The Norris Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL's best defenseman, is one of the most coveted awards in hockey. With the regular season winding down, it's time to take a closer look at the top contenders for the Norris Trophy and their odds of winning. This year's list of contenders includes Erik Karlsson, Cale Makar, Adam Fox, Rasmus Dahlin, and Josh Morrissey, each of whom has had a standout season and is in the running for the award.
However, with playoff spots still up for grabs, the question remains whether their teams will make it to the postseason, and how that will impact their chances of winning the Norris Trophy. In this article, we will take a closer look at each of the top contenders, their odds of winning, and what factors may influence the outcome of the award.
Erik Karlsson (+280)
Since the season began, Erik Karlsson has been leading all defenseman in points. The two-time Norris Trophy winner has 66 points in 51 games heading into the All-Star break, but does he have the staying power to remain the favorite to win the Norris Trophy?
San Jose is not going to make the playoffs, and unless Karlsson keeps a big gap between him and the rest of the pack, it’ll hurt his chances. There have only been five Norris Trophy winners whose team did not qualify for the playoffs. Karlsson is on that list, but when he won the award with Ottawa in 2012, he finished with 25 points more than any other defenseman.
There is a chance Karlsson will be traded, but it isn’t likely due to his big contract. There’s a much greater chance that the Sharks trade their best player, Timo Meier, and gut the roster in other ways, which could slowdown Karlsson’s point production in the final 31 games. Karlsson will almost certainly receive a nomination, but in the end,
Cale Makar (+350)
Injuries have plagued the Colorado Avalanche this season, but they’re holding onto the final wild card spot in the Western Conference, and last season’s Norris Trophy winner is a big reason why. Cale Makar just returned from an injury that kept him out for four games, but he’s been a horse for the defending Stanley Cup champions, playing more minutes per game (27) than any other defenseman in the NHL. Makar has 45 points in 44 games, and with the Avalanche expected to ice a better roster down the stretch, the 24-year-old will have an opportunity to play catch up.
Adam Fox (+350)
Adam Fox plays 25 minutes per game for the Rangers, and his 48 points in 49 games is fourth among defenseman, but right now he’s sort of lost in the crowd. The Rangers are a playoff team, which helps his case, but several of the other contenders are on playoff teams and have produced as many of more points per game than Fox.
Fox won the Norris Trophy back in 2021, but other than that, and the fact that he plays in all situations, there’s not a lot separating him statistically from a player like Dougie Hamilton (+4000). Fox might deserve to be in the conversation, but Fox will probably have to produce more points than Makar, and several other contenders, to get a nomination, and I think the chances of that happening are somewhat slim.
Rasmus Dahlin (+380)
Will the Buffalo Sabres make the playoffs? That’s the question bettors must ask themselves before placing a bet on Rasmus Dahlin to win the Norris Trophy. Only Erik Karlsson has produced more points per game than Dahlin this season, but whether he wins the Norris or not will have a lot to do with where the Sabres finish in the standings. Buffalo just one point back of the Penguins for the final wild card spot and their odds of making the playoffs are +250.
The Sabres have outscored opponents 3.5 – 2.5 (per 60) when Dahlin is on the ice at five-on-five, and that’ll go a long way with voters because the Sabres aren’t a good defensive team. Still, with Karlsson having such a good offensive season, and a competitive field overall, Dahlin might not get nominated if the Sabres don’t make the playoffs. If Buffalo does make the playoffs, Dahlin would be the front runner.
Josh Morrissey (+600)
Of all the top contenders, Winnipeg Jets’ defenseman Josh Morrissey jumps out as the value bet. The 27-year-old ranks fourth in points per game behind Karlsson, Dahlin and Makar, and second on his own team, with 53 points in 52 games. The Jets are a playoff team, but it makes sense that Winnipeg’s odds of winning the Central Division are the same as Morrissey’s odds of winning the Central Division.
Morrissey finds himself in a similar situation as Adam Fox, in my opinion. He’s having a great season, and he’s deserving of a nomination, but if Karlsson scores more points than any defenseman has in 30 years, and Makar is credited with saving his team’s season, Morrissey might find himself playing a game of musical chairs for a nomination.