The NHL has announced finalists for another of their year-end awards, the Frank J. Selke Trophy. Always a highly contested and highly debated award, the Selke Trophy is voted by the Professional Hockey Players Association on the basis of “the striker who excels best in the defensive aspects of the game”. The 2020-21 finalists are the center of the Florida Panthers Alexander Barkov, Boston Bruins Center Patrice Bergeron is the Vegas Golden Knights wing Mark Stone.
Of course, Bergeron shouldn’t be surprised. The Bruins captain is a finalist for a record 10 consecutive years and one of only two winners four times in league history (alongside Bob Gainey who won the award in each of the first four seasons that existed). Considered by some to be the best defensive striker to play the game, Bergeron is still a sure bet to be a Selke contender, especially as he also led the league to the front point this season, recording a 62.5% win percentage. . Bergeron also led the NHL in total faceoffs earned, while leading the Bruins forward in blocked shots, short time on the ice and career possession statistics.
That said, some wondered if Bergeron was even his team’s best defensive back this year with the success that Brad Marchand had forced the turnovers, controlling and recording seven short points in the league, not to mention leading all of them. which are not Oil in alloy score. If Bergeron also faced competition in his team, perhaps the door is open for one of the other finalists to prevent him from taking home a fifth-ever Selke record victory.
Barkov led a resurgent Panthers team to this year’s postseason, beating all of Florida forward in ice time, take away and possession, and points per game, and was second in stoppage time. Barkov finished in the top 15 throughout the championship in tackles, wins, and percentages. For Selke’s first-time finalist, Barkov has nevertheless established himself as one of the league’s best defensive strikers now, and his candidacy is long overdue.
As for Stone, he is looking to become the first winger to beat Selke since Jere Lehtinen did so three times, the last coming in 2002-03. A takeaway car, no NHL player has forced more turnovers during Stone’s career, which led the league for the fifth time this year. Stone led all the Knights forward in time on the ice and finished third in short time in hand on the ice for play and blocked shots for play. Stone also led all the way forward in points and plus / minus. However, Stone faces an uphill battle to win without any facial input, and may even be dinged for no longer being involved in the control game, dragging Bergeron and Barkov into successes per game despite their considerable size advantage.
Other than Marchand, other potential snubs include recent winners Sean Couturier and Ryan O’Reilly, while some have thought Sidney Crosby deserved recognition for what was probably the best two-way season of his historic career. However, few will say that the PHWA has not placed itself on the right choices for the top three this year.