by PuckStopsHere on 10/31/09 at 01:12 PM ET
Early in the season it is not uncommon that a surprise player gets off to a good start and becomes the early leader for a major NHL award. Most of the time as the season progresses, the player slips back into the pack and the winner is a more usual suspect. Sometimes, especially when it is a young player with significant upside, they may stay in the race or even win the award.
At this early point in the season, Alex Goligoski of the Pittsburgh Penguins has been the best defenceman in the NHL. Goligoski has 12 points, which places him third among defencemen in the NHL. He has a +13 +/- rating which is good for first place in the league. On a Pittsburgh team that suffered a blow to their defence when Sergei Gonchar suffered a broken wrist, Goligoski has done a wonderful job. The Penguins struggled without Gonchar last year, but with Goligoski in his place have not missed a beat this year.
Alex Goligoski was a 23 year old rookie last season. He split his time between the Penguins in the NHL and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the AHL. He showed offensive ability but at times showed defensive weakness. Thus far he has not shown defensive weakness this year and has shown much better offensive ability than before. He has been the top defenceman on the top team in the NHL.
It would be a surprise to see Alex Goligoski win the Norris Trophy in his first full season in the NHL. It is a surprise that he is doing as well as he has been so far this season. Most likely, he will regress somewhat in his play this season, but as a potential laden young player it is hard to know his ceiling.
Alex Goligoski has been one of the surprises in the NHL this year. He has been the best defenceman in the NHL so far this year. That is an extremely impressive showing
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