The National Hockey League announced the three finalists for the James Norris Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the defenseman who “demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.” Doughty was a finalist in 2010 and 2015 and in 2016 became the first King to be voted the Norris Trophy winner since Rob Blake, who in 1998 became the first L.A. defenseman to be presented with the award.
This follows the news that Anze Kopitar was revealed on Wednesday to be one of the three finalists for the Selke Trophy. At the end of the season, Jonathan Quick and the Kings claimed the Jennings Trophy, having allowed the fewest goals in the NHL. The Norris winner, like the Selke, is determined by a vote amongst members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association through 10-7-5-3-1-tiered voting from the top player on the ballot to the fifth player on the ballot and will be presented at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas on Wednesday, June 20.
Doughty experienced a career year statistically in 2017-18, setting career highs with 50 assists and 60 points. Among his strongest claims would be that he led the NHL with an average time on ice per game of 26:50, marking the 10th consecutive year he led the team in that category, and played more minutes than any other player in the league. He appeared in all 82 games for the fourth consecutive season and is now two games away from tying Anze Kopitar’s franchise record of 330 consecutive games played.
As Jennings Trophy winners, the Kings led the league with a 2.46 goals against average and an 85.0% penalty killing rate that also led the league. He averaged 2:45 of shorthanded time on ice per game and 3:09 of power play time, though there’s not a great discrepancy between his special teams usage and Hedman’s or Subban’s.
After the final morning skate of the regular season, John Stevens said that “[Doughty’s] defensive game is as good as it’s ever been.”
He continued: “…I think he’s had as good a year he’s had since he’s been a pro. He’s been asked to play with young guys all along, and whoever he plays with he makes them better, but it’s a great example of a guy that’s really put up his best offensive numbers and really continued to be a real sound defensive guy, and it’s been really important to him. That’s why your team wins, because of guys that think the game like he does. Quite honestly before, he may have sacrificed some offensive numbers for the good of the team because he won’t take some risks that he knows he doesn’t want to take because of what it might leave. It’s not always what you make, it’s what you leave, and he knows that. But you don’t have to look to far – there’s a reason teams win. When you have Doughtys and Kopitars on your team that your best offensive guys are your best defensive guys, they’re a big reason why.”
Some additional credentials are below. Interestingly, while Kopitar didn’t quite benefit from the possession metrics in the cursory Selke Trophy analysis, Doughty probably benefits from tilting the ice more than Hedman or Subban despite a zone starts ratio that was slanted towards the defensive zone. (It’s also pretty impressive that Subban was able to do what he did with a 43.2% ZSR, lower than Doughty’s and significantly lower than Hedman’s.)
As for as the rates, starts and possession metrics indicate, Hedman also boasted a heck of a resume for this year’s Norris, which should be a pretty close race. Several five-on-five analytics-based looks (courtesy of Corsica.Hockey):
Zone Starts Ratio
Doughty: 28.7 (LAK: 30.9 SA/GP)
Hedman: 32.9 (TBL: 32.7 SA/GP)
Subban: 30.7 (NSH 32.4 SA/GP)
Scoring Chances For/60 (via Natural Stat Trick)
Scoring Chances Against/60 (via Natural Stat Trick)
Via the NHL:
Doughty, 28, had an NHL career-high 60 points (10 goals, 50 assists) in 82 games and led the League in total time on ice (2,200:31) and average ice time (26:50) while helping the Kings allow a League-low 202 goals. He scored his 100th NHL goal Jan. 30 and got his 300th assist and 400th point Feb. 7. His 102 goals, 320 assists and 422 points each rank second behind Rob Blake (161 goals, 333 assists, 494 points) all-time among Kings defensemen.
Doughty won the Norris in 2016, and this is the fourth time he’s a finalist for the award.
Victor Hedman is a Norris Trophy finalist for the second straight season. The Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman, who finished third in 2017, is vying to become the first Lightning player to win the award given to the defenseman who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-around ability at the position.
Hedman, 27, scored 17 goals, tied for first with Ivan Provorov of the Philadelphia Flyers and Dougie Hamilton of the Calgary Flames among NHL defensemen. The goals were a personal NHL best, as was his plus-32 rating. He also set NHL career highs in time on ice per game (25:51) and total time on ice (1,990:30), and his 63 points (17 goals, 46 assists) made him the first defenseman in Lightning history to top 60 points in multiple seasons. He had 72 points (16 goals, 56 assists) in 2016-17.
Subban, 28, helped the Predators lead the League in goals (56) and points (206) by defensemen. His 16 goals were an NHL career high, and his 59 points were one behind his personal best set with the Montreal Canadiens in 2014-15. Subban won the Norris with the Canadiens in 2013 and is a finalist for the third time. He would be the first Predators defenseman to win the trophy.
-Lead photo via Adam Davis/Icon Sportswire