For the second time in his career, defenseman Drew Doughty is a finalist for the Norris Trophy. From the NHL's press release:
Doughty anchored a Los Angeles defense that finished in the top 10 in the NHL in goals against for the sixth consecutive season. He played in all 82 games for the second time in his career (also 2009-10), pacing the League in total time on ice (2,377:40) and ranking second in average time on ice (28:59). Doughty also posted 7-39—46, his second-best offensive season behind 2009-10 (16-43—59), and led the NHL in a number of enhanced statistics categories, including the team puck possession metric SAT (shot attempts differential) – the Kings registered 410 more shot attempts than they allowed with him on the ice at 5-on-5. Doughty is a Norris Trophy finalist for the second time after finishing third in voting in 2009-10.
As you (hopefully) know, the Norris is awarded to the NHL's best defenseman. Rob Blake is the only defenseman in Los Angeles Kings history to win the Norris; it's been long assumed that Doughty would join that exclusive club at some point. Was he good enough this year to earn the nod?
Doughty's certainly got some of the numbers. For one, the usage; his ice time was astonishing, second only to Ryan Suter (29:04) and well ahead of fellow nominees Erik Karlsson (third, 27:15) and P.K. Subban (sixth, 26:12). Doughty also played more of that time on the penalty kill, especially compared to Karlsson, whose lack of PK use is probably the biggest knock on his candidacy. The raw possession numbers are also in Doughty's favor, as he's posted a 56.4% Corsi For this season. That's not the best percentage, but as mentioned above, he had the highest total shot differential of any player this season.
The cases against? For one, Doughty lagged behind in the points department; Karlsson and Subban were 1-2 among defensemen with 66 and 60 points this season, while Doughty's 46 was tied for 14th. Doughty also didn't do as well relative to his teammates as Karlsson and Subban did in the possession department, though that's to be expected when you're on a team with Jake Muzzin. (And when you have to skate without him for a while.) The biggest reason that Doughty is likely to miss out, of course, is that LA didn't make the playoffs. It's not a team award, of course, but that's the way these things go.
It appears that Karlsson is the odds-on favorite, but the race is wide-open. (If Mark Giordano hadn't been hurt, he'd pretty much be a lock, wouldn't he?) If it doesn't go Doughty's way? Get ready for another year of "We already KNOW Doughty's the best defenseman in the NHL, but maybe this season he'll actually be named the best defenseman in the NHL!"
Do you like Doughty's Norris chances?