Norris – Alex Pietrangelo
Had former All-Star defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk remained with St. Louis through the NHL trading deadline, he would have likely topped his season-high points as a member of the Blues and may have presented a stronger case as the team’s best defenseman. Since his departure, Alex Pietrangelo secured his spot as the Blues’ top defenseman this season and no one else was even close.
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In St. Louis’s final 21 games without Shattenkirk, Pietrangelo compiled 17 points on five goals and 12 assists. His offensive surge may have resulted from increased power play time and a weaker slate of opponents in the final two months, but his plus-10 +/- improvement since the start of March suggests more.
Pietrangelo’s recent adjustments have not restricted his defensive abilities either, finishing with a career-high 53 takeaways and reaching 150 blocks for the third time in his career. The 27 year-old came into the season with heightened expectations when taking over the captaincy void held previously by David Backes, but the leadership has been present playing in at least 80 games for the third time in four seasons.
Chance of NHL awards recognition
Similar to Allen, Pietrangelo finds himself in another one of those situations where a strong late-season push may not be enough to capture league interest. Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson and Victor Hedman are likely to compete for Norris honors. It’s worth noting that Pietrangelo had a Top 5 finish for Norris honors as recently as 2014, but it’s difficult to predict how much of a window is left to become recognized as the league’s top blueliner.