by PuckStopsHere on 03/30/12 at 02:18 PM ET
In November I first picked Shea Weber as the Norris Trophy leader. When Weber lost a bit of time with a concussion my new pick was Zdeno Chara. By early February I had Weber back in the lead. Now that we are into the stretch drive of the season, I think Chara is back in the lead.
Zdeno Chara has the top +/- rating among all defencemen in the NHL at +29. His 49 points puts him ahead of all defencemen except Brian Campbell (who is two points ahead) and Erik Karlsson (who has a remarkable 27 point lead on Chara). Chara is dominant in his own zone and offensively. I think he is the defenceman who is worth the most win shares to his team. While it is close he has surpassed Shea Weber both offensively and defensively.
The most interesting candidate for the Norris Trophy is Erik Karlsson of Ottawa. He is clearly the top offensive defenceman this season and although he is improving defensively he is no comparison to Chara in his own zone. I think that Chara and Weber both bring enough defensively to make up for Karlsson’s offence and would rank them ahead of him.
Alex Pietrangelo is a strong fourth Norris candidate, though I think he will be outside the Norris Trophy nominees.
The Norris Trophy race is a tight one with four very strong candidates. I could imagine all four getting a few first place votes from the voters. I think Zdeno Chara should win the award, but I am not confident that it is clear enough that the voters will definitely make the correct pick.
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