San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns is a finalist for the Ted Lindsay Award, the NHLPA announced today. Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid and Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby were also named finalists.
I wrote yesterday about how Burns’ path to the Hart Trophy, the league’s “most valuable player” as voted on by the media, was difficult at best. His path to the Lindsay Award, somehow, may be even harder.
The award, presented each year to the league’s “most outstanding player,” is voted upon by the players. The players have only voted a defenseman as the league’s most outstanding player once, when Bobby Orr won the award in 1975.
All but five of the award winners have been forwards (Orr and goaltenders Mike Liut, Dominik Hasek twice, and Carey Price), so it’s more likely than not that McDavid (the odds-on favorite, in my eyes) or Crosby takes home the award.
Still, I would not rule out Burns’ chances entirely, given that he did things we haven’t seen defensemen do in two decades. From the Sharks release:
Amongst NHL defensemen, Burns finished first in points and goals, and was tied for 3rd in assists. His 29 goals are a Sharks franchise record for a defenseman in a single season, and ranks as the 18th highest single season total by a defenseman in NHL history. In addition, his 76 points broke his own Sharks franchise record for most points by a blueliner in a single season (set last year), as he became the first defenseman in the NHL since Brian Leetch (1995-96/96-97) to post back-to-back 75-points seasons. Furthermore, Burns led the NHL in shots on goal (320), becoming the first defenseman since Ray Bourque in 1994-95 to do so, and just the third blueliner (Bourque, Bobby Orr) to accomplish the feat since the NHL started tracking shots on goal in 1967-68.
We’ll know if that’s enough to make Burns the Sharks’ first Lindsay Award winner on June 21 at the 2017 NHL Awards in Las Vegas.