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In this edition of the hotstove, we share our thoughts on who should win the Norris Trophy.
The year he put together with the New York Rangers was nothing short of remarkable. He played insane minutes and garnered extremely good results.
At 5v5, the Rangers controlled more than 54% of the expected goals with Fox on the ice. That number is very good for any player on any team. To post them on a non-playoff team that, as a whole, posted a 48.08 xGF%? Incredible.
Fox helped tilt the ice in New York’s favor to a huge degree every time he was on the ice. That did lead to results, as the Rangers were +12 with him on the ice at 5v5.
He was also an absolute force on the power play, which was a big reason why he managed to produce at nearly a point per game clip (47 in 55).
I know Cale Makar posted unbelievable numbers for Colorado. He’s a fantastic player and he deserves a lot of credit. But, I mean, Colorado largely used Makar and Devon Toews behind the Nathan MacKinnon line to form an unstoppable 5-man unit on home soil. Makar was a big reason for that, of course. It’s just easier to post results under those circumstances.
For perspective, Makar spent nearly 50% of his 5v5 minutes with MacKinnon. Fox spent ~25% of his 5v5 minutes with New York’s best player, Artemi Panarin. Big difference.
Makar paired almost exclusively with Devon Toews, a fantastic two-way defender. Fox’s primary partner was Ryan Lindgren who, while solid, is...not Devon Toews. Again, there's a difference.
I think both players are incredible. In terms of talent level, I think Makar is ahead. But Fox posted similarly impressive results under much worse circumstances so, to me, he deserves the hardware.
For me it has to be Cale Makar. His point totals alone, 8 goals and 36 assists in 44 games is an impressive feat alone but other defensemen put up more points, including Adam Fox who was also nominated for the award. What makes Makar the choice for me is how he impacts the game around him. Out of all defensemen in the league who played at least 800 minutes at 5 on 5, no one posted a better CF% than Makar at 60.88%. When Makar was on the ice the Avalanche produced 49 EV goals while only allowing 30 and posted an xGF% of 61.77. The Avs were a dominant offensive team this season and Makar was a huge part of that process.
Fox also had an impressive year and deserves recognition but I think missing the playoffs and the overall GA for the Rangers hurt his chances. The one player who certainly should not win this season is Victor Hedman. Make no mistake, Hedman is the best defender in the league but if the award is to go to who was the best defenseman this season it shouldn't be his. I would actually argue a few names ahead of Hedman this season for the award including Jacob Chychurn and yes, Darnell Nurse.
Numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com