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Shea Weber nominated for Norris Trophy

One of the best goaltenders in the world, Pekka Rinne, missed over four months due to an E. coli infection in his surgically repaired hip, they missed the playoffs for the second straight year and they parted ways with the only head coach the franchise has ever known.

In short, this is not a season the Nashville Predators will rave about.

Today, however, they got some great news. Captain Shea Weber was named one of the three finalists for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman.

Some thought the national media would overlook Weber because not only does he play in a non-traditional market like Nashville but his club failed to make the post season. But then, when TSN’s Bob McKenzie tweeted out his ballot a couple weeks ago, things looked promising.

This is Weber’s third Norris nomination. He was the runner-up to Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom in 2011 and then to Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson in 2012. It could be argued that Weber should have won the award each of those two seasons. In 2011, it was thought that Lidstrom would be retiring and one has to wonder if sympathy played a part in the voting (he did, after all, register a minus-rating for the first time in his career). Then, a season later, Karlsson hoisted the hardware on the Las Vegas stage thanks to his offensive numbers, not his all-around play.

So, since voters want to talk about offensive numbers, let’s do that. Nashville’s second round pick in 2003 had himself a career year. His 56 points and 33 assists were career highs and, if Craig Smith hadn’t found the back of the net twice on the final day of the season, his 23 goals would have led the club. Weber was third among all defensemen in scoring, fourth among all NHL skaters in ice time (avg. 26:54) and became the first player in nine years to record 20+ goals, 150+ hits (169) and 150+ blocked shots (173) in a single season. Additionally, he led all NHL blueliners in power play goals (12) and was one of just three defensemen to lead his team in scoring (Karlsson in Ottawa and Keith Yandle in Phoenix were the others).

Away from the stat sheet, Weber helped transition 23-year old Roman Josi to a full-time, top-pairing NHL defenseman and even partnered with Rinne and the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt to form the 365 Pediatric Cancer Fund.

Boston’s Zdeno Chara and Chicago’s Duncan Keith are also nominated. Chara won the award in 2009 while Keith got the honor in 2010.

The 2014 NHL Awards will take place on Tuesday, June 24 at the Encore at Wynn in Las Vegas, Nevada.

PHOTO CREDIT: Sarah Fuqua (used with permission)