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And the Norris goes to….

The role of the Defensemen is not just to prevent the puck from getting to the goaltender. The job is much more than that. The position requires thinking like a forward but also thinking like a goaltender as well. The James Norris Memorial Trophy is awarded by the Professional Hockey Writer’s Association to the “defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position” Let’s take a look at some possible candidates, and our personal picks, for this years award.

(In no particular order)

Mike Green (Washington Capitals)- 24 year old Green has excelled at his position almost every season he’s been in the pro’s. This year alone he has produced 55 assists in the 73 games. Pair that with his 19 goals and you’ve got a defenseman with the numbers of a forward. He’s got the 5th best plus- in the league and leads all defensemen in power play goals with 10. Out of all of our candidates, Green is the only one not to have been chosen for the Olympics. It is rumored that he was passed up because Canada felt they couldn’t trust his play in his own zone. Nominated for the Norris last season, he is our pick to win it at the NHL Awards in June.

Duncan Keith (Chicago Blackhawks)- Keith is part of what could arguably be on the the best defensive pairs in the league along side teammate Brent Seabrook. His 66 points are only second best to one other defensmen, in Green. 26 year old Keith was selected to play for Team Canada at this years Olympics and lead the team in ice time. Keith record an assist in 7 straight games back in December and has had multi-point games on several different occasions throughout this season. As a Blackhawk, he is not only the top defenseman but his numbers are better than every player except for Patrick Kane.

Brian Rafalski (Detroit Red Wings)- In the past 10 years, only 4 different players have won the Norris, reason being Red Wings Nicklas Lidstrom has won it 6 times in those 10 years. It may come as a surprise, but this year we are not including Lindstrom in our picks for the trophy. We have decided to hand over the reins to another Red Wings defensmen, Rafalski. Rafalski may not be one of the league’s top 5 defensemen, but we’re kidding ourselves if Olympic play isn’t going to cross the minds of the PHWA. Rafalski was named Most Outstanding Defensmen at the 2010 Winter Games and was first among defensemen with 4 goals and 4 assists. This season he has 41 points, 33 of them being assists.

Drew Doughty (Los Angeles Kings)- Doughty is the youngest player to have won a gold medal for Team Canada this year. He is ranked 3rd among all defensemen in the NHL with 15 goals and 41 assists and a huge reason why the Kings have secured their playoff spot. Doughty, who is only in his 2nd NHL season, averages 25 minutes in ice team per game, ranking him at the top of the King’s roster.He also leads all defensemen in game winning goals. Critics feel that Doughty may have a couple more years ahead of him before he can be considered for the Norris, but Bobby Orr won it at the age of 19, why can’t Doughty at 20?

Chris Pronger (Philadelphia Flyers)- Pronger has won the Norris Trophy twice in his NHL career. This year he has 10 g0als and 44 assists ranking him among the league’s top defensmen. Pronger averages a little over 31 shifts per game with an ice time average just under 26 minutes. Like Doughty and Rafalski, Pronger also was selected to play for his country at the Winter Olympics. He leads the Flyers in assists, blocked shots, time on ice and has had 11 multi-point games this season.

You be the the judge. Who should win this year’s

Norris Trophy?

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