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Previewing The 2016 NHL Awards Show

James Norris Memorial Trophy

Awarded to the best defenseman in the league. This year’s candidates are:

Erik Karlsson

Karlsson is arguably the  best offensive-defensemen in the league.

Karlsson is aiming for his third Norris in the last five years, and he is also trying to join elite company by winning three or more. He would be in good company with names like Potvin, Coffey, Chelios, Lidstrom, Bourque, Harvey, and Orr.

Not too shabby.

Let’s start with Karlsson’s offensive upside. Karlsson was coming off a career high in goals (21 in 2014-15), but dropped in that category by five goals (16 in 2015-16).

It was his 66 assist and 82 points (also a career highs) that really caught people’s eye. Karlsson is a constant threat on the rush and also on the power-play.

But that is only half of what Karlsson is about.

He is a true shutdown defender, he played nearly 29 minutes a game (although his plus-minus dropped by five). Karlsson blocked a career high 175 shots, which good for 11th in the league.

If that’s not enough, he also increased his takeaways (59 in 2014-15, 61 in 2015-16), while decreasing his giveaways (99 in 2014-15, 96 in 2015-16) with more ice-time.

P.K. Subban

What was a lost season for Montréal was not a lost season for P.K. Subban until he suffered a scary neck injury on March 10th. The injury cut his season down to only 68 games.

With or without the injury, Subban has become one of the most animated characters in the NHL, as he usually plays with a high level of emotion during games.

He also has a lethal shot from the point.

Subban won this award in 2013 and is trying to become the first Montréal Canadien to win the award twice with the franchise since Larry Robinson (1977/1980).

Subbans stats dropped in just about every category this season.

Table courtesy of Hockeyreference.com
Table courtesy of Hockeyreference.com

So why is Subban on this list?

The answer is that he passes the eye test. Stats can’t show you everything, such as how teams prepare to play against the Canadiens power-play or how he affects the mindset of top players in the NHL.

Not to mention, the guy has some serious style.

Drew Doughty

If Doughty doesn’t win the Norris this year,  the NHL should play Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust” at the Awards show. 

For seven out of his eight seasons in the league, Doughty has been one of the strongest defenseman in the game. He plays a truckload of minutes, shuts down his opponets top players, and his deadly accurate shot is a major threat (14 goals).

Doughty posted a career high plus-minus (24) while playing and average 28 minutes a game in the regular season.

Doughty entered the league with high expectations, and at the age of 19 he made his NHL debut. Ever since then he has been a big piece of the Los Angeles Kings’ two Stanley Cup championships, not to mention Canada’s gold medal in the 2014 Olympics.

The Verdict: Erik Karlsson

As much as Doughty deserves it, Karlsson was just too dominant this season.

People ask me what I do in the summer when there's no hockey, I tell you what I do, I still talk about hockey.