Burnside and LeBrun: Our Norris winners
Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun weigh in with their picks (a reminder that the league's 30 GMs vote on the award and the winner will be announced on June 22 in Las Vegas):
Burnside: An incredibly close race with Anaheim's Lubomir Visnovsky leading all blueliners in points, Shea Weber having a tremendous second half in Nashville and Zdeno Chara and Keith Yandle making a case in Boston and Phoenix, respectively. But for me, Nicklas Lidstrom's continued blue-chip level of play for a Detroit Red Wings team that once again has had to battle significant injuries gives him the edge. As one NHL GM pointed out to me this week, the fact that he isn't playing as much with Brian Rafalski has put more pressure on Lidstrom, but he still does it all at the highest level. As for those who point to Lidstrom's plus/minus (he is minus-1 through 79 games), never mind. The stat means next to nothing.
LeBrun: For a while, it appeared Lidstrom was going to run away with his seventh Norris Trophy in a cakewalk, but hard-charging Visnovsky of the Ducks has made it quite a race with his league-leading 66 points among defensemen. I also point to his plus-15 rating. And that's what Lidstrom's detractors are pointing to, the Wings captain's minus-1 rating as of Wednesday morning. But I attribute that more to the team's defensive struggles this season and not the legend's own play.
Chara also deserves strong consideration, while Kris Letang, Yandle and Weber also have merit. In the end, I find myself vacillating between Lidstrom and Visnovsky. In the end, even at age 40, "The Perfect Human" still rocks.
Norris Trophy: Your vote?
Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom has won the Norris Trophy six times.