NHL Defensemen Call Out The League For Leaving Them Out To Dry

Published November 26, 2023 at 9:35 PM

Hockey players known for their reliable defensive skills are feeling overlooked, calling for the NHL to recognize their valuable contributions. The Athletic recently published an article discussing the evolving roles of defensemen in today's NHL, with several players advocating for a new award to acknowledge their talents.

NHL Players Voice Their Frustration On Not Awarding Defensive Defensemen

Players like Marc-Édouard Vlasic and Mattias Ekholm expressed their frustration at the absence of an award specifically for defensive defensemen, especially when there's a comparable honor for defensive forwards.

"That aspect blows my mind. There's a defensive forward award, but none for the defensemen." - Marc-Édouard Vlasic

"That's really dated. That's something that should be on the table. There are so many defensive defensemen around the league that keep their whole team together, and they don't get enough recognition around the league." - Mattias Ekholm.

The Norris Trophy, currently the only defenseman-exclusive award, traditionally recognized the best overall defenseman. However, players argue that it now tends to favor those with high offensive stats, like Cale Makar, without necessarily excelling defensively. Erik Karlsson's win last season with a focus on points over defensive prowess highlighted this shift.

"There almost should be (two awards). The Norris Trophy these days is probably a little more on points and production than it is on guys that can really play a defensive, solid game. Erik Karlsson got 100 points last year, but I don't think anyone would say he's a true defending defenseman. He's a modern offensive defenseman, which is part of (the game)."

Barry Trotz, the Predators general manager, suggested the need for potentially two awards—one for offensive contributions and another for solid defensive play. He used Karlsson as an example, emphasizing the modern trend of offensive defensemen.

The push for a new award celebrating outstanding defensive contributions from defensemen is gaining momentum, with voices across the league supporting the idea. It seems increasingly likely that the NHL will consider introducing an award specifically recognizing the defensive excellence of these players, similar to the recognition given to defensive forwards.

November 26   |   220 answers
NHL Defensemen Call Out The League For Leaving Them Out To Dry

Do you think the NHL should have a trophy award for the best defensive defenseman?

Yes18584.1 %
No3515.9 %
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