DENVER – Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar was named Wednesday as one of three finalists for the James Norris Memorial Trophy – awarded to the league’s top defensemen with the “greatest all-around ability.”
The 22-year-old Makar, in his second NHL season, was named a finalist alongside the New York Rangers’ Adam Fox and Tampa Bay Lightning’s Victor Hedman.
Makar won the Calder Memorial Trophy last year, which is given to the top NHL rookie every year. He was ninth in voting for the Norris Trophy.
Despite missing one-fifth of Colorado’s games this year, Makar finished with eight goals, 36 assists and 44 points in 44 games played. It was the second time in Avalanche and Nordiques history a defenseman averaged a point per game.
If Makar wins the award, he would be the first player in franchise history to do so. Rob Blake finished third for the award in the 2001-02 season; Ray Bourque finished second in 2000-01; and Sandis Ozolinsh finished third in the 1996-97 season. He would also be the second defenseman in league history, along with Bobby Orr, to win the award in his second season.
Fox and Hedman could have a leg up on Makar because they missed fewer games this season, with Fox playing in 55 and Hedman appearing in 54. Fox led defensemen in assists and was second in points, while Hedman finished third in points among defenseman and ranked second among all NHL players in power-play assists.
The NHL is expected to announce the three finalists for the Hart Memorial Trophy – essentially the league MVP – on Thursday, and Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon could potentially be among them, though Edmonton’s Connor McDavid is the favorite to win this year.
Avalanche goalie Philipp Grubauer was named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, the NHL’s top goaltender, on June 1.
The NHL is expected to announce the winners of the league’s awards during the Stanley Cup semifinals and finals.
The Avalanche’s overtime loss to Vegas Tuesday night puts them in a 3-2 hole in the series headed back to Nevada.