Why Mark Giordano Should Still be in the Norris Conversation

Last year Flames captain Mark Giordano entered the conversation as one of the league’s premier defenders. Missing 18 games due to injury and being relatively new to the “best defenseman in the game” conversation limited his chances of serious Norris consideration, however. 

This year Giordano picked up where he left off, rapidly proving to be the Flames best player while leading the league’s defenders in scoring. He was perhaps the leading candidate to take home the Norris trophy until a torn bicep ended his season at 62 games. 

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The injury has seemingly taken Giordano out of the conversation, but it shouldn’t – he’s been one the league’s best blueliners for 2 years running. 

Giordano has played 125 games since the start of 2013. Over those games, he’s scored 25 goals and 95 points (or a 0.76 point-per-game pace) which projects to 62 points over a full season. Of his peers, only Erik Karlsson has scored at a better pace over the same time frame. 

Of course, offense isn’t the only element in judging the league’s best defenders. Giordano has also played some of the toughest minutes in the NHL since 2013 and had perhaps the best relative influence on possession amongst Norris candidates. Via War on ice.com:


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The table shows results from 2013-2015. The further left a player, the more often he starts in the defensive zone vs the offensive zone. The further up the chart, the tougher his level competition. The darker blue the players’ bubble, the better relative corsi (possession) rate.

As you can see, no Norris candidate in the NHL has started more often in the defensive end than Giordano over the last two seasons. In addition, he’s consistently driven play despite his tough minutes, in fact boasting the best relative possession rate of any of the guys in question. On top of all of that, Only Zdeno Chara and Shea Weber have faced tougher opposition (once out of the two seasons in question each).  


These are unquestioningly elite results and they’ve persisted over the last one hundred and twenty games. If a bulk of them had happened consecutively over a singular 82-game schedule, instead of interrupted by a summer and some trips to the infirmary, there’s no question Giordano would be on the top of a lot of ballots.

  • beloch

    The Norris isn’t awarded by fans, players or coaches. It’s the pro hockey writers who vote on it. While these guys aren’t all idiots, they do have a notable ulterior motive: selling copy. Giving the Norris to a guy nobody’s seen on their TV’s in two months, and who’s from a Western market to boot, doesn’t sell a lot of copy. Giordano is from Toronto, but by the time the Norris is announced Torontonians will be too busy moaning about the Jays and Raptors to notice hockey.

    Here’s hoping Giordano comes back fully healed and plays a full season after the summer. If he’s still in the act of dominating the league when the Norris is awarded he’ll have a shot. The fact that he should have won it this season will make his case harder to ignore next season.

  • Christian Roatis

    Giordano will shock the universe, and return for the playoffs, if the Flames make it.

    Just because he’s giordano. The league’s greatest captain.

  • Christian Roatis

    Agree on all points. I wonder how much durability over the course of an 82 game season is taken into account, because that’s what will make or break him.

  • Christian Roatis

    Couple of thoughts:

    1. No other player on that list needs to carry the team on his back like Gio does. Even with a great partner in Brodie, it’s Gio that leads the way and mentors the young d-man. And there is nobody else on the Flames that can take on those tough minutes.
    2. I love the consistency in Gio’s game. Offence, defence, blocked shots, hits, and fights. He does it all. And most importantly, provides premier leadership and heart.
    3. Karlsson may be the most overrated defenceman of the “elite” positional players. Yes, he has offensive talent but in his own end (especially in the corners and in front), he is a disaster. Every Ottawa game I watch he gets out muscled and is a turnover machine. Classic case of reporters looking at the boxscore and missing the finer points of the game.
    4. Go Gio.

  • RexLibris

    There’s been a little bit of buzz lately about why Doughty doesn’t get any consideration and the usual excuses of time zones and such come up.

    Giordano would have to beat out Doughty to get consideration, in my opinion, and based on past history with the PHWA I’m not convinced that will happen.

    They work on name recognition and convenient memory. Poll them and they’ll say Doughty is twice the better defender and cite cup wins, time on ice, and so on.

    The graph shown and any numbers applied would likely spur a response such as “if you have to look that hard to try and prove that he’s better then it must not be true”.

    Giordano deserves consideration for the award. It really is unfortunate that the injury likely removes that possibility.

  • Gio was mentioned as an after thought when talking about candidates before his injury. He was in the conversation but only sort of thrown in from what I saw. It was great that he was even in the conversation but you could tell that the big guns of Webber, Doughty, Subban, Keith, Karlsson were being considered more of favorites than Gio. It’s a shame for sure.

    Now that he is injured I think his chances went from slim to none.

  • Christian Roatis

    Though experiment. If Giordano remained healthy and tied with Subban for the scoring lead, would the votes be somewhat evenly split? Or would there be an eastern bias?

  • RKD

    The shame is that the NHL guys look at Eastern teams more, they don’t get a chance to watch the Western guys as much. A lot of times they look at the point totals. Gio is so much more, this guys is the total package defensively and offensively which is very rare to find because a lot of offensive guys are poor defensively like Subban and Karlsson. Guys like Doughty and Weber are shutdown specialists. If Gio does it all, he should be the winner hands down. Maybe I am biased but really Mark has elevated his play to level very few d-men could ever reach in their entire career.