NHL 2022-23 Preview: Our Best Bets and Picks for the Norris Trophy

NHL 2022-23 Preview: Our Best Bets and Picks for the Norris Trophy article feature image

Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Colorado Avalanche standout Cale Makar.

The bookies have planted their flag. It's Cale Makar versus the field in the race for the Norris Trophy. Makar, 23, won the Norris last season as the NHL's top defenseman and then followed it up with a Conn Smythe performance en route to a Stanley Cup in the spring.

As such, bookmakers have installed Makar as the +125 favorite to win the Norris again in 2022-23.

Can anybody beat him? Here are our favorite bets to upset Makar:

Carol Schram: Thomas Chabot, Ottawa Senators +6700 (BetMGM)

On paper, the Ottawa Senators are arguably the NHL's most improved team. General manager Pierre Dorion added high-end sniper Alex DeBrincat, veteran leader Claude Giroux and steady stopper Cam Talbot to a roster that was already rich with impressive young talent in Brady Tkachuk, Josh Norris, Tim Stutzle and Drake Batherson.

The Senators should score plenty of goals this season. But if they’re going to climb the standings in the tough Atlantic Division, they’re going to need some very heavy lifting from Chabot.

In today’s NHL, skating is critical and that’s Chabot’s top skill. Now 25, Ottawa’s 18th-overall pick from 2015 has grown accustomed to logging huge minutes over his six-year NHL career. Last season, he averaged 26:12 per game, finishing one second behind league leader Seth Jones of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Chabot is four years removed from his best offensive season to date, when he put up 14 goals and 55 points in 2018-19. But a rising tide floats all boats. As the Senators undisputed blue-line leader, Chabot's personal numbers should rise as Ottawa’s power play improves from its 20th-place ranking last season.

The more successful the Senators become, the more they’ll find their way onto TV recaps and social-media highlights. At +6700, Chabot’s a Norris Trophy longshot for sure, but if Ottawa does push for the playoffs, he’ll be a big part of that puzzle — and will earn the corresponding credit for his efforts.

Jonny Lazarus: Quinn Hughes, Vancouver Canucks +2200 (Bet365)

The Vancouver Canucks didn’t have their greatest year last season, but now that head coach Bruce Boudreau is in his first full year, this team should take a stride in a positive direction. Boundreau is known for his offensive style of coaching and that will benefit skilled players like Hughes.

Hughes is one of the best skating defensemen in the National Hockey League. Last season, he finished eighth amongst defensemen with 68 points (8G, 60A) and a +10 rating in 76 games.

Hughes plays in all facets of the game. He can quarterback the power play, kill penalties and everyone knows how effective he is at 5-on-5. The Canucks fell just short of making the playoffs last season, so this year they will come in with a goal of getting into the postseason.

Hughes entered the NHL alongside Adam Fox and Cale Makar after they completed their NCAA careers. Fox and Makar have been the previous two winners of this trophy so perhaps that gives Hughes a little extra boost of motivation. Hughes is just as good of a player as these two and this year could be the season he makes a big jump. I think there is some real value in taking Hughes to win the Norris at +2200.

Tony Sartori: Roman Josi, Nashville Predators +750

While this is certainly Cale Makar’s award to lose, anything can happen in a long season. Josi has a massive advantage over most of the other candidates for this award and that is because he puts up points as if he is a forward.

While I believe the Norris should weigh defensive play evenly — or maybe more strongly than offensive play — that is just not how it works. Using the voters to our benefit, Josi is worth a play at +750.

Putting up 96 points over 80 games last season, Josi finished second in the Norris voting and sixth for the Hart. This scoring outburst was no accident as Nashville ran its entire offense through 59.

When set in the offensive zone, the entire play is designed for Josi to carry the puck into a high-danger area with the weak-side defenseman dropping down. Their rush is also centered around Josi, who carries the puck through the middle of the ice after catching a pass in the neutral zone.

Even their breakout from the defensive zone revolves around the star defenseman, who starts acts as a center if an odd-man rush is available. An invaluable player, his wide-ranging skill set is utilized perfectly in Nashville, which has led to stellar results.

A staple in the Norris trophy conversation, Nashville’s defenseman has finished inside the top-10 in six of the past eight seasons, including his victory in 2019-20. If he puts up big numbers once again, then we will never see this good of a price. Bet it now.

Ryan Dadoun: Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning +950 (BetMGM)

Hedman set career highs last season with 20 goals and 85 points in 82 games, but his success was somewhat overshadowed by the fierce competition he faced for the defenseman scoring title. Ultimately, he finished in third place among blueliners in points and third in Norris Trophy voting.

While he came up a little shy of this prestigious award in 2022, he’s one of the league’s best all-around defenseman and a cornerstone of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He’s also been one of the most reliable defensemen for years, finishing in the top three for the Norris Trophy in six consecutive seasons and winning the trophy in 2018.

Being so steadily near the top of the pack is nothing to sneeze at and Hedman isn’t slowing down yet. He’s right up there with Cale Makar, Roman Josi and Adam Fox as the big contenders for the trophy. Any of those four could end up taking the trophy this season without many labeling it as a major surprise, and ultimately the reason why I went with Hedman is because the return with him is the best of the big four.

As an aside, if you’re looking for a long shot who doesn’t look completely unrealistic to me, Drew Doughty at +8100 on BetMGM gave me pause. He might be a bit overlooked after missing a major chunk of the 2021-22 campaign, but he’s still an elite defenseman who gets leaned on heavily in Los Angeles. Do I think he’s going to win the Norris Trophy? No. But those odds are tempting.

Greg Liodice: Moritz Seider, Detroit Red Wings +2000 (bet365)

The reigning Calder Trophy winner had a heck of a rookie season. Seider has become a force to reckon with at only 21 years old. While laying out beautiful hits and racking up 50 points, it’s safe to say the German phenom has put people on notice.

With Seider being one of the bright spots of this young team, there’s a lot of hope that he can continue his progress of being one of the league’s top defenders. Accumulating 50 points in the NHL is no easy task and doing it as a rookie defenseman makes it even more impressive. Something to admire about Seider’s game is that no situation is too big for him. He will take on the league’s top stars without thinking twice about it.

When looking at the Detroit Red Wings, there’s a ton of promise, especially after they had one of the better offseasons. The Wings were in the playoff hunt up until the All Star break and then things seemed to fall off track. With a year under their belt with this young core, and some experienced veterans to boot, expect the Wings to turn some heads.

It’s a young man’s game these days. The past two Norris winners have been under the age of 25 and there’s no reason to believe the same won’t happen again this year. I think at +2000 odds, picking Seider to win the Norris can be a tantalizing option.

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