Capitals

John Carlson is runner-up in Norris Trophy voting for NHL's top defenseman

Capitals

John Carlson's hopes for a second Stanley Cup were dashed in August and his quest for his first Norris Trophy has fallen short as well.

Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi beat out Carlson for the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman for the 2019-20 season, the league announced Monday. Rod Langway remains the only Capitals player to win the Norris Trophy, which he won in 1982-83 and 1983-84.

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman was also a finalist, but really the Norris was a two-horse race between Carlson and Josi as the voting indicated. Josi took first on 109 ballots from the Professional Hockey Writers Association. Carlson was first on 56. Josi had 1,499 voting points while Carlson had 1,267. 

For much of the season, Carlson was on pace to hit 100 points. Though he slowed from that pace, he still led the league's defensemen with 75 points -- 10 more than Josi -- and was on track for 89 before the season was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.

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Had he reached 89 points, he would have been only the tenth blueliner ever to hit that mark and the first to reach at least 85 points in a season since 1995-96. His 1.09 points per game are the best for a defenseman since 1993-94.

It looked as if Carlson would run away with the Norris early in the season. Washington was rolling in the standings and Carlson was scoring at an incredible rate.

 
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As the season went along and the team's play deteriorated, however, Josi made a big push. Defensively, Josi was overall the better player and Nashville's MVP. Josi carried the Predators for much of the season and had them in a position where they were included in the postseason when the NHL was forced to pause the regular season in March. Without him, Nashville may well have fallen out of that group of playoff-contending teams completely. He was that important to the Predators.

While both Josi and Carlson had tremendous seasons, the argument really boiled down to whether Carlson's historic offensive numbers would be enough to lift him over Josi's defensive season and, according to the voters, they did not.