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Early Top Defencemen

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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Comments

Faux Rumors's avatar

Wow, just when I thought trophy trackers were getting out of hand I read this entry!  LOL Just a tad early?  No serious trophy projections can be made prior to the 40 game plateau. Even then its premature

Posted by Faux Rumors from Globally- Here, there, Everywhere on 10/25/11 at 03:18 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

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.

How is it ‘very realistic’ when you think one should be against him having a Hall of Fame career?

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 10/25/11 at 03:23 PM ET

Hank1974's avatar

The Geico-Man is #1? What’s this world coming to???

Posted by Hank1974 on 10/25/11 at 03:47 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

My weather report calls for a 60% chance of showers today.  It is sunny right now (at almost noon epacific time).  I think it is quite realistic to believe that it will remain sunny this afternoon, though it is probably less than 50% likely.

Or to give a hockey example.  No team is 50% likely to win the Stanley Cup this year - at least not at this point.  That said it is realistic to imagine that Washington or Vancouver could win it, but it is a smarter bet to bet against it.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 10/25/11 at 03:50 PM ET

UMFan's avatar

Come on now. How does anyone become a leader in any season ending award after 8 games? I mean 20-25 games, maybe I can understand. But 8?

Posted by UMFan from Denver, Colorado on 10/25/11 at 04:14 PM ET

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Less than 10% of the way through the season is too early to pick Norris (or any other award) contenders.  Just a few days ago you wrote an article about the Oilers’ start being unsustainable, yet you claim it isn’t too early to start talking about Norris contenders?

Posted by Garth on 10/25/11 at 04:18 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

One thing that is interesting to those of us who wish to discuss hockey is when in the season do the top contenders for awards emerge for the awards, what happens before they emerge, what happens to thosev early contenders by seasons end etc.

This is one way to answer that question.

Some of the commenters here must not be interested in hockey as they would rather say its too early in the season than discuss hockey.  That is a shame.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 10/25/11 at 04:18 PM ET

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Nobody is saying it is too early in the season to discuss hockey.  What people are saying is that 8-10 games into the season is too early to discuss END OF SEASON AWARDS that are given to players who were the best at their positions over the course of the ENTIRE SEASON, not 8-10 games at the beginning of the season.

If you would like to give your opinion on who is in the running for Player Of The Month for October, then that might be acceptable, since the month is neearly over.  Not just beginning, like the season is.

Posted by Garth on 10/25/11 at 04:26 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

At this point there is no difference between the MVP and the player of the month for October.  If I want to track award leaders as a function of time and list the player as MVP instead of player of the month, it makes no difference at all except that it brings out Garth to complain about the date on the calendar.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 10/25/11 at 04:30 PM ET

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Yeah, pretend I’m the only person who has brought it up.

And yes, it does make a huge difference between the MVP and the Player of the month.

Phil Kessel could win the PoM this month because of his start, but he could end up with 15 goals at the end of the season.  If that happens, he will not be the MVP, but he will still have earned the PoM for October.

Posted by Garth on 10/25/11 at 04:35 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Phil Kessel is the leader for the MVP right now.  I wrote about that a few days ago.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 10/25/11 at 04:39 PM ET

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Phil Kessel is the leader for the MVP right now.

No he isn’t, because it is far too early in the season to discuss the league MVP for the 2011-2012 season.  He likely is in serious consideration for the NHL’s Player of the Month for October 2011 though.  He’s had a great start and may finally be back in the form he was during his final year in Boston.  Will he end up winning the Rocket Richard Trophy or the Art Ross Trophy?

Who knows?  It is FAR TOO EARLY TO DISCUSS TROPHIES.

Posted by Garth on 10/25/11 at 04:49 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Some of the commenters here must not be interested in hockey as they would rather say its too early in the season than discuss hockey.  That is a shame.

Hooray logical progressions!

TPSH claims that commenters who do not wish to discuss end of season awards in October are not interested in hockey.

THEREFORE, it can be logically inferred that TPSH doesn’t consider hockey to be anything more than the sum of the postseason NHL awards given out.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 10/25/11 at 05:15 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

It can be logically inferred that JJ is just here to be a smart ass.  He obviously doesnt want a serious conversation about anything.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 10/25/11 at 05:18 PM ET

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Hooray logical progressions!

Funny—I just taught how *not* to do this to my Comp. class last week. 

If only I didn’t live in the mountains of N.C., where Charter doesn’t even offer NHL Net. or Center Ice, maybe I could use this as an example in class tonight.

Posted by nosferatu from Albany, NY on 10/25/11 at 05:35 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I would like to see Dion Phaneuf on the Detroit Red Wings.

edit necessary to make it a hockey comment.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 10/25/11 at 06:25 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I would not want Dion Phaneuf on the Red Wings, nor do I want my comments deleted or edited when I try to answer repeatedly the accusation that I don’t want to have a serious conversation about anything.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 10/25/11 at 06:32 PM ET

calquake's avatar

I would not want Dion Phaneuf on the Red Wings, nor do I want my comments deleted or edited when I try to answer repeatedly the accusation that I don’t want to have a serious conversation about anything.

Good luck with that J.J.  When you own the Monopoly Board (Blog) you can manipulate it any way you want it to come out.  Just like statistics.  All hail the gods of statistics.

Dion Phaneuf is a decent enough hockey player.  And he leads in early statistics.  It makes him flavor of the moment, nothing more.

Posted by calquake on 10/25/11 at 06:43 PM ET

Hank1974's avatar

This reminds me of the time in 92-93(?) when Wendel Clark had 8 points in the first 3 games, the Maple Leafs were undefeated and had the best Powerplay in the NHL.
In game 4 on HNIC, Bob Cole would constantly say things like “Here comes the NHL’s #1 powerplay”.
“Wendel Clark, the NHL’s leading scorer, heads up the wing…”
“The Toronto Maple Leafs, the #1 team in the NHL…”

It was after 3 measly games.
Of course, Wendel finished with 60+ points and the Leafs finished 3rd in the Norris.
But don’t let that get in your way when you want to homer-up your favoritist hockey team eva!!!

Posted by Hank1974 on 10/26/11 at 09:14 AM ET

Bossy_Rules's avatar

Are you people mental?  Why be in a huff because of a post about the early leaders for awards.  Did ANYONE say Phaneuf is leading now therefore he’ll be the winner?  No.  We’re talking about who’s been the best as of yet in this very early part of the season.  Its just something interesting to talk about.  I can’t understand the complaints.  It is not too early to talk about who is leading very early in the season.  Its understood by all with any sense that we are only talking about who has been the best up to this point in this small sample and that is interesting in and of itself and doesn’t imply that the early leader will be the winner.  That doesn’t even need to be said.

Posted by Bossy_Rules on 10/27/11 at 06:19 PM ET

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It seems like a lot of people don’t understand the point. PSH wants to see when the favorite for the award emerges? Is it only in the final week? At the all-star break? By mid-season? By November (you only have a 6% chance, based on post-lockout history, of making the playoffs if you’re out of the picture on Nov 1)? After 1 week?

Last year, obviously, Thomas had the Vezina locked up right from the start. Perry won the Hart in the final six weeks. No true Norris leader ever emerged after Byfuglien cooled off his point-per-game half-season. Bylsma won the Adams once it became clear the Pens would be hanging around, maybe around February. And so on.

These are not predictions. They are notes on what has happened so far this season. Essentially, “Dion Phaneuf has been the best defenseman so far this season, let’s see if he holds it up.”

Posted by Ralph on 10/29/11 at 03:01 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

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Email: y2kfhl@hotmail.com