As members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, we are asked to vote on the NHL’s Most Valuable Player, top defenseman, top rookie, top defensive forward, most gentlemanly player and its All-Star teams at each position.
Here are my picks for the Selke Trophy, which goes to “the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game:”
1. Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins – It’s one thing to carve a reputation; another to keep it. Bergeron has some competition from another center in Chicago, but no NHL forward has a better two-way game. He’s taken more faceoffs than any player in the league [1,732] and has won 58.6 percent of them, which means the Bruins start with possession of the puck more than any team in the NHL. He was also a plus-38 this season on a team that had more 5-0n-5 goals than every team in the NHL. Is Bergeron a No. 1 center on most teams? Probably not. But if I’m going into a playoff series I’d take him over most anybody.
2. Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks – To many, he is Bergeron without the French accent. The fact Toews wears a “C” on his chest tells you the depth of his character on a team that has won the Stanley Cup twice in the past four years. Toews won 57.2 percent of his faceoffs and was a plus-26. He also put up 28 goals and 68 points. Either of these two guys would be worthy candidates.
3. Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins – The Little Ball of Hate may not make his way onto many voters’ ballots, but part of being a Selke candidate is being hated by opponents and Marchand fits the description. In addition to finishing a plus-36 he scored 30 goals this season, five of them shorthanded.
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4. Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings – He’s known more for his offensive skill set [29 goals, 70 points] but Kopitar also finished with the fourth-best plus-minus rating [plus-34] and took just 12 minor penalties all season.
5. Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay Lightning – The fact that a rookie would even be considered for this award is an honor. Only Patrik Elias and Victor Hedman put up as many shorthanded points [six] as the Lightning’s 23-year-old center.
Who's your pick for the 2013-14 Selke?