Selke Trophy Preview: Beware of the Bear
(Patrice Bergeron -- YouTube via Fred Murtz)
The Frank J. Selke Trophy represents the NHL forward who showcases the most defensive skill, voted on annually by the Hockey Writers Association at the conclusion of the regular season. A defensive-minded forward usually won't be in the running for the Art Ross Trophy, but his team will be in on the hunt of Lord Stanley's Cup.
The current warden of the Selke Trophy is Vancouver Canucks forward, Ryan Kesler, after a breakthrough season in 2010- 2011(41G,32A,73PTS,73PIM,+24). Previously, Red Wings forward, Pavel Datsyuk, owned the rights of the Selke Trophy, winning three consecutive seasons, from 2007-2010. During that stretch, Datsyuk averaged 30 Goals, 58 Assists, 88 Points, 20 Penalty Minutes, including a Plus/Minus rating of +31. When looking at the statistics of former Selke recipients, it's hard not to believe that a players offensive output is ignored by the voting bureau.
Once again, this season's nominees will include the same usual suspects in Datsyuk, Kesler and Boston Bruins forward, Patrice Bergeron. It's my belief that this year's winner of the Selke Trophy comes from Boston's Bergeron, after being snubbed from the honor by the HWA in the past.
Patrice Bergeron will never win a scoring title, but he does own an exclusive member in the "Triple Gold Club," tallying gold medals in Olympic play and World Championships, along with a Stanley Cup title in 2011. No one is arguing against the defensive abilities of Datsyuk and Kesler, instead I'm suggesting that Bergeron's defensive skills are equal to or greater than, Datsyuk and Kesler's. All things being equal; Bergeron's defensive-minded presence in Boston's system means more to his club than any other Selke candidate.
Last season, Bergeron was every bit as deserving of a Selke Crown, but Kesler's breakout season, coupled with a stellar Olympic campaign, was too much for the selection committee to ignore. However, Bergeron left regret to many writers inside the HWA after a breakout playoff campaign in 2010-2011, including a Stanley Cup title in which he dominated Kesler in every facet of the game. Tim Thomas may have won the Conn-Smythe Trophy last season as Playoff MVP, but the Bruins don't win the Cup without #37(23GP,6G,14A,20PTS).
This season, Bergeron's play has actually improved, easing the loss of Nathan Horton to injury, while playing mentor to 20-year-old, Tyler Seguin. The B's center man tallied 60+ points for the first time in his career since 2006-2007, even after losing veteran line mate, Mark Recchi, to retirement in the offseason. When most forwards improve on point totals, usually their plus/minus rating dips, but Bergeron's improved to an NHL best, +36, improving on his +20 rating in 2010-2011. A players plus/minus rating is indicative to the players influence or presence in the defensive facets of the game. Bergeron led the league in plus/minus totals, but he also won the most Face-offs in the NHL(973), while also ranking near the top in Faceoff Winning Percentage(59.3%). If your fantasy leagues included Plus/Minus and/or Faceoff categories, you know exactly how big of an asset #37 is.
When comparing the Selke Trophy candidates, remember Bergeron's faceoff skills; a skill usually lost in the debate, but not this season.
2012 Selke Trophy Candidates
The numbers do tmake this rather clear, don't they? When fantasy mirrors reality, the choice seems almost academic. Who would you choose? Let us have it!