Every year, the Norris Trophy is handed out to the NHL’s top defensive player, and so far, Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber hasn’t ever been that honored individual.
The Predators leading scorer and general face of the franchise, Weber has turned in another prime performance this season. Facing off against the NHL best scorers shift after shift, the 28-year-old blueliner logs an average of nearly 28 minutes a game; and he’s jumpstarted Nashville’s offense too, with 21 goals and 29 assists.
Earning the Norris isn’t all about reliable defense as the last two winners have shown (P.K. Subban and Erik Karlsson), but Weber has been able to raise his offensive production to this “new criteria” level while still delivering crushing checks and diving pokes checks in the defensive zone.
However, the recognition still isn’t there for Weber, a two-time Norris finalist who has come up empty both times.
“There’s nothing to say other than that you’ve got to be blind not to notice that Shea has been probably the best defenseman in the National Hockey League,” Predators head coach Barry Trotz said. “It absolutely astounds me when I listen to stuff on the TV and radio that he doesn’t get any mention. It is absolutely absurd. You better watch him because he’s the best in the League.”
If you go to the source, you’ll find that the James Norris Memorial Trophy is awarded to the: “defenseman who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.” A definition that should only support Weber’s case.
By this standard, the Norris goes to the defenseman that excels on offense and defense. A rare player that can shut down threats from other team’s most skilled scorers, while lighting the lamp against an opponent consistently as well. Something that Trotz thinks his top blueliner is doing on a regular basis.
In support of Nashville’s coach, Weber’s resume does kind of speak for itself.
The Canadian blueliner has held top forwards like Jonathan Toews, Alex Ovechkin and Henrik Zetterberg without a point, all while scoring a goal himself in those games. And that’s just looking back over the past few months.
One of Weber’s new teammates this season is impressed as well:
“He’s been an absolute horse all year long. He’s been so good,” forward Matt Cullen said. “I knew he was good before I came here, but I don’t think I appreciated until now just how consistently great he is. He’s got such an all-around game. Obviously his shot is good, but Weber is great in all areas honestly.”
Though his odds may not be as good as some hold they should be, Weber will find out if he’ll be one of the top three players selected to travel to Las Vegas as a Norris Finalist next month.
Too bad his teammates and bench boss can’t cast a vote in the process, because seeing him on a nightly basis has certainly won them over.