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Bruins’ Charlie McAvoy a Dark Horse Candidate for Norris Trophy

Bobby Orr

The Boston Bruins have a long tradition of dominant defensemen. Eddie Shore started the tradition during the team’s infancy as an Original Six club. Bobby Orr was next on the list, not only carrying the Bruins to Stanley Cups, but completely reinventing the game for defensemen with his offensive proficiency. Following Orr, Ray Bourque took up the mantle, leading the Bruins from the late ’80s until 2000 and climbing to fourth all-time in assists. Zdeno Chara, the most imposing defensemen in Bruins’ history followed Bourque. He captured a Norris Trophy in 2009 and is one of the key figures in the culture change that ultimately led to the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup. Each of these defensemen has one thing in common, league hardware confirming their status. 

BOSTON, MA – MAY 10: Bobby Orr #4 of the Boston Bruins flies through the air after sliding the puck past goalie Glenn Hall and tripped by Noel Picard of the St. Louis Blues as Orr scored the game winning overtime goal during Game 4 of the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals on May 10, 1970 at the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeated the Blues 4-3 and won the series 4-0. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Next in line for this title is Charlie McAvoy. The 2016 first-round pick has firmly established himself as one the league’s top shutdown defensemen. While he has not yet won a league award, he is well on his way. This season he is a dark horse to sneak into the Norris Trophy conversation. 

Norris Trophy Criteria

Before addressing McAvoy’s case, it is important to understand what the Norris Trophy represents. According to NHL.com, “The James Norris Memorial Trophy is an annual award given ‘to the defensive player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.’” That last part is what is key, great all-round ability. In some recent years, the Norris has gone to the defenseman who has produced the greatest offensive stat line. That is all well and good, offensive numbers are generally easier to sort out than defensive impact, but that methodology misses the essence of the award. To win the Norris you must be dominant in all facets of the game, not just the offensive zone. 

Related: 2022-23 Norris Trophy Tracker


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This distinction is what is most important to McAvoy’s candidacy. While players like Erik Karlsson can have their goals and assists jump off the page, defensively he is still leaving much to be…

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