Will this be the year that Shea Weber
is finally rewarded for his consistently stellar work? (David E. Klutho/SI)
Zdeno Chara of the Bruins, Duncan Keith of the Blackhawks and Shea Weber of the Predators were announced on Monday morning as the three finalists for the 2013-14 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 award is voted on by the members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. The top three vote-getters were designated as finalists.
The winner will be announced on Tuesday, June 24.
Here's what the NHL had to say about the three dynamic defensemen:
Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins
Chara led a Boston defense that paced the Eastern Conference and ranked second in the NHL in goals-against (177), helping the Bruins capture their second Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history and first since 1989-90. He averaged a team-high 24:39 of ice time per game, nearly three minutes more than Boston's second-ranking player, and placed in the top-10 among NHL defensemen in goals (17), plus/minus (+25), power-play goals (10) and game-winning goals (3). Chara is a Norris Trophy finalist for the sixth time, including the third in the past four seasons. He won the award in 2008-09.
Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks
Keith led all defensemen with 55 assists and ranked second among blueliners with 61 points to power a Chicago offense that paced the NHL with 267 goals. He recorded his 40th helper of the season in his 46th game, reaching the milestone faster than any defenseman in franchise history. Keith also posted a career-long, eight-game assist/point streak from November 19 to December 3. He played a team-high average of 24:38 per game, topping the Blackhawks in ice time for the ninth time in as many NHL seasons. He is a Norris Trophy finalist for the second time after winning the award in 2009-10.
Shea Weber, Nashville Predators
Weber ranked first among defensemen with 23 goals and set a franchise record for points by a blueliner (56), leading the Predators in scoring for the second consecutive season. He also paced all backliners in power-play goals (12), ranked fourth in the league in average time on ice (26:54) and set a career high in shooting percentage (11.8 percent). Weber got better as the season progressed, posting a 14-20-34 line, three game-winning goals
and a plus-11 rating in the final 42 games of 2013-14. He is a Norris Trophy finalist for the third time after finishing as runner-up for the award in both 2010-11 and 2011-12.
We say: It would be great to see perennial bridesmaid Weber finally finally win this award—if only as a means of recognizing a career's worth of commendable work—and it's easy to make a case for the all-around excellence of Keith. But this one belongs to Chara, the best player on the league's best team, and arguably the greatest defenseman of the last decade. Much like Mike Babcock's coaching in Detroit, Chara performs at such a consistently high level that it's easy to take him for granted. That shouldn't be the case this time. He was the lynchpin of a blue line that ranked second in the league in goals-against average (2.08) while relying heavily on four rookies, each of whom have credit Chara for playing a key role in their development. An effort like that shouldn't be overlooked.
More awards picks: Hart | Calder | Selke | Vezina | Lady Byng | Masterton | Messier