Norris Trophy Rankings: Fox looking to win for 2nd time in 3 years
Welcome to the third edition of theScore's 2022-23 Norris Trophy Rankings and the second in-season version. New rankings are published once a month throughout the campaign.
These rankings focus on analytics and the all-around ability of defensemen 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
5. Miro Heiskanen, Stars
Previous rank: N/A
Heiskanen doesn't possess the same gaudy point totals as other players on this list - or even some of the blue-liners that were omitted - but he is firmly in the Norris race largely due to his defensive abilities. He uses his elite skating, positioning, and active stick to thwart offensive attacks, which is a big reason why he ranks sixth among all defensemen in defensive goals above replacement.
The Dallas Stars workhorse is no slouch offensively, either. And with John Klingberg out of the picture, he's doing a fine job quarterbacking the No. 1 unit on the Stars' ninth-ranked power play.
4. Cale Makar, Avalanche
Previous rank: 4th
The Colorado Avalanche are already relying on Makar a lot, as he leads the league in average time on ice. But the team will need him to step up in a big way over the next month or so since injuries have completely decimated Colorado's current lineup.
If Makar can put the team on his back and keep the Avalanche afloat, he could very well find himself in the top spot on this list for his heroics come January.
But for now, Makar comes in at No. 4. He's been great, don't get us wrong, but he hasn't been quite as dominant as he was when he won the Norris a year ago. His production and underlying numbers have both taken a bit of a step back.
3. Erik Karlsson, Sharks
Previous rank: 2nd
Karlsson's play has been one of the NHL's best stories this season. After a couple of down years, he's undoubtedly been the league's best offensive defenseman, pacing all blue-liners in goals, points, and offensive goals above replacement.
However, his defensive deficiencies prevent him from landing any higher on this list. While he's never exactly been known as a shutdown defender, he currently owns a negative defensive goals above replacement rating.
Sure, Karlsson may have lost a half step since he last won the Norris in 2014-15 due to injuries and aging, but he's still elite because he thinks the game as well as anyone. If he's going to win the Norris, though, his offense will need to be absurd while his defense is palatable. And the former seems to be coming down to earth a bit, as he's produced seven points in his last 10 games.
2. Rasmus Dahlin, Sabres
Previous rank: 1st
It might officially be time to put Dahlin in the same breath as other elite young defensemen, such as Heiskanen, Makar, and Adam Fox.
Dahlin's stock was trending in the wrong direction after a down year in 2020-21, but he was great last season and has taken an even greater leap this year. He's showing no signs of slowing down either, playing at over a point-per-game pace since the last edition of these rankings.
The 2018 1st overall pick is big, physical, skilled, smart, and skates exceptionally well. What more could you ask for? If we were to nitpick, he's been rather undisciplined this season - racking up 36 penalty minutes - but If the Swede can stay out of the box, he could easily move back into the top spot.
1. Adam Fox, Rangers
Previous rank: 3rd
It's hard to imagine where the New York Rangers would be without Fox. The Blueshirts are in peril right now, but their star blue-liner is humming along just fine. He's racked up 21 points in 17 games since our last edition of these rankings.
Additionally, both Fox's point production and underlying numbers are better than they were during his Norris-winning campaign in 2021. Factoring in both his offensive and defensive contributions, he's been the NHL's best all-around defenseman this season.
If Fox can claim his second Norris, he'd become the ninth defenseman ever to win the award twice in a three-year span, joining legends such as Nicklas Lidstrom, Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey, and Bobby Orr.
Honorable mentions: Filip Hronek, Shea Theodore, Josh Morrissey
(Analytics sources: Natural Stat Trick, Evolving-Hockey)