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SAN JOSE — Brent Burns on Friday was once again named a finalist for the Norris Trophy, the award given annually to the defenseman who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.
There are ample reasons to believe Burns will become the first Sharks defenseman to win the award, which will be presented June 21 at the 2017 NHL Awards in Las Vegas.
Burns, 32, bettered his own franchise records for goals and points by a defenseman for the second consecutive year, finishing the regular season with 29 goals and 76 points.
Burns led all NHL defensemen in both categories, and became the first player of his position to record back-to-back 75-point seasons since Brian Leetch did the same with the New York Rangers in 1995-96 and 1996-97.
Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson and Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman are the other finalists. Karlsson is a two-time winner of the award. This is the first time Hedman has been named a finalist.
Burns was also a finalist for the Norris Trophy last season when he first established new team records for goals (27) and points (75) in a season by a defenseman. Burns finished third in the voting. Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings won the award and Karlsson, the other finalist, was second.
Voting for the Norris Trophy is done by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
Burns’ 29 goals were 12 more than any other league defenseman this season and his 21 even-strength goals were the most by a blueliner since the Sharks’ Sandis Ozolinsh had 22 in 1993-94. He also finished this regular season with 320 shots on goal, the most for any player regardless of position.
This season, Hedman set career highs in goals (16), assists (56), points (72), games (79), game-winning goals (five), average time on ice per game (24:30) and blocked shots (132).
Karlsson finished the season with 71 points and became just the second defenseman in league history to lead his team in scoring in four straight seasons after New York Islanders’ Denis Potvin did it from 1973-74 to 1976-77, . He also ranked second in the NHL in blocked shots (201) and fourth in average ice time per game (26:50).
The Sharks host the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday in Game 6 of their first round playoff series. The Sharks, down three games to two, need a win to send the series back to Edmonton for a seventh and deciding game on Monday.