Thu Apr 26

WHL graduates Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators and Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins are among the three finalists for the Norris trophy, presented annually to the NHL’s top defenceman.

Weber, a former member of the Kelowna Rockets, earned his second straight nomination for the award, having been runner-up to Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom in 2011.  The 26-year-old from Sicamous, B.C., scored a career-high 19 goals, tying him for the NHL lead among defencemen, and added 30 assists for a career-best 49 points.  Weber’s 10 power play goals were tops among NHL rearguards, and helped the Predators own the best power play in the League. 

As good as Weber is offensively, his defensive game and physical presence are well-respected.  Boasting a 6’4”, 232-lb frame, Weber doled out 177 hits and blocked 140 shots.  His 51 takeaways were the second-most among NHL defencemen.

Weber played three seasons for the Kelowna Rockets, netting 26 goals and 91 points in 190 career regular-season games.  He helped lead the Rockets to a pair of WHL Championships in 2003 and 2005, and a Memorial Cup in 2004.

Chara, a graduate of the Prince George Cougars, earned his fifth nomination for the Norris trophy, have won the award in 2009 with the Bruins.  The 35-year-old from Trencin, Slovakia, enjoyed his best offensive campaign, posting 12 goals and a career-best 52 points in 72 games for the Bruins, and finished third among all NHL players with a +33 rating. 

At 6’9”, 255-lbs, Chara is an imposing figure in the defensive zone as well.  The former New York Islander and Ottawa Senator led the Bruins with 166 hits this season.

Chara spent one season in the WHL with the Cougars, scoring three goals and 22 points in 49 games during the 1996-97 campaign.

Weber and Chara join Ottawa Senators’ rearguard Erik Karlsson as the three finalists for the 2012 Norris trophy.  They also join several WHL grads nominated for NHL awards this year including former Red Deer Rebel Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who is nominated for the Calder trophy as the NHL’s top rookie for the Edmonton Oilers, former Regina Pat Jordan Eberle, nominated for the Lady Bing trophy for the Edmonton Oilers, and former Medicine Hat Tiger Joffrey Lupul, who is up for the Masterton trophy with the Toronto Maple Leafs.