Norris split 2024

The Norris Trophy is given annually to the top defenseman in the NHL as voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association

This season, Quinn Hughes of the Vancouver Canucks, Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators and Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche are the finalists.

The award will be given to one of these defensemen during the NHL Awards on June 27 at the Fontainebleau in Las Vegas (7 p.m. ET; ESPN, SN).

While we wait to find out the winner, writers Adam Kimelman, Mike Zeisberger and Mike G. Morreale debate the merits of each finalist in this Awards edition of State Your Case.

Quinn Hughes

With all due respect to Cale Makar and Roman Josi, the Vancouver Canucks defenseman was the best in the NHL this season for a team not many predicted would finish second in the Western Conference. In his first season as captain of the Canucks, Hughes played a huge role by leading all players at his position with 92 points, 75 assists and 17 primary power-play assists while averaging a team-high 24:41 in 82 games to help Vancouver (50-23-9) to its first 50-win season since 2011-12. He's the sixth defenseman in NHL history to have at least 92 points in a season by the age of 24 or younger, and had nine games with at least three assists, something only two others at the position have done in a single season: Bobby Orr (four times) and Ray Bourque (1993-94). Here's another stat that boggles the mind: Hughes is already second on the Canucks' all-time scoring list among defensemen with 333 points in 365 games. Alexander Edler is first with 409 points in 925 games. Hughes also set the Canucks record for plus-minus in a single season (plus-38). Fact is, Hughes is one of the best skaters in the League, and that includes all positions, and his hockey IQ gets better and better with age. Additionally, Vancouver controlled 56.4 percent of all shots generated 5-on-5 when Hughes was on the ice this season, which ranked higher than Makar (52.8) and Josi (53.4). -- Mike G. Morreale, senior draft writer

VAN@VGK: Hughes nets his 15th goal of season in 3rd period

Roman Josi

When you look at Josi's season, it was really strong; he led NHL defensemen with 23 goals and was third with 85 points, and his even-strength goal differential was a plus-14 while averaging 20:17 of even-strength ice time, 10th among defenseman to play at least 10 games. But what earns him the Norris Trophy to me is how he provided the lift the Predators needed throughout the season. Nashville went 5-10-0 in its first 15 games, but in its final 67 games he had 74 points (20 goals, 54 assists) with a plus-20 even-strength goal differential as the Predators went 42-20-5. And when they really needed him for their final Stanley Cup Playoff push, Josi had 36 points (12 goals, 24 assists) and a plus-16 even-strength goal differential in his final 28 games as Nashville went 20-5-3 to reach the postseason after missing in 2022-23. Josi did everything possible to carry the Predators to the playoffs, from setting up big goals to preventing them at the other end. He touched all aspects of Nashville's game, and without him there's little chance the Predators would have played in the postseason. To me, Josi has earned this season's Norris Trophy because there wasn't a more impactful defenseman in the NHL. -- Adam Kimelman, deputy managing editor

The Tape Room dissects the game of Roman Josi

Cale Makar

When it comes to stats, legitimate arguments can be made for each of the three finalists. In the case of the Colorado defenseman, he was first among players at his position in points per game (1.17) and power-play points (39), second in goals (21), assists (69), points (90), tied for third in power-play goals (seven) and third in shots (231), all while playing five fewer games than each of the other two finalists. Now, let's take our noses out of the analytics and statistics books and simply watch the games. That should say it all. No defenseman skates as effortlessly as Makar. No defenseman controls the pace of the game like Makar. No defenseman evokes as much fear in his opponents because of his speed like Makar. Oh, one other thing. The 25-year-old had his 300th point in his 280th game to become the second-fastest defenseman in League history to reach the milestone, one game shy of Bobby Orr (279 games). When you are being mentioned in the same sentence as Bobby Orr, well, that's as good a place as any to rest my case. -- Mike Zeisberger, staff writer

See how Makar compares to Orr in unique highlight compilation

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