Brick Walls: Ranking the Favorites for the 2023-24 Norris Trophy

Ranking the Favorites for the 2023-24 Norris Trophy image

📖 Published on: February 27th, 2024

✍️ Updated: February 28th, 2024

⏳ 10 mins read


Scoring is always praised in the NHL as it is one of the most common stats that matter in the game. However, one can say that defense is never underrated in the league as the Norris Trophy recognizes real players who put effort into defending their goals and come up with impressive stops down the stretch. Stay tuned for more NHL updates with GambleSpot and don’t miss a single beat in the sports world!


Who is the Defending Norris Trophy Winner?


Erik Karlsson image


Erik Karlsson won the Norris Trophy three times in his career – twice with the Ottawa Senators and once with the San Jose Sharks last season. That time, he scored 101 points off 25 goals and 76 assists while playing 82 games. His impressive defense has steered the Sharks into having one of the best teams in the league, which was enough to earn him the Norris Trophy.

This season, however, Karlsson has moved on to play for the Pittsburgh Penguins after he got traded in a three-team trade that also involved the Montreal Canadiens. His speed and the ability to lead a rush while also completing his transition defense is something that has inspired modern-day defensemen to change up their game today.


Who Are the Candidates for the Norris Trophy this Season?


This season has featured a lot of talented defensemen over the past few months, and it is a no-brainer that the continuous innovation of playstyles among the candidates has sparked up the race to the next level as well. With that being said, the season still has a lot of games left to play, and there are plenty of chances for the candidates to deliver their case of being the Norris Trophy 2023-24 winner.


Who are the candidates for the Norris Trophy this season?


Quinn Hughes - Vancouver Canucks


Leading the Vancouver Canucks on a rare charge this season, Quinn Hughes is the favorite to win the Norris Trophy for his impressive two-way game. The star has tallied 70 points in 60 games played so far, scoring 12 goals and dishing 58 assists. His two-way star game has upped the Canucks’ case for playoff contention so far, and there is no doubt that he is capable of bringing the best of his game on the defensive end.

That kind of spark has been instrumental in pushing the Canucks to the first spot in the Pacific Division alone. The campaign has been promising so far, and Hughes’ defensive efforts cannot be discounted from the way they played this season as they continue to battle hard and prove their case for the playoffs.


Quinn Hughes image


This has made Hughes the valuable star that they need to equip to make an immense dive into the postseason. There's no denying that his presence on the defensive end has sparked a huge momentum that has allowed the Canucks to stay on the prowl at the top of the Pacific Division - and they are even emerging as favorites in the playoffs.


Cale Makar - Colorado Avalanche


Cale Makar image


The Colorado Avalanche have done a great job to keep the fight in their way with Cale Makar steering the defensive end for the squad. While Nathan MacKinnon continues to grind his way to the MVP, it does seem that Makar’s defensive exploits will bring more success to the Avalanche and their push for the top spot as well. At the age of 25, Makar’s defensive prowess is never to be underestimated at this point.

In just 54 games, Makar has tallied 61 points coming off 13 goals and 48 assists – most of those dishes finding its way to MacKinnon for an easy score in the transition, and he is not going away in the race any time soon as he continues to shine on the big stage.


Makar has locked up the defensive end for the squad, and he is doing a great job of putting the Avalanche at the forefront on the defensive end – striking power plays and even converting quick transitions in a snap. That says a lot about how he is making a strong case for the Norris Trophy as well.


Evan Bouchard - Edmonton Oilers


Shadowed by the dominance of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, Evan Bouchard has been the defensive anchor for the Edmonton Oilers this season, and he has done a great job of being a leading contributor alongside the two stars. One can even argue that the Oilers have found its big three with Bouchard being the third piece that they need the most, and that the Playoffs are now theirs for the taking. The defenseman has played a massive role in pushing the Oilers into one of the best defensive teams in the league - along with having one of the efficient offensive units as well, where Bouchard has also contributed well at a high level this season with his effective scoring.


Evan Bouchard image


This season through 56 games for the Oilers, the defender has managed to tally 56 points off 41 assists and 15 goals. That says a lot about his versatility on both ends considering how he has two teammates that are high-level scorers and they are sharing the floor for most of the game. This just makes his case clear for the Norris Trophy now more than ever as well.


Victor Hedman - Tampa Bay Lightning


Victor Hedman image


While the Tampa Bay Lightning isn’t much of a team to fear in the Stanley Cup this time around, it does seem that the heroics of Victor Hedman are something promising to look at, especially on the defensive end. His tally of 59 points on 49 assists and 10 goals in just 58 games has extremely fueled the Lightning’s late push this season. What makes his impact better is that he is now a +7 in the game as of the time of writing, which proves that he is locked in for the game night in and night out. Hedman has already been a pick for the Norris Trophy odds for most of the season, and his chance to prove his case comes in the campaign's final stretch.


So far, Hedman has proved his worth as one of the league’s prime defenders over the years. He has done a great job to keep his attack at the ready while maintaining a deep focus on the defensive end. His two-way tandem with Nikita Kucherov has already entrenched the lightning over the past few months, and it says a lot as to how they are gaining ground in the campaign as well.


Trends to Consider in the Norris Trophy Race


Defensemen are mostly considered the prime candidates for the Norris Trophy. Awarded to the best defensive performers in the league, the trends for the said award vary from time to time as the NHL continues to evolve into one of the modern iterations of ice hockey that sets the standard for defensive players in the game.


Bobby Orr image


Bobby Orr, Doug Harvey, and Nicklas Lidstrom are the only three players to have won the Norris Trophy more than five times in their respective careers. What made them formidable to begin with is that a defenseman should not miss any time to injury as their value on the defensive end is too important that it impacts a game.


Essentially, candidates for the Norris Trophy have to be on playoff teams to be considered for the said award. The only time that a player from a non-playoff team ever won the Norris Trophy was Adam Fox in 2021, other than that, the formula has always been constant among candidates for the said award, even with the current nominations for NHL awards 2023.


What to Expect in the Norris Trophy Race?


Hughes has been the biggest favorite to win the Norris Trophy ever since the season began, and there is no doubt that he presents the strongest case among all candidates as the season winds down to its final months of action. However, it can also be noted that Makar will still be able to prove his case further if the Avalanche can keep its climb with a high defensive rating as well.


Furthermore, candidates such as Bouchard and Hedman are not that far behind for consideration, which means that they are still in play for the said award as well. All of these will boil down to the end of the season, which will be definitely a race to remember among the best defensemen in the league.


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