The NHL confirmed Sunday what we've known pretty much all season: Brent Burns is a Norris Trophy finalist.
The award is given annually to the defenseman voted to have demonstrated the greatest all-around ability at the position throughout the season.
The finalist designation comes as no surprise, after Burns -- who previously won the Norris for the first time in 2017 -- led all NHL defensemen in assists (67), points (83), game-winning goals (six) and shots on goal (300) during the regular season. He's the first defenseman in Sharks history with at least 60 assists in a season, and he ranked second among NHL defensemen in short-handed points (five) and was seventh in average ice time (25:06).
Joining Burns as Norris finalists are Calgary's Mark Giordano and Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman. Giordano finished second among NHL defensemen in regular-season scoring with 74 points (17 goals, 57 assists), and led all NHL players with a plus-39 rating. Hedman, the reigning Norris winner, tallied 54 points (12 goals, 42 assists) for the Lightning, who led the NHL with a plus-98 goal differential. Both Calgary and Tampa Bay finished with the best records in their respective conferences, but both were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs in the first round.
The winner will be announced at the 2019 NHL Awards, presented by Bridgestone, at the Mandalay Bay Events Center sports and entertainment complex June 19 in Las Vegas.
Burns already is the only Norris Trophy winner in Sharks franchise history. A second award would be well-deserved but surely isn't at the forefront of his mind with San Jose's must-win Game 6 against the Vegas Golden Knights taking place later Sunday.
Joining Burns in Vegas for the 2019 NHL Awards will be fellow Sharks Joe Thornton and Brenden Dillon.
Thornton is nominated for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the player who, "best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey." Dillon, meanwhile, has been nominated for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, given to the player who "best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community."