The National Hockey League announced today that Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson is one of three finalists for the Norris Trophy, which is presented annually to the top defenseman in the NHL. Carlson joins Nashville’s Roman Josi and Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman as the three finalists. 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 announced as finalists.
Carlson is aiming for his first career Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman. Carlson could become the second player in franchise history to claim the prestigious award since Rod Langway in 1982-83 and 1983-84. Carlson’s 75 points in 69 games this season (15g, 60a) led all defensemen, 10 points ahead Josi and 20 points ahead of Hedman, who finished second and third among defensemen in points, respectively. Carlson is the eighth defenseman in NHL history to hold a 10 point lead over the next highest scoring defenseman and a 20 point lead over the third highest scoring defenseman and the first since Erik Karlsson (Ottawa) in 2011-12. Karlsson won the Norris Trophy that season.
Carlson’s 1.09 points per game this season were the highest total by a defenseman since Ray Bourque, Al MacInnis and Sergei Zubov in the 1993-94 season. As the highest scoring defenseman, Bourque won the Norris Trophy that season. Only 13 other defensemen in NHL history have recorded at least 1.09 points per game in a single season after playing 69 games. Nine of the 13 defensemen have won the Norris Trophy in their career. Carlson was the only defenseman this season to average 1.09 points per game. The last time only one defenseman averaged at least 1.09 points per game in a single season was 1988-89 (Paul Coffey: 113 points in 75 games). He became one of five defensemen to reach the 70 point mark in 59 or fewer games in the last 30 years.
This season, Carlson was on pace for 89 points over an 82-game season. Only nine defensemen in NHL history have recorded 89 points in a season (Coffey: eight times; Bobby Orr: six times; Bourque: four times; Denis Potvin: three times; MacInnis: twice; Phil Housley, Brian Leetch, Gary Suter and Zubov: each once). Carlson’s 89 points would have been the highest by a defenseman since Bourque and Zubov in 1993-94 (Bourque: 91 points; Zubov: 89 points).
Carlson’s 60 assists led all NHL defensemen and ranked fourth among all players in the NHL (Leon Draisaitl: 67; Connor McDavid: 63; Artemi Panarin: 63). Carlson is the first defenseman to rank fourth or better in the NHL in assists in a single season since Hedman in 2016-17. He became the 10th defenseman since 1979-80 to record 60 assists within his first 67 games. Over the last twenty seasons, only three other defensemen have recorded at least 60 assists in a season (Nicklas Lidstrom, twice, 2005-06 and 2007-08: 64 and 60 assists, respectively; Erik Karlsson, 2015-16: 66 assists; Brent Burns, 2018-19: 67 assists). All three players have won the Norris Trophy in their careers. Carlson was on pace for 71 assists prior to the suspension of the season, which would have been the highest total by a defenseman since 1993-94.
According to The Point powered by SPORT LOGiQ, Carlson ranked second in the NHL in completed stretch passes (258) and third in blocked passes (466). Carlson ranked ahead of both Josi and Hedman in blocked shots per 60 minutes of play (Carlson: 3.81; Hedman: 3.70; Josi: 3.64), ahead of Josi in hits per 60 minutes of play (Carlson: 1.94; Josi: 1.75) and takeaways per 60 minutes of play (Carlson: 1.48; Josi: 1.14).
Carlson led all defensemen in game-winning goals (6), two shy of the NHL record set by Oliver Ekman-Larsson in 2015-16. He ranked seventh in the NHL in time on ice (1,699:14) and led all defensemen in time on ice per shift (0:58).
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