by PuckStopsHere on 10/25/11 at 03:25 PM ET
I am looking at the early season leaders for the various NHL awards. Today, i have my first leader for the Norris Trophy. It is Dion Phaneuf of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He is tied for the scoring lead among defencemen with nine points. His +7 +/- rating is the best in the league among defencemen and tied for the league lead overall.
Phaneuf is a surprise Norris leader after his last couple of poor seasons, but before that he looked like he might be a regular contender for this award. In 2008, Phaneuf was runner up to this award and made the first team all star. He looked like it was only a matter of time before he would win a Norris, but he had some growing pains upon joining the Toronto Maple Leafs. So far this season, he seems to be back on his game.
Toronto clearly won in the deal where they acquired Phaneuf. The only player who remains with Calgary that was obtained in this deal is Matt Stajan and he does not come close to making the impact of Phaneuf.
It is unclear what Dion Phaneuf’s career trajectory will look like. Two or three years ago he looked like he was on a Hall of Fame track, but he fell off of that path. If his resurgence is a legitimate one and it actually leads to a Norris Trophy, he may be back on the path. It is very realistic to imagine a scenario where Phaneuf has a Hall of Fame career, though it is a better bet to bet against it.
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