The St. Louis Blues were hopeful their top defender might get some love when it came to the Norris Trophy this year. They will come up empty handed again.
The St. Louis Blues officially learned that Ryan O’Reilly will be the only member of the team to be a finalist for any of the awards given out after the season. O’Reilly is up for the Lady Byng and Selke Trophy.
Unfortunately, on the day they learned O’Reilly would be a finalist for the Selke, they found out the trio that will be finalists for the Norris Trophy. Alex Pietrangelo was not among those names.
While his omission is a snub, it comes as no surprise. In recent years, the award has become too offensively focused and is almost always given to the defender who has the most points or the most goals.
If that continues to be mostly true, John Carlson will undoubtedly win. He was the odds on favorite anyway, even if Pietrangelo had managed to sneak into the final three.
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Carlson finished with a rather impressive 75 points, with 15 goals. From a pure numbers point of view, Carlson was the shakiest defender only registering a defensive point share of 3.5.
In the defensive point share category, Pietrangelo is on the same level as the other two finalists. Petro had a DPS of 4.3, compared to 4.8 for both Roman Josi and Victor Hedman.
Honestly, Hedman’s numbers surprised me because he strikes me as an only offense type of player. However, that is not really true as he is quite good defensively, according to the numbers.
Additionally, Hedman has won a Norris Trophy already. Once you’re in the club, you’re more likely to get votes the next time too.
This is Josi’s first time in the top three. He’s never finished higher than fifth in the voting prior to 2019-20.
Truthfully, from a pure numbers point of view, you can’t really argue Pietrangelo over these three. Despite setting a new personal record for goals and being on pace to have a new record for points, Pietrangelo doesn’t measure up offensively to the other guys.
Pietrangelo also had a career low in blocked shots. The numbers were never on his side.
The difference is, even fully admitting our hometown bias, Pietrangelo just feels like a better defender. This is not a knock on any of the other players, but if I have a Stanley Cup Final game to win and need someone to help shut down the opponent, I’m going to take Pietrangelo over Josi and Carlson.
And while Petro doesn’t have the overall numbers, he’s still big when needed. He had six power play goals in 2019-20 and three game winners. Carlson had six game winners, but only two on the power play. Hedman had four on the power play and three game winners.
Pietrangelo was actually tied with Josi for the most goals out of all those players. He just lacked in the assist department.
So, on one hand, Pietrangelo’s omission from the final Norris Trophy list is not surprise. On the other hand, maybe it should be more of a surprise.
Hopefully Pietrangelo can crack the top three at some point in his career. Al MacInnis did not win the award until 1998-99 when he was 35, so there is still hope.
It just won’t be in 2019-20.