Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang is being talked up as a Norris Trophy (top defenseman) contender this season, and rightfully so. Letang is having an awesome 2010-11 by anyone’s standards. The All-Star has 8 goals and 38 assists for a career-best 46 points, which ranks second on the team behind Sidney Crosby. He’s also +10 logging tough minutes, usually against the opposing team’s top line. Letang plays on the PP and kills penalties; he can play an offensive game or a defensive game; and he can play with finesse or with an edge. Quite frankly, this season is Letang’s coming-out party as an elite defenseman.
But is it enough to top Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom? The six-time Norris winner has more goals (13) and more points (51), and…well, he’s Nicklas Lidstrom. The 41-year-old has put together another gem of a season, and his Red Wings are once again at the top of the division. Lidstrom also logs a ton of tough minutes and plays in all situations. If he isn’t still at the top of his game, he’s damn close.
I don’t think it’s a matter of what Letang has or hasn’t done this season. It’s a matter of what Lidstrom has done – and what he’s been able to do since 1991-92. The Norris is practically the Swede’s birthright at this point. The season isn’t over, but it will probably take a monumental effort from Letang (who should definitely be a finalist) the rest of the way to unseat the champ.