7 Day Trial for $1/Day

NHL Futures: 2021 Norris Trophy Odds and Picks

As the NHL's regular season draws to a close, it is indeed time to start talking about some of the year-end awards, as they are voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

You'll see as we discuss it that Victor Hedman, star defenseman of the Tampa Bay Lightning (priced at +550 to win the Stanley Cup) is the clear favorite to win the Norris Trophy, given to the player judged to be the overall best at his position.

Don't get us wrong; the price on Hedman is not exactly prohibitive. But we're here to tell you that there is another way to go, and if you want to get a nice payoff, it could be worth a small wager.

Okay, it's time for us to explain.

Odds To Win The 2021 Norris Trophy

VIctor Hedman -145

Adam Fox +450

Cale Makar +900

Charlie McAvoy +1000

John Carlson +1000

Jeff Petry +1800

Drew Doughty +1800

Shea Theodore +1800

Darnell Nurse +2000

Samuel Girard +4000

Morgan Rielly +5000

Dougie Hamilton +5000

Quinn Hughes +6000

Aaron Ekblad +8000

There is a certain degree of controversy to digest here.

The argument - and a heated one - takes place between Hedman's critics and the advocates for Fox, and it revolves around the proposition that Hedman, who won the Norris in 2018, might win this on reputation.

There is actually some evidence to support that notion. As an article in the Washington Post has just pointed out, the Tampa Bay Lightning's goal share at even strength with Hedman is in the ice is 54%, compared with 61% for Fox, and for that matter, Colorado's Cale Makar. Both Fox and Makar have a plus +14 differential when they're put there.

Furthermore, Hedman's overall plus-minus figure of +7 pales in comparison with Fox's +21. And Fox is every bit the factor in special teams situations that Hedman is, if not more.

Fox, we might add, is also the highest point-scorer among NHL defensemen.

The problem that folks hold against him is that he is not playing for a team (the New York Rangers) that is likely going to the playoffs.

But maybe you want to consider that the Rangers are in a division (the East) that may be the most competitive in the NHL. So maybe, just maybe, you don't want to hold his team's non-playoff status against him.

But while we're at it, let's talk about team performance.

And that brings us to the candidacy of Shea Theodore, who is priced at +1800. His team, the Vegas Golden Knights, has the second highest percentage of High Danger Scoring Chances in their favor. The team is also fourth in expected goal differential (all this in 5v5 situations).

In fact, it is the defensive corps that has enabled Marc-Andre Fleury to be one of the top Vezina Trophy candidates.

And the kicker is that according to metrics compiled by the website FiveThirtyEight, Theodore's "Goals Above Replacement" figure is the best among NHL defensemen, although it's close. He is also first in "Point Shares," a metric that is presented at HockeyReference.com.

Makar, who won the Calder Trophy last season, leads a Colorado defense that contributes to the Avs being #1 in both percentage of High Danger Scoring Chances and expected goal differential.

Taking a much closer look at these numbers could give sports bettors at least a few Norris Trophy candidates that may have more real-world viability than Hedman.

And you also have to think about the fact that in this day and age, analytics have become a much more prominent component of the vocabulary of hockey writers.

They read them they follow them, and they have become accustomed to mentioning them when they write about the games. So what we've been talking about here is not a deep, dark secret to them.

For that reason, it shouldn't be any surprise if Fox gets ample consideration, and to a lesser degree, Theodore or Makar.

If the hockey writers are anything like the baseball writers, they don't mind handing out an award to someone with a non-playoff team, taking all the factors into account. Just look what they've done with Mike Trout (and Jacob deGrom, for that matter).

They may find themselves open to voting for a guy like Fox.

About the Author

Charles Jay is unlike most analysts associated with handicapping and the gaming industry, in that he also has had extensive experience in the so-called "mainstream" media as well.

He has been involved with professional sports industry for almost two decades, working in all capacities, as a matchmaker, booking agent, manager, and also as an editorial consultant on USA Network's "Tuesday Night Fights," which, for a time, carried "Charles Jay's Line" on upcoming fights. As a broadcaster, he has called world title fights around the world for various outlets, and has served as a color commentator for Sunshine Network and Prime Network.

His radio experience includes being the host of numerous programs, including "Sportswatch with Charles Jay" on KDWN in Las Vegas, "Total Action" on WAXY 790 in Miami, and "Charles Jay's Winning Edge", syndicated into 55 markets by the American Radio Networks, and he's done podcasts on all subjects related to sports, gaming and popular culture.

Working within the casino industry, he has a special events consultant for Casino Magic in Mississippi, as that venue established itself in the early 1990s as a hotbed of boxing activity in particular. Prior to this, he had been engaged as a casino gaming columnist for, among others, Casino Player, Card Player and Sports Form (now known as Gaming Today), specializing in blackjack. And later on, his investigative series on boxing, entitled "Operation Cleanup," won him much critical acclaim, including the 2003 "Dignity" Award, in the category of "Best Sports Writer," as bestowed by the Retired Boxers Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to rendering assistance to ex-fighters in need.

In 2006 he established a content services division of his company, which has eventually evolved in JayWords, and he is arguably the world's most prolific sports & gaming writer, with over 20,000 articles to his credit, the vast majority of which have been sports handicapping pieces. So you might say he has analyzed as many sporting events as anyone alive during this period. He has also brought some interest with his so-called "gimmick" odds on special events, including the Academy Awards, the NFL Draft, and the Super Bowl, for which he posted dozens and dozens of different odds propositions with various sportsbooks.

This renaissance man is a winner of the Retired Boxers Foundation's "Dignity Award" and a member of the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame; graduate of the University of Miami (Florida) who currently resides in the South Florida area.