Niklas Kronwall, age 33, has cemented himself as the Wings' best defenseman since Nick Lidström.
Despite his high-profile hits, Kronwall's impact is, much like Lidström's, not as discussed as the impacts of other Wings' players.
Since debuting for the Wings in the '03-'04 season, Kronwall has steadily grown into a proven leader and player on the team. Along with his growth in the Wings' organization, Kronwall has become one of the best defenseman in the NHL.
Every year, the Norris Trophy is awarded to the best defenseman in the league. Which leads me to the topic of this article, does Niklas Kronwall have a shot at the Norris Trophy?
Let's start out with some stats.
Kronwall is only one of four Red Wings to have played at least 60 out of the Wings' 65 games this season, with 63 games under his belt. The other three players are Abdelkader (60 games), Quincey (65 games), and Miller (65 games).
Kronwall is 10th in the NHL in points with 40 points.
Kronwall is 6th in the NHL in assists with 33 assists.
Kronwall is 10th in the NHL in power play points with 19 points.
Kronwall is 7th in the NHL in shifts per game with 31.2 shifts.
Based on these stats alone, Kronwall's name should at least be up for consideration. However, there are also some cons to Nik's game. Kronwall has a meager -1 plus/minus rating, and is often penalized.
That said, Kronwall is statistically on pace to having one of his best seasons.
He’s the go-to defenseman for the Red Wings and makes opposing forwards keep their heads up because you never know when one of his patented bone-crunching hits will fall. He’s also remarkably consistent: he has the exact same goal and assist totals through 46 games this season as he had through 48 games last.
The one word from this excerpt that really sticks out to me is "consistent". Honestly, find me a more consistent Red Wings player than Niklas Kronwall. Unless we're talking about a consistent penalty taker (sit down Smith), you won't find anyone.
As I mentioned before, Kronwall is one of the Wings' best leaders, and without either Datsyuk or Zetterberg active at the moment, you have to imagine that his leadership role has grown tremendously.
Also, Kronwall is arguably the Wings MVP at this point. What he brings to the team out-values what any other Wing has done this season, except for Zetterberg.
I believe that Kronwall is a sleeper pick for the trophy. If he can continue to play the way that he has been playing, he has a chance at being nominated for the award.
With all of this in mind, does Kronwall have a legitimate shot at the trophy? Probably not. At this point it seems as if Erik Karlsson should just have it handed to him, and considering the fact that he is coming off a severe injury, he will probably win it.
Going forward, Kronwall should remain a constant dark horse candidate for the trophy. Remember, Niklas Lidström didn't win his first Norris Trophy until he was 31 years old, so anything is possible.
What are your thoughts? Does Kronwall have a shot at the Norris?
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