by PuckStopsHere on 01/17/09 at 02:12 AM ET
The Norris Trophy is one of the more interesting trophy races this season. There is no clear front-runner at this point. The biggest name defencemen in Nicklas Lidstrom and Zdeno Chara have had good seasons, but they haven’t jumped out as clear leaders. Both have teammates in Brian Rafalski and Dennis Wideman who are statistically about as strong Norris candidates. Dan Boyle leads the NHL in scoring among defencemen, but he is not as strong in his own zone as some of the players previously listed. Marc-Edouard Vlasic is another San Jose Shark having a very good year, but he is not as offensively strong as some of the other candidates. Duncan Keith is doing very well in Chicago and also deserves consideration. Mike Green has by far the best points per game among defencemen and should he have been healthy the whole season playing at that level he would be the front-runner. Scott Niedermayer, Dion Phaneuf and Chris Pronger are other serious Norris candidates who could take over the lead given a strong second half. With all of those candidates, I have been supporting Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators.
Weber has been among the defensive scoring leaders. He is second on his Nashville team in scoring and leads his team in +/-. While his Nashville team has slipped in the playoff race (they currently sit 13th in the west, but only four points back of eighth), it is not his fault as that is a team effort. Weber is definitely another good Norris Trophy candidate.
However, I am currently supporting yet another candidate. If the season ended right now, I would give the Norris Trophy to Andrei Markov of the Montreal Canadiens. Markov is second in defensive scoring with 34 points. This ties him for the Habs team lead in points (with Robert Lang). His +12 +/- rating is second on the team. He leads the Habs in ice time, playing 24:27 a game (over two and a half more minutes than second place Roman Hamrlik). He has been the MVP and most dominant player for the team that currently has the third best record in the East Conference (and with two less games played and only one less point than second place Washington - one could argue for second).
The Norris Trophy race currently has many candidates. It is a tight race with about a dozen people who might win it. It is hard to pick a leader at any given time, but I think Andrei Markov is your leader right now. He is having a phenomenal season.
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