It’s official, Drew Doughty grabbed a nomination for the coveted Norris Trophy as a 20 year old. The finalists were announced today, and Drew Doughty was joined with Mike Green and Duncan Keith as Norris Trophy finalists. The Norris Trophy (in case for some reason you’re unaware) is awarded to the best defenseman in the league, and at least in recent years has been utterly dominated by Niklas Lidstrom. In fact, he won an absurd 6 of the last 8 trophies, the only exceptions being Zedno Chara last year, and Scott Neidermayer in 2003-2004.
The award ceremony will be held in Las Vegas on June 23rd, 2010, hopefully just after the Kings lift the Stanley Cup. One thing seems particularly clear when looking at the nominees, a new generation of blue-liners has arrived. None of the finalists are older than 26 years old, and none of them have been nominated for the Norris previously. No matter who wins, it will surely signal a shift in the defensive power structure in the NHL.
Frankly I think this is a two-horse race between Keith and Doughty. Mike Green puts up some crazy points to be sure, but he’s backed up by an insanely high-octane offense, and his defensive abilities are not quite at the same level as Doughty or Keith. Let’s take a quick look at the numbers:
Mike Green 19G 57A 76P
Duncan Keith 14G 55A 69P
Drew Doughty 16G 43A 59P
Doughty is solidly in third place in the points race, but has been a deciding factor in his team success. He’s also got more game-winning goals than any of the other nominees, supporting the fact that he’s a clutch player who picks his game up when needed. It’s that kind of drive that Kings fans (and coaches, and players) are no doubt hoping to see in Vancouver tonight.
Let’s end this by saying that even if Doughty doesn’t win the Norris Trophy this year, one thing is clear. He’s served notice to the NHL that he is here. Now Lombardi and the Kings need to lock him up long-term and head forward with some real momentum. Doughty for Norris!