To mark the three-quarters point in the season, NHL.com is running its fourth installment of the Trophy Tracker series this week. Today, we look at the race for the Norris Trophy, the annual award given to the top defenseman in the NHL as selected in a Professional Hockey Writers Association poll.
Mark Giordano could join some exclusive company.
The Calgary Flames defenseman is having his best season and could become the fourth player age 35 or older to win the Norris Trophy. Nicklas Lidstrom did it four times, Doug Harvey three times and Al MacInnis once.
Giordano is third among defensemen in scoring with 58 points, his NHL career high, and tied for the NHL lead with a plus-30 rating. His seven three-point games are also the most among defensemen, and he's been an even or plus-rated player in 42 of 60 games this season.
That's why a panel of 21 NHL.com writers voted Giordano the Norris Trophy favorite at the three-quarters point of the season. He was the only player on each of the 21 ballots and finished comfortably ahead of Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks and Morgan Rielly of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"He's right there," Flames coach Bill Peters recently said about Giordano being among the elite players in the NHL. "He probably flew under the radar here a little bit over the years, but he's had lots of good years ... he's having a fantastic year again right now."
Video: ARI@CGY: Giordano pots goal on the backhand
Under the leadership of Giordano, who's been Flames captain since the 2013-14 season, Calgary sits atop the Pacific Division and Western Conference. The Flames have never had a Norris winner, and although Giordano has a good chance to become the first, he always puts the team first.
"It always feels good to contribute and get points offensively but again, we have such a good team, we score so many goals that a lot of guys' numbers are going to look really good this year," Giordano said. "But more importantly is where we are in the standings right now."
Giordano has helped the Flames tighten up defensively. They lead the West with a plus-45 goal differential.
"He is one of the best players in the League, so it's nothing new and we've played together a little bit before and he's an unbelievable player and it's really simple to play with him," said Rasmus Andersson, Giordano's defense partner.
Peters, who is in his first season coaching Calgary, said his job is made easier by having Giordano on the roster.
"He's a real good pro about going about the same thing each and every day," Peters said. "He looks after himself away from the rink and he's a worker, he wants to be at the rink, he wants to put the work in and he knows he has to in order to be elite and that's what he's done for a long time now."
The Flames already have more wins (39) and points (85) than they did all of last season. Giordano is a big reason why. Asked if Giordano is one of the best players he has ever coached, Peters didn't hesitate.
"There's no question about it," he said.
Voting totals (points awarded on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis): Mark Giordano, Flames, 91 points (11 first-place votes); Brent Burns, Sharks, 68 points (four first-place votes); Morgan Rielly, Maple Leafs, 54 points (three first-place votes); Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins, 44 points (one first-place vote); Roman Josi, Nashville Predators, 22 points (one first place vote); John Carlson, Washington Capitals, 14 points; Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets, 12 points (one first-place vote); Mattias Ekholm, Nashville Predators, 4 points; Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning, 3 points; Ryan McDonagh, Lightning 2 points; Thomas Chabot, Ottawa Senators, 1 point