Frank J. Selke Trophy: The National Hockey League’s best defensive forward
Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins: The defending Selke champ is up for it again. Bergeron is one of the most underrated players in the league and finally got his recognition through this award last year. This year, he led the Bruins forwards with an average of 19:17 minutes per game. He also led his whole team with a +24 rating (second among nominees). What he is best known for, though, is his faceoff success. In the regular season he took 35.6% of the Bruins faceoffs and won a league-leading 62.1% of them. In addition, he had the most defensive zone faceoff wins in the league. The Bruins had a lot of success on the penalty kill and part of the reason for that was Patrice– he won 61.3% of shorthanded faceoffs. Throughout the season Bergeron had 25 blocked shots and tied for third on the team with 23 takeaways.
Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings: Not enough can be said about Pavel Datsyuk. He often embarrasses D-men with his moves and is capable of embarrassing opposing forwards with his solid defensive play, too. Not to mention he won this award three times in the past five years. He ended the regular season with a +21 rating, which led the Red Wings but was last among the nominees. He, like Bergeron, also led his team’s forwards in ice time with an average of 20:10 minutes per game. He had 30 blocked shots and an astounding 56 takeaways (which leads his team and ties for first in the league with Toews). In terms of faceoffs, he took 33.1% and won 55% of them. He also stepped it up in the faceoff circle when coming out with the puck was crucial; he won 62.5% of Detroit’s faceoffs when they were shorthanded.
Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks: Captain Jonathan Toews was a huge part of the Blackhawks success this year—and not only because of his offense. He was one of the best two-way players in the league this season. Like the other two nominees, Toews led his team in plus/minus rating with a +28 (highest among all centermen). He also spent about 19:20 minutes on the ice per game in his 47 games played. Toews had 16 blocked shots and tied Datsyuk for first in the league with 56 takeaways. He took 33.7% of the faceoffs for the Hawks and won 59.9% of them– second in the league after Bergeron. Unlike the other two nominees, Toews didn’t take many shorthanded faceoffs, but he did score 2 short-handed goals.
Pink Puck Pick: Jonathan Toews. All of these nominees can easily be considered the best player on their respective teams. They all have different strengths and contribute to their team in different ways: Bergeron with his constant faceoff success, Datsyuk with his mere existence and natural ability, and Toews with his leadership and offense. If they could give the award to all three of these guys, I don’t think many people would object. But since we have to pick just one, Toews has what it takes. He has the balance of faceoff success like Bergeron and a ridiculously high number of takeaways like Datsyuk.