- Roman Josi is the +450 favorite to repeat as the Norris Trophy winner as the NHL’s top defenseman in 2020-21
- No Norris winner has repeated since Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom won three in a row from 2005-06 to 2007-08.
- See the opening 2021 NHL Norris Trophy odds, our analysis, and a pick to win the award below
Roman Josi is the early favorite in the Norris Trophy odds to repeat as the winner, but his Nashville Predators team didn’t do much in the offseason to make his quest easier.
The Predators placed 16th in the NHL last season and weren’t overly aggressive in improving themselves. As it stands today, the Predators are projected to be one of a few teams scrapping for a wild card spot in the Western Conference.
Josi, 30, won the Norris on the strength of being a strong two-way defenseman. He posted 16 goals and 49 assists for 65 points in 69 games. He was plus-22 while averaging 25:47 minutes of playing time. The question is whether he can post the same number of points on a team that doesn’t score as many goals as it did last season.
2020-21 NHL Norris Trophy Odds
|Roman Josi (Nashville Predators)||+400|
|John Carlson (Washington Capitals)||+500|
|Victor Hedman (Tampa Bay Lightning)||+550|
|Brent Burns (San Jose Sharks)||+800|
|Erik Karlsson (San Jose Sharks)||+900|
|Alex Pietrangelo (Vegas Golden Knights)||+1400|
|Cale Makar (Colorado Avalanche)||+1400|
|Torey Krug (St. Louis Blues)||+1400|
|Seth Jones (Columbus Blue Jackets)||+1400|
|Morgan Reilly (Toronto Maple Leafs)||+1400|
|Kris Letang (Pittsburgh Penguins)||+1600|
|Quinn Hughes (Vancouver Canucks)||+1600|
Odds taken Nov. 16
Hedman Can be Viewed as a Second Favorite
At 30, the Tampa Bay defenseman Hedman is still in the prime of his career. He’s only a couple of months removed from winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the NHL’s top playoff performer.
He won the Norris in 2017-18 and was a finalist the past two seasons. If you asked an NHL general manager to pick any NHL defenseman to play one game, he would probably pick the 6-foot-6 inch Hedman who is a monstrous force at both ends of the ice.
“It’s the best thing I’ve experienced in my hockey career.”
Victor Hedman joined @ScottOake to talk about the feeling of winning the #StanleyCup and Conn Smythe Trophy after 65 days in the NHL Bubble.#NHLonSN pic.twitter.com/IfwvTWlfy3
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) September 29, 2020
Hedman has keen offensive instincts and likes to jump into the offensive flow. He is still mindful of his defensive responsibilities, using his long reach effectively as a one-on-one defender.
Unlike Josi, Hedman benefits from playing on an elite offensive team. The Lightning led the NHL in goal scoring in 2019-20 and likely will be at, or near the top, of the scoring leaders this season.
Beware of the Longshots in the Norris Hunt
Colorado defenseman Cale Makar has only played 57 NHL regular-season games, but no one would be shocked if he led NHL defensemen in points in 2020-21. Vancouver defenseman Quinn Hughes is only 21, and yet he might be key to the Canucks’ season.
Seth Jones is 26, and there have been times over the past two seasons when he has played like he’s the NHL’s top defenseman.
This is a trophy race where long-odds performers have a shot at winning. Historically, Norris voters seem to prefer experienced players. That would seem to give Jones an edge over Makar and Hughes. But Makar and Hughes have enough offensive sizzle to win over voters quicker than usual. Makar will be the number one defenseman on a Colorado team that is favored in the 2021 Stanley Cup odds.
Calder Cale Makar (@Cmakar16) took home some hardware last night! ?
Who was your top rookie of the season? #NHLAwards pic.twitter.com/2gNevytFwe
— NHL (@NHL) September 22, 2020
Whatever Happened to Drew Doughty?
Doughty plays for the rebuilding Los Angeles Kings. Burns and Karlsson play for a Sharks team that was disappointing last season.
All three of them have previously won Norris Trophies, but have fallen off the media list of Norris contenders because their teams have struggled. If the Kings or Sharks show signs of improvement those players could move into contention. Burns and Karlsson both have the potential to put up gaudy offensive numbers. Doughty is more of an all-around defenseman.
These are players that voting writers know well, and they can move up more easily than players who are less established.
Probably the best pass in the history of hockey. Erik Karlsson in his prime https://t.co/W8zg6BHIG0
— cliff wardle (@winemaker1960) November 12, 2020
There’s Value in Betting Hedman Now
You will probably not get better odds to bet Hedman than you can get today. When you factor in experience and leadership, Hedman is the best all-around defenseman in the game today. He’s blessed with all the necessary attributes to win another Norris, including playing on an elite team.
Best Bet: Hedman (+550)