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Oilers defenceman Evan Bouchard finishes fifth in Norris Trophy voting

Edmonton Oilers Evan Bouchard
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
19 days ago
Evan Bouchard’s breakout campaign has landed him fifth in voting for the James Norris Trophy.
It marks the first time in Bouchard’s career that he’s received votes for the award presented annually “to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.”
Bouchard received one second-place vote, 19 third-place votes, 29 fourth-place votes and 23 fifth-place votes, giving him 212 points in the points allocation system. He finished behind Adam Fox, Cale Makar, Roman Josi and the winner, Quinn Hughes.
There was another Oilers defenceman who received votes, as Bouchard’s defensive partner, Mattias Ekholm finished 12th in voting, receiving two fourth-place votes and nine fifth-place votes.
The last defenceman to receive Norris Trophy votes was Darnell Nurse in 2020-21, finishing seventh in voting. Others in Oilers history were Sheldon Souray (13th, 2009), Chris Pronger (seventh, 2005-06), Boris Mironov (T-16th, 1997-98), Kevin Lowe (eighth, 1988-89 – fifth, 1987-88 – 10th, 1981-82), Paul Coffey (fifth, 1986-87 – first, 1985-86, 1984-85 – second, 1983-84 – fifth, 1982-83 – third, 1981-82), Charlie Huddy (sixth, 1983-84 – sixth, 1982-83), and Risto Siltanen (T-21st, 1980-81).
Bouchard took a huge step forward in his development as a defenceman this season, scoring 18 goals and 82 points in 81 games this season. The start of his season, much like with the Oilers as a whole, saw him go through some struggles, but as the team improved so did his play.
He had an incredible run in the playoffs, scoring six goals, 26 assists and 32 points in 25 games, and much like his teammate Connor McDavid, broke a longstanding assist record. Bouchard passed Paul Coffey as the all-time leader in assists in a single postseason, passing his coach’s record of 25.
While one of the biggest knocks on Bouchard’s game over the last number of years has been his defensive play, but that was an area he took big strides in. It could be seen in the playoffs where he displayed confidence in front of his own net, being able to clear opposing players and tie up sticks, but his biggest strength there continues to be his ability to move the puck up the ice.
According to hockeyviz.com, Bouchard contributed both offence and defence at a six percent rate above league average, putting him well above the contributions of a first-pairing defenceman. His defensive contributions are a noticeable improvement from his rate in 2022-23, of one percent above league average.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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