25 Worst award snubs in NHL history: 5. Erik Karlsson Norris Trophy 2016
Erik Karlsson isn’t talked about as one of the best defensemen in the league since he’s been traded to the San Jose Sharks, but when he was with the Ottawa Senators, there was no doubt that he was at the top of the list. He could be dominant on the offensive end without losing anything on the other side of things. Karlsson was beyond great. In 2016, it looked like he would be the obvious choice as the Norris Trophy.
So, how did Drew Doughty end up winning the award? Karlsson had 66 points, and he was still at the peak of his powers. He was 25 years old and he already had two Norris Trophies to his name. This was a clear moment of voter fatigue.
Karlsson led the league in assists. No, this wasn’t just leading defensemen in assists. He led all players with 66 assists in 2016. He also played just under 29 minutes per game. Karlsson was on the ice for basically half of every single game.
This was one of those places where the voters felt Doughty was “owed” the Norris Trophy because it was his “time”. That’s not how this should work. Karlsson was the best defenseman in the league that year, but the voters chose someone else. Maybe there was an assumption that Karlsson would keep winning Norris Trophies, and taking one away from him would be okay. He’s never won another Norris, and now it’s unlikely it will ever happen again.