The 2023 NHL Awards took place yesterday night and there were some big surprises during the show. Seeing Connor McDavid win pretty much every award was not shocking, seeing Erik Karlsson win his third Norris after his team missed out on the postseason was a little bit more of a surprise.
2023 NHL Awards: Erik Karlsson Wins Norris Trophy
Erik Karlsson won the Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenseman for the third time in his career. He beat out Adam Fox and Cale Makar for the trophy. Fox was the runner up and won the award in 2021, Makar on the other hand was in third place but won the award last season.
Makar missed a lot of time this season due to injury, otherwise there is a good chance he could have won the Norris this season, although it is hard to argue against how good Erik Karlsson was this season.
Karlsson played on a struggling San Jose Sharks team, yet he managed to put up 101 points, registering 76 assists throughout the season. It was a career year for Karlsson, and it was a year that could book him a ticket out of San Jose should some team be willing to take on his lengthy and hefty contract.
Karlsson was the first defenseman to surpass 100 points since Brian Leetch did it in 1991-92. Leetch, would also go on to win the Norris Trophy that season with the New York Rangers.
While I do believe that Karlsson is a deserving winner, I do understand the criticism against him. Karlsson was a -26 in the plus minus category, and overall his team was one of the worst in the league defensively.
When it comes to picking the best defenseman in the entire NHL, I wish they did not just pick the player who got the most points each season. It would be nice if the league actually looked at the best defensive players in the game, guys who block shots and steal the puck should also be considered, but that is just not how the league looks at the Norris Trophy.
This is Karlsson’s first Norris Trophy with the San Jose Sharks, it will be interesting to see where he could potentially be playing next season.