Boston's Zdeno Chara, Ottawa's Erik Karlsson and Shea Weber of Nashville have been named the finalists for the James Norris Memorial Trophy, which is presented to the NHL's top defenseman.
Chara is a Norris finalist for the fourth time in the past five seasons, having previously captured the honor in 2009. He led all defensemen and tied for third overall with a plus-33 rating.
In addition, the veteran recorded a career-high 52 points with 12 goals and 40 assists to rank fourth among defensemen in scoring. He helped the Bruins, just eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs on Wednesday, to their third Northeast Division title in the past four seasons.
Karlsson led all defensemen in scoring with 78 points, posting 19 goals and 59 assists in 81 games. He registered 25 points more than the second-leading scorer among blueliners, the widest margin since Pittsburgh's Paul Coffey had a 38-point differential in 1988-89.
The 21-year-old helped Ottawa to the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. He posted a plus-16 rating and became the youngest defenseman with at least 78 points since Coffey scored 96 with Edmonton in 1982-83.
Weber tied Karlsson for most goals by a defenseman with 19 and his 49 points ranked him sixth among rearguards. He was at his best on the power play, leading all defensemen with 10 goals on the man-advantage, and posted a career-best plus-21 rating.
A finalist for the second consecutive season, Weber finished as the runner-up last year to Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom. He helped the Predators to their seventh playoff appearance in the past eight seasons.
The winner will be announced during the 2012 NHL Awards program on June 20 in Las Vegas.