NEW YORK – Drew Doughty constantly thinks about winning the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman. If he keeps up this pace, that will become a reality in less than five months.
Doughty doesn’t blow away the competition statistically like Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators or John Klingberg of the Dallas Stars, but the Los Angeles Kings star is dominant at both ends of the rink. He controls the puck more than anyone at his position and raises his game in the biggest spots — the Stanley Cup playoffs and the Olympics.
Maybe that’s why Doughty has fallen short in Norris voting in the past — the regular season isn’t his peak time to shine. But Doughty has been on the ice for the highest percentage of shot attempts for his team of any defenseman in the league, a good way of measuring just how much of an impact he has for the Pacific Division-leading Kings.
Karlsson and Klingberg will warrant consideration, and so should the Montreal Canadiens’ P.K. Subban.
Here are the midseason projections for the other major NHL trophies:
HART: If Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks continues to lead the scoring race by double digits, he’s the MVP. Even with Jonathan Toews in the picture, Kane has been outstandingly terrific and productive all season. Also in the mix: Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby and Dallas Stars left wing Jamie Benn.
VEZINA: Holtby is automatic if he breaks Martin Brodeur’s single-season wins record and remains among the goals-against average and save percentage leaders as the Capitals cruise toward the Presidents’ Trophy. Also in the mix: Cory Schneider of the New Jersey Devils and Roberto Luongo of the Florida Panthers.
CALDER: Artemi Panarin of the Blackhawks is 24 and had six seasons of professional experience in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, but the best rookie is the best rookie. Panarin has 46 points in 53 games so far. Also in the mix: Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere.
SELKE: This is usually a Toews/Patrice Bergeron contest, but Anze Kopitar of the Kings is actually the best two-way forward this season. Kopitar’s line dominates with the puck and rarely lets opponents touch it. Also in the mix: Bergeron of the Boston Bruins and Toews.
JACK ADAMS: Gerard Gallant isn’t a household name, but the Florida Panthers coach knows how to get the most out of young and old talent alike. The Panthers have grown up under Gallant. Also in the mix: Barry Trotz of the Capitals and Lindy Ruff of the Stars.