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Brent Burns a Finalist for the Norris Trophy

Will the second time be a charm?

Give this man a trophy, please.
John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Sharks’ defenseman Brent Burns has been named a finalist for the James Norris Memorial Trophy. This is the second consecutive season in which Burns has been a finalist for the trophy given to "defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position". The other two finalists are a pair of Swedes: Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators. Last season, Burns finished third in the Norris voting behind Karlsson and Drew Doughty, who won.

Burns had a great start to the season, and my the All Star Game, many observers were saying that the Norris was all but his. But Burns was unable to keep up his torrid scoring pace, and Karlsson went on a terrific run of his own down the stretch. It is not the sure thing that it appeared to be in February, but Burns has a very good chance at winning.

The main argument for Burns is his offense. He led all blueliners with 76 points, and while Hedman (72) and Karlsson (71) were close to matching Burns’ point total, his 29 goals was far and away the highest total among defensemen (Karlsson was tied for second with 17). More impressively, Brent Burns led the NHL in shots on goal with 320. It is uncommon for a defenseman to lead the league in this stat, but Burns finished ahead of everybody, including the offensive stars, like Alex Ovechkin, who normally lead in this category. Among defensemen, Burns’ total of 320 shots was nearly double that of fellow Norris finalist Victor Hedman.

As far as advanced stats go, Burns finished the season with a 53.76 CF%, 59.84 GF%, and 51.76 xGF%. Karlsson’s were 49.72 CF%, 62.14 GF%, and 50.34 xGF%. Hedman’s were 53.36 CF%, 51.98 GF%, and 51.85 xGF%. Not much really separates the three here.

Will his offense be enough for Burns to win? It is hard to say. Critics will argue that he does not get the most difficult defensive assignments on his own team. Personally, I think that Burns offensive numbers should be enough, but I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if Karlsson wins his third Norris Trophy.