Trophy Tracker: Karlsson remains leader for Norris as best defenseman

To mark the nine months of the 2022-23 regular season, is running the third episode of the Trophy Tracker series. Today we look at the race for the Norris Trophywhich is awarded annually to the NHL’s top defenseman, selected in a vote by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

Eric Karlson knew he was capable of a resurgence.

The San Jose Sharks defenseman had 35 points last season, 22 in 2020-21 and 40 in 2019-20 as he was limited by injuries. He hadn’t scored more than 50 goals since 2017-18 when he had 62 for the Ottawa Senators.

Leading defensemen in goals (19), assists (63) and points (82) in 65 games, Karlsson extended his NHL career to the top of his NHL streak with the Senators in 2015-16, which surprisingly wasn’t one of his two seasons. Career seeded won the Norris Trophy and was voted the NHL’s best defenseman (2011-12, 2014-15).

“I’ve been in this league a long time now,” Karlsson said at NHL All-Star Media Day in February. “I’ve been successful for the most part, if not all, and you’re going to go through times where things aren’t going the way you want them to and that’s just the way it is. . .. I still feel great and I know that hopefully I will feel great for a long time to come.

The 32-year-old was voted the Norris winner at quarter pole and halftime in his 14th NHL season by an panel after not receiving a single voting point in the preseason poll. After three quarters he is still the favourite. Karlsson received 64 voting points, including 10 votes for first place. Rasmus Dahlin the Buffalo Sabers finished second with 50 points and two first place votes Josh Morrissey the Winnipeg Jets finished third with 42 points. Defender for the New York Rangers Adam Fox received the other first place vote.

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Video: [email protected]: Karlsson extends the Sharks’ lead to 3:1 in 3rd place

“I’m rarely surprised by myself, but of course I’m happy that things are going well,” said Karlsson. “…It’s been a tough couple of years. I think the organization and the team are going in a good direction and I think that’s helped me personally.

“I think the things that I was able to control I did as well as I could and at this moment I feel as good as I did before, so I just hope it continues.”

Karlsson had his 80th point in his 63rd game, the fewest by a defenseman since Al MacInnis (62 games) for the Calgary Flames in 1990-91.

“I know the points look like they do and he always does, but just look at what happened in that 6-a-side,” Sharks coach David Quinn said after Karlsson said scored the decisive goal and scored four points in a 5-3 win over the Dallas Stars on January 18. “He was determined to make sure we didn’t give up a goal. I can’t say enough about the way he defended and how hard he fought, things about him not only statistically but I loved coaching him. He’s a smart guy, he wants to win and he’s a special player.”

Goalkeeper of the sharks Jacob Reimer was Karlsson’s teammate for the last two seasons but often faced him when he was with the Toronto Maple Leafs from 2010-2016 and Karlsson played for the Senators.

“Honestly, I think when you play the guy you obviously know how good he is, but when you play with him you notice him more and more,” said Reimer. “…I felt like he was great, but seeing him every day now is amazing. … I hope he keeps doing his thing.”

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Karlsson was the subject of rumors ahead of the 2023 NHL trade deadline on March 3 at 3:00 p.m. ET. Luckily for the Sharks, he stayed with them.

“I don’t want to imagine this team without him,” said Quinn.

Voting results (points are awarded on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis): Erik Karlsson, Sharks, 64 points (10 first place votes); Rasmus Dahlin, saber, 50 (2); Josh Morrissey, Jets, 42; Adam Fox, Ranger, 25 (2); Kal MakarColorado Avalanche, 13; Dougie HamiltonNew Jersey Devils, 9; QuinnHughesVancouver Canucks, 5; Roman JosiNashville predators, 5 (1); Charlie McAvoyBoston Bruns, 4; Hampus LindholmBoston Bruns, 4; Victor HedmanTampa Bay Lightning, 3; Drew DoughtyKings of Los Angeles, 1

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