Ever since the 2005 NHL lockout, the league has been a more finesse and offensive driven league. So it’s no surprise that the award for “top defenseman” is often given to offensive defensemen. The Norris trophy is a subjective award. It is determined by a vote as opposed to stats.
Last seasons winner doesn’t defend
Erik Karlsson is one of the best defensemen in today’s NHL. As long as you’re not talking about his ability to defend. Karlsson, despite his liabilities on defending, was your 2023 Norris trophy winner.
To be fair to Karlsson, much of his inability to back check is due to his injury history. But it still shows today’s NHL voters thumb their nose at the defensive side of the game. Guys like Heiskanen, Jacob Trouba, Ryan McDonagh, and Jaccob Slavin are guys known for their great defending. They’re also not winning the Norris.
Voters like “sexy” play style
If you want to win the Norris trophy, you have to score points. While the award is for the “best defenseman,” points, and offense are a must in the voting process. Regardless of how one feels about the process, it’s the world that we live in. Quarterbacking power plays, shots from the blue line, and points get you the votes. As opposed to open ice hits, back checking, and shot blocking.
Since the 2005 lockout, the NHL has been a more offensive, skill based game. The same goes for the guys who play defense. It’s great for attracting a bigger audience, but put some respect on the defense. As the old saying goes; offense wins games. Defense wins championships. Just ask today’s Edmonton Oilers.
Miro talks the walk
Not only is Heiskanen deserving of being in the Norris conversation, he wants to win it. “That’s one thing I really want to win,” the Dallas Stars defenseman said at the NHL European Player Media Tour last week. “I want to be the best defenseman in the NHL.”
Surely Heiskanen would be happy seeing his name on the Norris, and the 2024 Stars engraved on the Stanley Cup next year would be nice too. A Conn Smythe is another award that’d suit the defenseman nicely.
Featured photo: nhl.com