Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, April 17, 2024

In the Crease: Norris Trophy predictions

Edition Three: NHL Awards predictions.

FIXED graphic for Zach Gerson's column "In The Crease"

Graphic by Richie Han Kyaw

This week’s focus is on the Norris Trophy, which is awarded to the best defenseman of the NHL season.

Norris Trophy Winner: Quinn Hughes, Vancouver Canucks

Quinn Hughes, in his first year as captain of the Canucks, has been absolutely brilliant in all facets of the game, both offensively and defensively. Starting on the offensive side of things, Hughes leads all defensemen with 65 points, divided into twelve goals and 53 assists. These are exceptional numbers for any skater to have this early in the season, but they are especially impressive for a young defenseman. Hughes makes the players around him better and is involved in much of his team’s offensive playmaking. Hughes also has a phenomenal plus/minus of +34. It is hard to know where the Canucks would be offensively without Hughes’ performance. Defensively, Hughes is also a very good player, as he uses his size and long reach to his advantage. All in all, Hughes has been the best defenseman in the NHL season, which is why he will be awarded the 2024 Norris Trophy for best defenseman.

Norris Trophy Runner-Up: Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche

Cale Makar, the 2022 Norris Trophy winner, is right back in the mix for the award this season. As we have become accustomed to, Makar is having yet another elite season on both ends of the ice. Trailing Hughes by just 5 points, Makar has put up 60 points up to date, composed of 13 goals and 47 assists. In addition to his consistent offensive productivity, Makar is an integral piece of Colorado’s successful power play. Makar is the team’s “power-play quarterback,” meaning that on the power play, he is at the point, distributing the puck and making plays. Having an elite power-play quarterback is a huge advantage for a team, and Makar is the epitome of this. On top of all this, Makar’s defensive play has grown greatly over the years. There have been countless plays where he has stolen the puck from elite playmakers such as Connor McDavid back in his own zone. Makar is an extremely well-rounded player, making him one of the league’s best defensemen and this season’s Norris runner-up, trailing slightly behind Quinn Hughes.

Norris Trophy Third Place: Noah Dobson, New York Islanders

Noah Dobson has arguably been the most improved player in the NHL this season, making a complete 180 from last season. After an underwhelming 2022–23 season, Dobson has turned it around both offensively and defensively. He has been absolutely dominant, as of now putting up 54 points (7 goals, 47 assists). It seems like for a majority of the Islanders’ goals, Dobson is somehow involved. If he is not the one who assisted on the play, he is the one who made the breakout pass which led to the goal. Dobson, just like Makar, is the Islanders’ number one power-play quarterback, an area in which he has made great strides throughout this season. Dobson’s game has also seen impressive growth on the defensive side. Last year, his defensive performance was underwhelming; however, this year it has been very good. Dobson has definitely been a top-three defenseman in hockey this season.