For the Nashville Predators, it's been a season of firsts (and it's not over yet) - yesterday, the team won their first playoff series, and last week Pekka Rinne was nominated for the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the league's best goaltender.
The accolades continue to roll in, as today Preds' captain Shea Weber has been named a finalist for the Norris Trophy, an award that's given to the defenseman who "demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-around ability in the position." Weber has slowly but surely gained notoriety around the NHL, and the recognition is, like Rinne's, incredibly well-deserved.
After the jump, reviewing the credentials of Weber and the other two finalists for the award.
Norris Trophy voting is done by the Professional Hockey Writer's Association, and based upon regular season performance.
#6 / Defenseman / Nashville Predators
Aug 14, 1985
|2010 - Shea Weber||82||16||32||48||7||56||6||1||3||254|
I could make the case for Weber fairly easily, because in my mind there's not a more complete defenseman in the game today who had a better year overall. That said, it's already been done. Per Dirk:
Weber's game has developed steadily over the years, and after a 2009-10 campaign which raised eyebrows around the NHL (not least due to his performance at the Olympics), he's followed through with even stronger results this season. You'd be hard pressed to find another defenseman who contributes in so many different ways to his team's cause, and as a result, he has the Preds contending for home-ice advantage in the playoffs, confounding outside predictions that mostly had them missing out.
He's pretty much done everything you can do on the ice to establish himself as the best all-around defenseman in the game - but have enough hockey writers around the league paid attention? That's my big concern.
#5 / Defenseman / Detroit Red Wings
Apr 28, 1970
|2010 - Nicklas Lidstrom||82||16||46||62||-2||20||7||0||1||175|
Lidstrom is perhaps the greatest defenseman to ever play the game, and had yet another stellar season at the age of 40. That said, Weber's year was probably better, all things considered, so it'll be interesting to see the order of finish.
#33 / Defenseman / Boston Bruins
Mar 18, 1977
|2010 - Zdeno Chara||81||14||30||44||33||88||8||1||2||264|
Along with Lidstrom, Chara is a former Norris winner and does a little bit of everything for the Boston Bruins, and all of it well. He's also the only player in the NHL with a harder shot than Shea Weber.
It's a pretty strong crop of nominees this year - each of Weber, Lidstrom, and Chara captain their teams, and all three play significant minutes in every situation, unlike Lubomir Visnovsky or Keith Yandle. What do you think? Will Shea Weber unseat the establishment, or will the old guard continue to rule?
Here's what the NHL had to say in their press release:
Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins, Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings and Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators are the three finalists for the 2010-11 James Norris Memorial Trophy, which is awarded "to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position," the National Hockey League announced today.
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association submitted ballots for the Norris Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced Wednesday, June 22, during the 2011 NHL Awards from the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel Las Vegas. The 2011 NHL Awards will be broadcast by VERSUS in the United States and CBC in Canada.
Following are the finalists for the Norris Trophy, in alphabetical order:
Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins
Chara is a Norris Trophy finalist for the third time in the past four seasons and for the fourth time overall; he finished second in 2004, third in 2008 and captured the award in 2009. The Bruins captain led the NHL in plus-minus in 2010-11 with a +33 rating, matching his career high set in 2003-04. He recorded 44 points (14 goals, 30 assists), marking the seventh consecutive season he has surpassed the 40-point plateau. Chara also ranked second among NHL defensemen in shots (264), tied for third in power-play goals (eight) and was sixth in average ice time per game (25:26).
Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings
Lidstrom is a Norris Trophy finalist for the 11th time in the past 13 seasons. He has captured the award six times, placed second three times and third once. Lidstrom enjoyed one of his most productive seasons, ranking second among NHL defensemen in scoring with 62 points (16 goals, 46 assists) in 82 games, highlighted by a career-best 11-game point streak. He tied for fourth place among League defensemen in goals, was third in assists and tied for sixth in power-play goals (six). The Red Wings captain, who turns 41 on Thursday, led the Central Division champions in ice time, averaging 23:28 per contest.
Shea Weber, Nashville Predators
Weber, drafted by Nashville in second round of the 2003 Entry Draft, is a Norris Trophy finalist for the first time. Only two NHL skaters saw more ice time in 2010-11 than Weber, who appeared in all 82 games and averaged 25:19 per contest. The Predators captain set single-season career highs in several categories, including games, average ice time, assists (32) and shots (254). Topping all Nashville defensemen in scoring with 48 points (16 goals, 32 assists), his offensive contribution proved crucial to Nashville in securing a sixth playoff berth in seven seasons; the Predators posted a 13-2-1 record when he scored a goal.
The James Norris Memorial Trophy was presented in 1953 by the four children of the late James Norris in memory of the former owner-president of the Detroit Red Wings.