Victor Hedman, Adam Fox, Cale Makar and even Drew Doughty. All defenseman who have regularly been talked about as Norris favorites for this season’s recipient of the award. The Norris trophy awarded annually to the defensive player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position has morphed more into an award given to the best offensive defenseman. While many of the above mentioned are worthy to be regulars in the conversation one that is left off the list is Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun. Even with an expanded look at the top 10 candidates in the Norris race, Chychrun is largely nowhere to be found.
While the desert plays a role in the lack of recognition, whether that is fair or not is another question. Chychrun quietly, albeit not quiet to those following has emerged as the definitive number 1 defenseman on the team and a star on the rise in the NHL. Along the way, he has piled on the goals topping the list of all defenseman with 18 for the season and 22 assists good for 40 points overall. Only 14 of his points have come on special teams either via powerplay or shorthanded which is less than any of the top candidates. Simply put, Chychrun has dominated offensively at even strength. Only Charlie McAvoy, Darnell Nurse and Ryan Pulock have less special team points but each also have less points overall. All 3 have been brought up in the Norris conversation at points during this season while Chychrun continues to climb the ladder. `
Sure the Coyotes season doesn’t help. A franchise that has struggled to produce offensively, especially on the back end and has had an underwhelming run to the end here makes what Chychrun is doing even more impressive. He is largely the lone wolf of production from the back end, with almost double the points of Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Alex Goligoski before the offense drops off the map. Overall with his goals topping the league for defenseman, his points total putting him right in the middle of the Norris pack and being comparable in advanced stats, its tough to see him not get the recognition he deserves.
For the franchise, they have their defined true number 1 defenseman and by all accounts it won’t be long before the eyes of the NHL start highlighting this diamond in the desert.Embed from Getty Images