In the fourth edition of theScore’s Norris Trophy Power Rankings, the five defensemen remain unchanged, though there’s a new blue-liner in the top spot. To view the previous rankings, click here.
ATOI = Average time on ice
SCF% = Percentage of scoring chances generated while player was on the ice at 5-on-5
HDCF% = Percentage of high-danger scoring chances generated while player was on the ice at 5-on-5
5. Erik Karlsson, Sharks
Karlsson has gone on quite a run since the last edition of these rankings, collecting 11 assists in his last eight games before missing three contests with a lower-body injury. His scoring-chance metrics are off the charts, but they’re inflated by a 64.6 offensive zone start percentage (OZS%). Nonetheless, Karlsson is proving he’s still among the game’s elite in his first season with the Sharks – as if there was any doubt.
4. Kris Letang, Penguins
Letang ranks third in the NHL in average ice time and logs over five minutes more per game than any of his Penguins teammates. He shoulders plenty of responsibility on Pittsburgh’s blue line and his scoring-chance metrics are still impressive despite starting most of his shifts in the defensive zone. Letang has surprisingly been a Norris finalist just once in his career, but a big second half could put him right in the thick of things.
3. Brent Burns, Sharks
Like Karlsson, Burns‘ deployment has played a major role in his boosted scoring-chance metrics as he owns a 68.6 OZS%. But he leads all defensemen in points and is tied for second among blue-liners with 54 takeaways. He’s been sensational during San Jose’s 15-5-2 run, racking up 26 points in 22 games.
2. Morgan Rielly, Maple Leafs
Rielly has picked up just six points in 10 games since the last edition of these rankings, coinciding with the Maple Leafs‘ recent skid and bumping him out of the top spot. It wouldn’t be surprising, however, to see him back at No. 1 later in the season. Rielly is projected to play alongside the club’s newest addition in Jake Muzzin, a major upgrade from the aging Ron Hainsey.
1. Mark Giordano, Flames
Giordano‘s exceptional play is enough to deserve Hart Trophy consideration, though it likely won’t surface. His 47.9 OZS% shows the trust Flames head coach Bill Peters has in him, and his scoring-chance metrics signal how effectively he drives play. Giordano has easily been the most complete two-way defenseman in the NHL this season, which is remarkable considering he turned 35 in October.
(Advanced stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick)
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