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Norris Trophy

Norris Trophy winner debated by

Burns of Sharks, Hedman of Lightning, Giordano of Flames finalists for top defenseman honors

by @NHLdotcom

The James Norris Memorial Trophy is a three-defenseman race among Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks, Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames and Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Who will be honored as best all-around defenseman during the regular season when it is handed out during the 2019 NHL Awards presented by Bridgestone in Las Vegas on Wednesday? That remains to be seen, but we had five members of the staff debate the merits of the finalists to see how the voting by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association could shake out.


Amalie Benjamin, staff writer

Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames

Though I'm going to choose slightly different language than Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty in his assessment of the Norris Trophy race in March when he dismissed the candidacy of rival Brent Burns, I can't say I entirely disagree with him. I think Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames should be handed the trophy, as much for his defense as his offensive production, which placed him second among defensemen in scoring in the NHL this season with 74 points (17 goals, 57 assists). But it was on defense that he shined, helping the Flames to second place in the NHL with a plus-66 goal differential, while playing 24:14 per game. Giordano has long been one of the best defensemen in the NHL, but he hasn't always gotten the commensurate credit. This season, I think he does. 

Video: ANA@CGY: Giordano buries slap shot past Miller


Brian Compton, deputy managing editor

Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks

When the San Jose Sharks added Erik Karlsson to their defense prior to the start of last season, there was a belief that the production from Brent Burns could dip. Instead, he led the NHL among defensemen with 83 points (16 goals, 67 assists), game-winning goals (six) and shots on goal (300). He still carried as much responsibility on the back end, as he always has, averaging 25:06 of ice time per game; Karlsson averaged 24:29. Giordano's Flames certainly fared better in the Pacific Division, and we all know what Victor Hedman and the Tampa Bay Lightning accomplished in the regular season, but the Norris has been and will always remain an individual award. The numbers say Burns will take home the trophy for the second time in the past three seasons.  

Video: SJS@COL, Gm6: Burns nets Karlsson's feed to tie score


Jon Lane, staff writer

Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames

During a time when the NHL is trending younger and faster, Giordano had his finest season at age 35 with NHL career highs of 74 points and a plus-39 rating that led all skaters. He was the bedrock of a Flames defense that showed dramatic improvement, going to plus-66 goal differential, mentioned by Amalie, from a minus-27 for the 2017-18 season. The captain's intangibles also inspired 22-year-old defensemen Noah Hanifin (33 points; five goals, 28 assists, plus-18) and Rasmus Andersson (19 points; two goals, 17 assists, plus-17) to new heights in the NHL. Three players have won the Norris Trophy at age 35 or older in 65 years: Nicklas Lidstrom (four times), Doug Harvey (three) and Al MacInnis (once), with Lidstrom the last one, at 40, in 2010-11. Giordano will be the fourth after he willed the Flames to 50 wins and 107 points, 23 more than the previous season.


Tracey Myers, staff writer

Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames

I'm echoing the sentiments of Amalie and Jon on this one and going with Giordano. When the Flames were in Chicago in December, I asked Giordano why it appeared that he never got tired. The 35-year-old laughed, saying he's breathing pretty heavy after every shift. Post-shift recoveries aside, Giordano was as consistent in minutes played as he was in points. Giordano's average of 24:14 of ice time per game was highest on the Flames (29-year-old defenseman T.J. Brodie was next at 21:28) and 16th in the League. Giordano has earned this season's Norris.

Video: OTT@CGY: Giordano stays with it to bury SHG


Tom Gulitti, staff writer

Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames

I'll make it four of five on this panel and select Mark Giordano, an undrafted player who had his best season at age 35. Plus-minus can sometimes be misleading because it can be impacted by the type of players a player plays with and against. In Giordano's case, he regularly played in a shutdown role against opponents' top lines and led the NHL with a plus-39 rating and ranked third among defensemen in 5-on-5 shot attempt differential at plus-371 while leading the Flames in ice time. Throw in Giordano's career-high 74 points (17 goals, 57 assists), which was second in the League among defensemen behind Burns (83), and it's clear he had the kind of complete, two-way season worthy of winning the Norris Trophy.

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