The Norris trophy race can be discussed now correct? We are about 30 games into the year, the All-Star break is coming and this is a perfect time to talk about the current race. We have seen a good sample size of 30 some odd games and it is getting to that point in the year where we need to talk about it.
The Norris trophy has been flooded with Drew Doughty, Victor Hedman, Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns over the last several years. This year it is different, which is great to see, and the most surprising of the players leading the Norris race right now is Thomas Cabot.
Thomas Chabot, the 21-year-old defenseman in Ottawa is taking this race by storm. Chabot is not just the only defenseman in Ottawa who can play both sides really but the reason he needs to seriously be considered because look what team he is on! Ottawa is a struggling team, bottom of the league and it is not like he has much talent with him. Especially on the blue line Chabot has Ben Harpur (?) Maxime Lajoie and Cody Ceci so the fact this kid has 8 goals, 25 assists and 33 points in 31 games is unbelievable, plus he has just 9 power play points the fewest of all the top Norris candidates. Chabot is second among defenseman in assists, first in points, 20th in time on ice if he continues this production come June we may see our Norris winner.
Next up is John Carlson, a defenseman who got snubbed last year, not even being considered for the Norris continues his tear. Coming off a Stanley Cup season and the best year in his career. Carlson has not slowed down. On the year Carlson has 5 goals and 25 assists, 30 points in 28 games with 14 power play points averaging 25 minutes per game on the ice. Carlson has Ovechkin, Kuznestov and a solid team around him to help him collect apples. Sure feeding Ovechkin is not hard but he does a lot more than just feed Ovechkin. He is the anchor on the Capitals back end, a clear number one defenseman on the team, in conversation as a top-10 defenseman in the league and not only plays offensively sound but defensively he is just as good. I hope at some point when he collects another 65+ point year he gets some recognition for it. Carlson tallied 68 points last season he has 30 through 28 games therefore he is on pace to exceed his last year total by a wide margin.
Morgan Reilly, there is enormous pressure on Reilly the assistant captain, the need for a number one defenseman in Toronto, the fans pressure in Toronto is probably indescribable so for that fact alone. Reilly needs to be in the discussion. Reilly came out of the gate flying this year, he has slowed down a bit but that does not takeaway from the fact that he has 32 points in 30 games with 9 goals and 23 assists. Reilly second among all defenseman with 9 goals, 5th among all defenseman in assists, second in points and 5th with power play points (12). Reilly has been a pretty consistent defenseman in Toronto coming off a 52 point year, his best in his career, he is on pace to well exceed that. Reilly is not a house hold name at this point but if he continues down this road and does not win this year, he will eventually walk away from his NHL career with one Norris trophy.
Mark Giordano, another player who has put in his dues, his time in the NHL and has finally come in the discussion for the Norris. Giordano is more known for his defensively sound game, being a shutdown defenseman who makes a great first pass and step out the zone. As the Flames offense evolves and Giordano continues to step into a big leadership role and his game offensively has soared this year. Giordano has 20 points in 29 games, 3 goals and 26 assists on the year. He leads all defenseman in assists, 9th in power play points (10), 4th in plus/minus (+16) and a clear impact on the Flames success this year. Giordano may be known for his charity work and defensive play but he has stepped into a bigger role this year that has propelled him into the Norris talk.
Keith Yandle, a offensive-defenseman a clear Norris candidate and a HUGE part to the Panthers power play and offensive success. Yandle has 28 points in 28 games, 5 goals and 23 assists. He leads all defenseman in power play points with 19, tied for the lead in power play goals (4) and 5th among all defenseman in assists. Another defenseman who has put his time in and has been a consistent power play specialists as well as offensive force on the back end. Yandle has had some concerns about his defensive game but he plays a solid defensive game and even if he doesn’t his offense makes up for it. Yandle’s best year in his 13-year career came in 2010-2011 where he tallied 59 points (11G, 48A) he is also coming off a 56 point year in 2017-18 (8G, 48A) as of now Yandle is expected to exceed his best year if he continues on this pace he could end the year with 82 points, unlikely but Yandle can easily be a 60 point player this year.