All Cale Makar has done since the start of the season is separate himself from the rest of the defensemen in the league. A slow start impacted his odds slightly, but otherwise, he’s the runaway favorite for the Norris Trophy as we head into the stretch drive. Still, hockey is a chaotic game, and anything can happen between now and the end of the season. With that in mind, there are a few defensemen who can skate with Makar and are worth considering expanding your futures portfolio for.
Top 10 Odds for Norris Trophy Award Winner
- Cale Makar -125 (Previously +175)
- Victor Hedman +350 (Previously +400)
- Adam Fox +550 (Previously +450)
- Roman Josi +1500 (Previously +1500)
- Aaron Ekblad +2000 (Previously +1300)
- Devon Toews +2000 (Previously +2600)
- John Carlson +2200 (Previously +1900)
- Charlie McAvoy +3100 (Previously +3100)
- Quinn Hughes +3100 (Previously +3100)
- Miro Heiskanen +3100 (Previously +3100)
Players Who Have Fallen Out of the Top 10
Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche (-125)
Irrespective of the category, Makar is likely atop the leader board. The third-year rearguard leads defensemen in traditional stats, pacing the league in scoring, goals, and powerplay time. Analytically, he ranks as the best in Corsi rating, shots-for percentage, scoring-chance percentage, and expected goals-for percentage. What’s scary about Makar is his proficiency on both ends of the ice. Not only are his relative metrics solid, but he ranks near the top of the absolute columns too. Makar has been on the ice for the second-most scoring and fourth-most high-danger chances, with fewer chances against, in both categories relative to those with comparable offensive metrics. That’s how Makar separates himself from the pack, making him the betting chalk heading into March.
Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning (+350)
As a team, the Tampa Bay Lightning have been incredibly consistent over the past few seasons and that’s analogous to Victor Hedman’s time on the blue line. Somehow, Hedman has found another level, elevating his play above his career-best marks. The Swedish defender has 51 points through 51 games, putting him on pace for the best point total of his career, previously set at 72 points. That dominance is also reflected in Hedman’s advanced metrics as he’s on pace for the best expected goals-for rating, currently sitting at 58.9%, above his previous high of 56.4%. The only thing getting between Hedman and his second Norris Trophy is Makar.
Adam Fox, New York Rangers (+550)
Duplicating awards in consecutive seasons isn’t an easy feat. The award acknowledges that you were the best in your class and few have the skills to win a trophy year after year. That’s what happened with Adam Fox if he were to repeat, however, Fox’s metrics have taken a hit after setting the world on fire last season. The reigning Norris Trophy winner is on track for the worst campaign of his career, with his possession and production metrics below season averages. However, when your worst analytics season still has you positioned with the third-best futures odds, there isn’t much to worry about. The cards were stacked against Fox this season and he has been unable to reach the bar he set for himself a year ago. The stars will have to align just right for him to repeat as the best defenseman but stranger things have happened.
Roman Josi, Nashville Predators (+550)
One defenseman’s position in the betting market doesn’t accurately reflect the climb he’s made over his recent performances. Roman Josi has rocketed up the scoring leaderboard, recording 23 points over his past 19 games, and he has the advanced metrics supporting sustained production. The Swiss-born defenseman is on pace for his best scoring chance-for ratio of his career and is within reach of his benchmark in shots-for percentage. The Nashville Predators have embraced Josi’s offensive upside and give him more starts than ever in the attacking zone (66.0%). Norris Trophy winners must straddle elite offensive production and responsible defensive zone play. Josi has shown that he can do that better than just about anybody else in the league. If he maintains his current pace to end the season, he can close the gap on Makar and the rest of the frontrunners.
Miro Heiskanen, Dallas Stars (+3100)
If there’s one player in the top 10 who hasn’t reached his potential yet this season, it’s Miro Heiskanen. The Dallas Stars blueliner has put together some gaudy advanced metrics but remains below expected values. Among d-men who have played at least 350 minutes, the Finnish defender has the 14th-rated expected goals-for percentage, whereas his actual rating ranks 66th. Similarly, Heiskanen has been on the ice for 59 goals this season, below his expected value is 67.6. There is room for growth for Heiskanen and if he catches fire to end the season, he could see his price in the futures market improve significantly.
All NHL predictions and picks are courtesy of SportsGrid.