On Tuesday, the league announced three finalists for the Norris Trophy. Ryan Suter (Minnesota Wild), P.K. Subban (Montreal Canadiens) and Kris Letang (Pittsburgh Penguins) will vie for the title of best defenseman, and Suter should hold a distinct edge over the other two finalists. While Subban and Letang may put up flashier numbers, the award is meant for the best defenseman, not the best offensive defenseman. Suter made a huge difference for the Wild this season, and was instrumental in leading the team to the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
After signing a massive long-term deal with the wild in the summer, expectations for Suter were incredibly high. Questions of how well he would perform as a top defenseman on his own with a new team were asked frequently, as much of his early-career success was tied to Shea Weber while with the Nashville Predators. Suter showed he is more than capable of leading the way on his own, and he managed four goals and 28 assists while playing in all 48 games for the Wild this season.
Three of Suter’s goals and 12 of his points came on the power play, and he finished the season averaging nearly four more minutes of ice time than anyone else on his team. He finished third on the Wild in points, and does not benefit from playing with other star defensemen like Subban and Letang do. Subban missed time due to a contract holdout, and an injury kept Letang out for nearly a quarter of the season. With the season already shortened by the lockout, giving either of these players an award for what they did in part of a partial season just seems silly. Suter deserves to take home the Norris, and this won’t be the last time he’s a finalist for it.