The NHL announced the finalists for the Selke Trophy on Wednesday, as centers Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins, Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks will contend for the award given "to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game," as voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association.
The Selke Trophy is ripe for application of advanced stats, which would then lead to off the radar choice like Boyd Gordon of the Phoenix Coyotes for example. Alas, it still seems like the "Best faceoff guy" and "Most takeaways" award these days.
Also, wingers can't win. Ever. Sorry Marian Hossa.
Who wins the Selke?
Why Patrice Bergeron Deserves The Selke
What the NHL says:
Bergeron was the NHL's top face-off man in 2012-13, winning 62.1% of his draws, as the Bruins ranked third League-wide in team defense (2.21 goals-against per game). He ranked sixth overall and led the Bruins in plus-minus with a +24 rating and played an average of 2:12 per game with his team shorthanded, slightly more than his per-game average on the Boston power-play (2:10). Bergeron is in quest of a repeat Selke win, having claimed the trophy last season in his first appearance as a finalist.
He can get overshadowed by Zdeno Chara – hell, the Chrysler Building can get overshadowed by Chara – but Bergeron’s status as the best faceoff man in the NHL and a vital part of the Bruins’ shutdown unit cements him as an annual contender.
Why Pavel Datsyuk Deserves The Selke
What the NHL says:
Datsyuk's all-around game helped the Red Wings place fifth in the NHL in team defense (2.29 goals-against per game) -- their stingiest performance since the 2007-08 Stanley Cup championship season. Datsyuk tied for the League lead in takeaways (56), topped the Red Wings in plus-minus (+21) and posted a 55.0% face-off winning percentage (488-399). The three-time Selke winner is a finalist for the sixth consecutive year, surpassing the streaks of Montreal's Guy Carbonneau (1986 through 1990) and Bob Gainey (1978 through 1982) as the longest since the award was introduced in 1978.
Watching Pavel Datsyuk play makes one wonder if cloning is legal in Russia. How can one make steal the puck at one end and transition so quickly to the attack on the other end? An absolutely magician.
Why Jonathan Toews Deserves The Selke
Toews played a leading role in helping the runaway Presidents' Trophy winners rank first overall in team defense (2.02 goals-against per game). He finished third in the NHL in plus-minus with a career-high +28 rating, including a League-leading +21 away from home; shared the overall lead in takeaways with fellow Selke finalist Pavel Datsyuk (56); placed second in the NHL in face-off winning percentage (59.9%, 559-374); and played an average of 1:25 per game on the NHL's third-ranked penalty-killing unit (87.2%). The Blackhawks captain is a Selke finalist for second time, having finished runner-up to Vancouver's Ryan Kesler in 2011.
Arguably the best two-way player in the NHL, Toews’s line with Marian Hossa and Brandon Saad hurt you on both ends of the ice.
Who Wins The Selke?
Patrice Bergeron. This could be a Lidstromian run for Bergeron, as long as his faceoff numbers remain that good. He was on the ice for only 13 goals at even strength this season. That’s sick.
1. Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
2. Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
3. Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
4. Jay McClement, Toronto Maple Leafs
5. Marian Hossa, Chicago Blackhawks
Jay McClement is the perfect example of a player that will deserve the Selke for being an aces defensive forward – especially on the PK – but simply doesn’t have the offensive numbers. The question is: Should that matter?