Norris Trophy Power Rankings: Makar, Fox represent present and future

Michael Martin / National Hockey League / Getty

Welcome to the second edition of theScore's Norris Trophy Power Rankings.

These rankings focus on analytics and the all-around ability of defensemen based on this season's results rather than just points or reputation.

  • xGF% = the share of expected goals a team produces while a player is on the ice at five-on-five
  • GF% = goals for percentage at five-on-five
  • GAR = goals above replacement-level player

5. Victor Hedman, Lightning

Mark LoMoglio / National Hockey League / Getty
GP G A ATOI xGF% GAR
21 3 16 25:32 56.1% 3.5

Previous rank: 5th

Hedman's appearance on this list should come as no surprise. He's been a Norris finalist in each of the last four years, winning the award in 2018. He had a down year last season while playing through a torn meniscus and seemed to garner votes based on reputation and offensive production. Healthy again, the Lightning's star defenseman has returned to his dominant two-way form.

4. Charlie McAvoy, Bruins

Rich Gagnon / Getty Images Sport / Getty
GP G A ATOI xGF% GAR
19 3 11 23:54 60.52% 4.5

Previous rank: 4th

McAvoy's offensive stats pale in comparison to those of other blue-liners on this list. He's come on over the last month with 11 points in 12 November contests, but his defensive play is the primary reason he sits at No. 4. He ranks second among qualified NHL D-men in both xGF% and expected goals against per 60 minutes. The defenders ahead of him play primarily sheltered minutes, while the Bruins rely on McAvoy to shut down opposing stars each game - and he does it as well as anyone in the league.

3. Aaron Ekblad, Panthers

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GP G A ATOI xGF% GAR
22 6 14 25:20 56.34% 7.6

Previous rank: 3rd

It took some time, but Ekblad has finally developed into the Norris-caliber defenseman everyone expected after the Panthers drafted him first overall in 2014. He's been good throughout his career, but he's becoming truly great now - and it's a major reason Florida is an early Presidents' Trophy contender. The 25-year-old played especially well in November, raising his xGF% by more than five percentage points.

2. Cale Makar, Avalanche

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GP G A ATOI xGF% GAR
17 9 11 24:10 52.62% 4.3

Previous rank: N/A

Makar has been a catalyst for an Avalanche squad that's been without Nathan MacKinnon for half the season thus far, ranking third on the team in points. Makar's defensive impact has been paramount as well, as he's top 20 among NHL blue-liners in xGA/60. He's neck-and-neck with No. 1 on our list.

1. Adam Fox, Rangers

Jared Silber / National Hockey League / Getty
GP G A ATOI xGF% GAR
21 4 18 24:36 53.83% 5.8

Previous rank: 2nd

Fox and Makar stack up quite evenly, but the Rangers stalwart gets the edge by virtue of a few key stats. He's played in every game this season, whereas Makar has missed two contests. He starts more shifts in the defensive zone than the offensive zone, while Makar's offensive zone start percentage is above 60%. Fox also has a far greater impact on his team's performance. Colorado's xGF% drops three percentage points when Makar leaves the ice, while New York's nearly decreases by an astounding 10 percentage points with Fox on the bench. The Avalanche could survive without Makar, but the Rangers would be in dire straits without Fox.

Given that Fox and Makar are both just 23, they may go head-to-head for this award many times over the next decade.

Honorable mentions: Roman Josi, Dougie Hamilton

(Analytics sources: Natural Stat Trick, Evolving Hockey)

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Norris Trophy Power Rankings: Makar, Fox represent present and future
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