Brent Burns Has Been Tearing Up the 2016-17 Season Offensively and Defensively. The D-Man Has Been Seemingly Unstoppable This Season and Leads the Race For the Norris Trophy With Good Reason.
This year, Brent Burns is proving to be an offensive juggernaut. The San Jose Sharks rearguard leads the league in Goals, Points, and Shots for the position.
The Norris Trophy is the award presented to the NHL defenseman who exhibits the best all-around ability during a given season. Since it’s debut after the 1953-54 season, it has been handed to defensemen who display solid play in their own end, as well as above average offensive statistics.
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The question is: does Brent Burns offensive dominance make him and the Norris a guaranteed tandem at the award ceremony?
With 27 goals in his back pocket, he currently sits 14 ahead of the next D-man, Shea “No Norris” Weber. His juicy 64 point total also puts him 13 ahead of the next in line of that category, Erik Karlsson.
Burns’ offensive tear puts him in the position to be the first defenseman to score 30+ goals in a season since Mike Green did so in 2008-09.
But do the gaudy offensive stats make him a lock to take home the Norris? The trophy is supposed to be awarded to the best all-around DEFENSEman. Therefore, could Burns’ defensive stats hinder his chances?
While the winner is usually near the top of the score sheet, over the years it hasn’t always been enough. Over the past ten seasons, the leading scorer among D-men has taken the Norris home four times. Drew Doughty won the hardware last year when he finished tied for tenth in scoring.
Burns ranks a respectable fifth in the league in takeaways with 38 but leads all defenseman with 116 giveaways. He also isn’t anywhere on the radar for Blocked Shot totals. While this might seem like a trivial stat, it could be a talking point for other top-tier D-men. For example, Erik Karlsson ranks second in the league with 145 blocks.
Another interesting stat that could effect Burns’ Norris bid is Time on Ice. He currently sits tenth in the league with an average of 24:54 of TOI per game. Only 1:47 of that is shorthanded. Drew Doughty, Erik Karlsson, and Duncan Keith all have won the Norris, and all average more Time on Ice per game.
Burns’ lack of TOI is nothing he can control and could be seen as more of a representation of the Sharks as a whole. The point is that there are multiple statistical areas of the game where Burns doesn’t rule with an iron fist.
In the End
One thing is for sure: Brent Burns is having a season for the ages. Therefore, who knows how many goals he will have by the end of the campaign. As of now, he sits third among all players in points, under some guys named McDavid and Crosby.
His forward like stat line aside, the James Norris Memorial Trophy has proven to be about the intangibles. Could someone who is having a traditionally solid season swipe the honors? Or In Burns’ case; is the best defense a good offense?