Adam Fox of the New York Rangers has certainly done enough to warrant consideration to be the Norris Trophy winner. Fox, who entered Tuesday leading NHL defensemen with 46 points and 41 assists, has totals ahead of runner-up Victor Hedman of Tampa Bay in each category.
Unfortunately, a couple of factors will make it difficult for the 23-year-old defenseman to win the prestigious award.
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association vote at the end of the regular season. Each voter ranks their top five candidates on a 10–7–5–3–1 point(s) system. Three finalists are named, and the trophy is awarded at the NHL awards ceremony after the conclusion of the playoffs.
Fox may likely get the first and second-place votes from most of the PHWA’s writers representing the Rangers.
Larry Brooks, one of the senior members of the PHWA, wrote an excellent article detailing Fox’s credentials to win the Norris.
However, it does not appear that many others are fully aware of those credentials.
The betting markets have Hedman as the favorite to win the trophy. Not surprising, as Hedman is having an excellent year for an excellent team. He is also the 2018 winner of the award. Fox is in second place in these markets.
Many in hockey media seem to downplay what the young New York Rangers defenseman has accomplished.
There are some in the rest of the hockey media who will be voting on the award. A recent article from Travis Yost of TSN is the perfect example of downplaying what Fox has done this year.
The title of the article uses “tight Norris race.” But in actuality, it is an article that looks like it had a lot of help from Tampa Bay’s public relations department.
Yost correctly writes that Hedman is having a strong season – a solid season by Norris Trophy standards, which tend to put extreme emphasis on a player’s usage rates and point totals. Voters have long embraced the notion that the modern NHL defenceman is just as much involved offensively as he is defensively, but how we quantify those contributions tends to vary.
But just before that, Yost writes this. “He (Hedman) is comfortably the best defender on one of the league’s indomitable franchises, plays a ton of minutes in all situations, and is a reliable offensive contributor.”
In fact, Fox is barely mentioned in the article. Outside of the betting charts, Fox is mentioned when Yost writes: “When you start leaning on net goal differential, players like Cale Makar, Shea Theodore, and Adam Fox stand out.”
In the criteria mentioned above, Fox leading all defensemen in points doesn’t matter (reliable offensive contributor). Neither does the fact that Fox does play a lot, ranking 12th in the league at 24:24 per game (plays tons of minutes). The one area that Hedman has an advantage that he plays on a playoff team, something that is not certain for Fox and the Rangers.
Norris voters do historically like to vote for players from playoff-bound teams. However, this is the year that someone of Fox’s caliber should be considered. It is not his fault that a worldwide pandemic has shortened this season.
Even if Fox does not win the Norris, it would be nice for many more in the hockey world to recognize what he has done this season.