To mark the quarter pole of the 2016-17 season, NHL.com is running its third installment of the Trophy Tracker series this week. Today, we look at the race for the Norris Trophy.
Brent Burns has done it all this season for the San Jose Sharks.
Through 62 games, he has 27 goals, tying an NHL career high he set last season, and 66 points, nine fewer than he had in 82 games in 2015-16. He ranks first among defensemen in goals and points, and is tied for fourth in the League in scoring. Burns has 19 power-play points (seven goals) and a plus-23 rating.
It should come as no surprise that Burns was the unanimous choice for the Norris Trophy as the best defenseman in the League, according to a panel of 13 NHL.com writers.
Burns has five game-winning-goals, including two in overtime. He leads the League in shots on goal (249) and tops the Sharks with 24:54 of ice time per game, playing in all situations. His 3:37 on the power play is first on San Jose, and he also gets 1:47 of shorthanded ice time per game, fifth on the Sharks.
"We needed a spark and he's been there all year," San Jose coach Peter DeBoer last month. "Big goal at the right time. He's a fearless player, he walks the line. Under pressure he has a fearlessness offensively to him that is hard to teach, which really separates great players from other guys."
Video: SJS@ARI: Burns scores second goal on a power play
Burns has 20 two-point games and has the Sharks (37-18-7), who are in first place in the Pacific Division, hungry for the Stanley Cup after they advanced to the Cup Final last season, losing in six games to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He had seven goals and 17 assists in 24 games in the 2016 postseason.
Burns could become the first defenseman since Bobby Orr in 1974-75 to win the NHL scoring title; he's six points behind Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers (72) for the League lead.
"I think you look at everything," Burns said. "We hear about it from you guys about stats all the time, so we're aware of it."
Teammate Logan Couture said Burns' execution is what makes him so good.
"His shot is unbelievable," Couture said. "The ability he has to get his shot through, there's no one in the League that does it better the way he can pull the puck in or push it outside of that first guy. ... He shoots with his head up at all times so he is looking for lanes and guys in front and no one does it better than him."
Sharks goalie Martin Jones is glad he doesn't have to face Burns.
"It's entertaining. It's interesting," Jones said of playing behind Burns. "He's great. He brings a lot to the table. Every time he shoots the puck, it has a chance to go in."
Voting totals (points awarded on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis): Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks, 65 ; Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators, 37; Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning 26; Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild, 21; Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings, 18; Shea Weber, Montreal Canadiens, 11; Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks, 13; Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets, 2; Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis Blues/Washington Capitals, 1.