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Tough choice, but Chara gets Norris vote

You can make a strong case for dynamic Erik Karlsson, powerful Shea Weber and monstrous Zdeno Chara. Three weeks ago, I was leaning toward voting for Karlsson because his offensive brilliance was historic.

At one point, I believe he was as high as sixth or seventh in NHL scoring. When the season was over, he had 25 more points than any other defensemen. His offensive dominance was overwhelming.

But the trophy is for all-around play and I just couldn’t get past the fact that Karlsson averaged only 33 seconds of short-handed play. I kept coming back to the fact that both Chara and Weber are overwhelming factors on the defensive end. Plus, offensively they are excellent — not at Karlsson’s level — but better than everyone else. They are on the ice in all situations, and they dominate at the defensive end.

The Weber vs. Chara debate is simply a judgment. He had more points, a better plus-minus. This might have been Chara’s best season. Plus, some nights when I have watched Weber, I thought some of his excellence comes from being paired with Ryan Suter.

Rounding out the top five, Alex Pietrangelo deserved a place, but Nicklas Lidstrom has to be in the top five. He’s still the best one-on-one defenseman in the game. Still has the shot. And what a passer. I also wanted to find room for Suter who often gets overlooked. In the end, Pietrangelo didn’t make my list, even though he had a “top five season.”

Here is my official ballot, filed on Wednesday afternoon

Hart Trophy (MVP): 1. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh. 2. Henrik Lundqvist, N.Y. Rangers. 3. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay. 4. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles. 5. Claude Giroux, Philadelphia.

Calder Trophy (rookie): 1. Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado. 2. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton. 3. Carl Hagelin, New York Rangers. 4. Adam Henrique, New Jersey. 5. Matt Read, Philadelphia.

Selke Trophy (defensive forward): 1. Patrice Bergeron, Boston. 2. David Backes, St. Louis. 3. Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit. 4. Jordan Staal, Pittsburgh. 5. Ryan Callahan, Rangers.

Lady Byng (gentlemanly play): 1. Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit. 2. Teemu Selanne, Anaheim. 3. Jordan Eberle, Edmonton. 4. Brian Campbell, Florida. 5. Matt Moulson, New York Islanders.

Norris (defenseman): 1. Chara. 2. Weber. 3. Karlsson. 4. Lidstrom. 5. Suter.

All-rookie team: forwards Nugent-Hopkins, Landeskog and Hagelin; defensemen Jake Gardiner (Toronto) and Slava Voynov (Los Angeles), goalie Jhonas Enroth, Buffalo.

First All-Star team: LW Ilya Kovalchuk (New Jersey), C Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh), RW James Neal (Pittsburgh), Ds Shea Weber (Nashville) and Zdeno Chara (Boston), G Henrik Lundqvist (Rangers).

Second team: LW Ray Whitney (Phoenix), C Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay), RW Marian Hossa (Chicago), Ds Erik Karlsson (Ottawa) and Nicklas Lidstrom, G Jonathan Quick.

Third team: LW Loui Eriksson (Dallas), C Claude Giroux (Philadelphia, RW Marian Gaborik (Rangers), D Alex Pietrangelo (St. Louis), D Ryan Suter (Nashville), G: Mike Smith (Phoenix)

Article source: http://rssfeeds.usatoday.com/~r/UsatodaycomNhl-TopStories/~3/f-wZMwx5L6k/1

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