The most obvious and expected thing happened on Monday morning: Cale Makar was named a finalist for the Norris Trophy.
Awarded to the NHL’s top defenseman, the Colorado Avalanche blueliner has simply been one of the best in his position all season long, producing points like nobody’s business and scoring timely goals to push his team into competition for the President’s Trophy.
Victor Hedman (@TBLightning), Roman Josi (@PredsNHL) and Cale Makar (@Avalanche) are the three finalists for the 2021-22 James Norris Memorial Trophy. #NHLAwards #NHLStats: https://t.co/2QeoUrEkek pic.twitter.com/x5lOD3gaA2— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) May 9, 2022
Makar finished his regular season with 28 goals and 86 points in 77 games. While he might not have put up the same point totals as some of his competition, almost hitting the 30-goal mark — something that has only happened once since 1993, when Mike Green of the Washington Capitals scored 31 — is something that should be considered above a large number of other statistical arguments. Even if he didn’t hit that milestone, Makar’s 28 is still tied for the 24th-most goals scored by a blueliner in NHL history. That has to count for something, right?
In competition for the award are two names that have become almost synonymous with Norris. Nashville Predators’ Roman Josi and Tampa Bay Lightning hulking defenseman Victor Hedman were named the other finalists and they both certainly have their own reasons to earn the award.
While Makar scored goals, Josi just racked up a boatload of points, scoring 23 goals and 96 points in 80 games. That point total is the 17th-highest scored in NHL history by a defenseman, and no one has hit even 90 points since 1992.
As the two offensively-driven defensemen were hitting foreign milestones and breaking in some numbers, Hedman was just his steady self, scoring 85 points in 82 games and being always present on one of the NHL’s best teams. Both Makar and Hedman have similar arguments — blueliners that have averaged over 25 minutes a game, scoring more than a point-per-game, and being on very, very good teams — so it all depends what style the voters prefer, I suppose.
It will be a tough one and yet another NHL award that will be hotly contested for and argued about by fans.
The exact date and time of the award announcements are still to be announced, but they will be announced some time during the Conference Final and the Stanley Cup Final.