Making Keith’s case to win the Norris over the competition (Shea Weber and Zdeno Chara, the two other finalists) is not incredibly difficult. Keith had the most assists among NHL defensemen, edging out even the notoriously offensive-oriented Erik Karlsson. His relative corsi is far superior to both Weber and Chara’s, although it should be noted that this is partially mediated by Keith having faced less strong competition. Still, no defenseman matched his two-way game this season; the only knock against Keith is how Joel Quenneville chose to deploy him, while the knocks against Chara and Weber are much more concrete.
Common arguments against Keith’s candidacy tend to be hypothetical-based and thus fallacious. The school of thought that “player X would have done this in player Y’s situation, so player X deserves Z” is senseless and ridiculous, but nevertheless rears its ugly head in award discussions with regularity.
Keith’s combination of offensive and defensive excellence in 2013-14 cannot be equaled by any other defenseman in the NHL, all qualms about quality of competition aside. There was and is no player who makes an equivalently enormous impact from the back end for his team.
Keith has been the best playoff defenseman in the NHL over the last five years. He is primed to earn the appropriate recognition for his regular-season supremacy as well, and should be the favorite to win this year’s Norris Trophy.