Pietrangelo, Quick deserve awards

Statistical reality argues for controversial award picks

Updated: April 4, 2012, 2:46 PM ET
By Neil Greenberg | ESPN Insider
Alex PietrangeloBill Smith/NHLI via Getty ImagesAlex Pietrangelo (right) has kept NHL scoring stars like the Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews in check.

With the regular season winding down, it is time to hand out some hardware. Some of the awards are easy. The Richard Trophy goes to the player who scores the most goals (Steven Stamkos) while the Art Ross goes to the player who accumulates the most points (Evgeni Malkin).

There are others, however, that require a broader view and a deeper look, and that's where an advanced statistical lens reveals some very interesting winners. Start with the James Norris Memorial Trophy, awarded to the top "defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position."

The short list for Norris caliber defensemen has four names on it: Erik Karlsson of Ottawa, Shea Weber of Nashville, Zdeno Chara of Boston and Nicklas Lidstrom of Detroit.

The Ottawa blueliner is tied for 10th in the NHL in scoring and has 25 more points than the next-best defensemen, Boston Bruins D-man Chara and Florida Panthers D-man Brian Campbell. Weber has been stellar for Nashville at both ends of the ice, is sixth in the league among defensemen with 49 points and also fifth in time on ice at 26:18 per contest. Chara, who won the Norris Trophy in 2009, is simply one of the best at shutting down the opposition's top players while playing for a Cup-contending team, and Lidstrom has only been voted the league's best defenseman seven out of the past 10 years.

So, despite all that, does St. Louis Blues blueliner Alex Pietrangelo deserve the Norris over those four heavyweights? Absolutely he does.

Neil Greenberg is ESPN Insider's NHL analytics expert. His columns have appeared on the Washington Post website, and he is a regular guest on Sirius XM NHL Radio.