At the beginning of the 2014-15 NHL season, all eyes were on P.K. Subban. Would he live up to his massive contract? Some were quick to complain. In particular, one analyst went so far as to claim that Alexei Emelin had a better start to the season. By mid-season, the same person claimed that Subban deserved a 65% grade, which again, is ridiculous. But let's not get caught up in arbitrary grades. Let's throw perception out of the window, and remove emotion from the conversation to get a better look at how good Subban has been so far this year.
As it stands, Subban is poised to make another run at the Norris Trophy, and most would agree that his biggest competition would be front-runner Mark Giordano. By all accounts, Giordano is having a fantastic season. He's playing top notch hockey on an underwhelming Calgary Flames squad, and for the majority of the season he seemed like a lock for the Norris.
The other defenseman that gets a fair amount of mentions as a potential trophy winner is Shea Weber. Weber's inflated +/-, along with his heavy workload and Nashville's current placement in the standings should be enough to earn him some votes, deservedly or not. Truth be told, Drew Doughty probably deserves to be in the conversation, but his name seems to be left out every year.
Let's break down the type of results these three players have produced so far. I restricted the rankings to defensemen with over 1000 minutes during 5-on-5 play.
(numbers sourced from hockeyanalysis.com)
The first thing that should jump out at you is that Weber probably shouldn't be in this conversation. To be fair, Weber does start a silly amount of his shifts in the defensive zone, which does affect his relative Corsi totals.
The analytics give us a sense that this is really a two-horse race between Subban and Giordano.
Both have put up very impressive numbers, with the offensive edge going to Subban. It has to be said that Giordano starts more of his shifts in the defensive zone, which makes his numbers that much more remarkable. What's clear, is that both Giordano and Subban do a fantastic job generating shots.
They rank first and second in terms of league-wide CF%RelTM, indicating that when they're on the ice, Subban and Giordano help their linemates drive possession more than any other defensemen in the league.
Unfortunately, Giordano has recently succumbed to an injury, which puts his trophy hopes in doubt. We're still not sure how serious it is, but early reports are that it's not going to be a quick recovery.
There are still 21 games left to play, and by no means does Montreal's superstar defenseman have a clear inside track, but every single Norris Trophy conversation from here to the end of the season should without a shadow of a doubt include P.K. Subban's name.