The Norris Trophy race between Quinn Hughes and Cale Makar is no longer close: Canucks Conversation

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Clarke Corsan
1 month ago
On yesterday’s episode of Canucks Conversation, David Quadrelli and Harman Dayal discussed the ongoing Norris Trophy debate between Quinn Hughes and Cale Makar. With Hughes’ dominant finish to the season, the guys believe it’s his award to lose.
“Last night, Hughes was phenomenal, and he’s heating up at the right time,” said Quads. “Obviously, this matters in the context of the Canucks and their season, but also… There are a lot of voters who are going to look at game logs. They may not watch every game Hughes plays and they’ll ask, ‘how did these guys finish their season?’ I don’t think you can say Quinn Hughes just had a hot start, especially when he’s got three goals in his last two games.”
“I don’t even think this is a race at this point,” Harm continued. “Any answer other than Quinn Hughes as number one for Norris this season is wrong, and it’s not close. It’s not just about the analytics; I can’t think of an area where Makar has been better than Hughes. Hughes has more points, but defensively is where he really separates himself from Makar.”
To illustrate his point, Harm brought up key statistics: Among 226 NHL defencemen who have played at least 400 5-on-5 minutes this year, Makar ranks 186th in surrendering 3 goals against per hour.
“[Makar] is getting lit up defensively, and keep in mind he’s glued to Nathan MacKinnon, who’s going to finish top three in Hart Trophy voting. Even with that, the Avs – in Makar’s minutes – are still only plus six at five-on-five. Compare that to Hughes, whose pure defensive impact puts him among the top defencemen this year. Ignoring the point production, Hughes defensively has been one of the top blueliners in the NHL this season.”
“Makar has more goals, you give him that, but Hughes has been the better play driver with his all-around impact,” said Harm. “Put it this way: Makar hasn’t been the best player on his own team. MacKinnon has by far been the engine of that Avs team, but Hughes is to the Canucks what MacKinnon is to the Avs this year.”
Hughes currently has 16 goals and 86 points through 76 games with a plus-minus of +39. Makar has 19 goals and 81 points through 70 games with a plus-minus of +13.
“If you asked NHL GMs which defenceman they’d start a franchise with, a lot of them would say Cale Makar, and I wouldn’t blame them at all,” Harm said. “He’s a right-handed defenceman, he’s won a Conn Smythe, and based on his track record before the season, Makar has been the better defenceman than Hughes; we’re all willing to admit that. But the Norris Trophy is just looking at this year – and this year, Quinn Hughes’ impact has been far superior to Makar’s.”
You can watch the full replay of yesterday’s show below:

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