Michigan’s Josh Norris was drafted in the first round by the San Jose Sharks. Last summer, he was one of the pieces involved in San Jose’s blockbuster trade that landed them prized defenseman Erik Karlsson. He isn’t the most heralded prospect, especially after his injury, but he brings a lot to the table that any team would love to have in the pipeline.
With the departure of Matt Duchene to the Columbus Blue Jackets via trade a couple months ago, Norris immediately became one of the Senators most important pieces. They’re in year one of what figures to be a lengthy rebuild, but having a guy like Norris to look forward to certainly could speed up that rebuild.
Norris is an elite shooter. He does a great job of breaking down goalies and finding a weak spot in one-on-one situations. His snapshot helps him exploit goalies. He’s a smart shooter that identifies a spot to shoot and has quick enough hands to put the puck in that spot before a goalie can react. He has a terrific one-timer. He excels at finding soft spots in the offensive zone and opening his hips for the one-timer. Norris’ accuracy with the one-timer is something that is incredibly difficult to master and he seems to have got it down pretty well.
He’s also an incredible skater. He uses his edges and body well to create separation in tight spaces. Norris has got the breakaway speed that you dream of in a sniper. His good first step helps him get to pucks quickly, especially in the offensive zone.
Having that mix of shooting and skating makes him a great prospect to play at the professional level.
As a center, your first job is winning the faceoff and securing possession of the puck for your team. As a freshman, Norris led Michigan in faceoff win percentage, winning just north of 56% of his draws. If he can make that one of the best parts of his game, it makes him all the more valuable. You look at a player like Patrice Bergeron who can almost dictate a game with his skill in the faceoff dot. It’s such an important asset to any centerman. If that success in the dot can translate, that’s another major plus for Norris.
Success at faceoffs is absolutely crucial. He’s got to continue to develop that aspect of his game. 56% is good for college. That’ll have to translate to the NHL.
He’s a well-rounded player. He looks up to Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks as a player. I can see the comparison. Norris is a solid two-way player. He is a good passer, a great shooter, and can skate like the wind. If he can stay healthy moving forward, I see a bright future for Norris playing with his good buddy, Brady Tkachuk. That could potentially be one of the best combos in the Eastern Conference.