The NHL announced the three finalists for the Selke Trophy on Wednesday, awarded “to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.”
This year’s finalists are Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar, Boston’s Patrice Bergeron and Philadelphia’s Sean Couturier.
The winner of this award last year, Patrice Bergeron, who is tied with Bob Gainey for the most Selke Trophies all-time with four, is a finalist for a record seventh consecutive season. After posting 53 points in 79 games a year ago, Bergeron bounced back in a big way on offence, with 63 points in 64 games to finish with the best points-per-game rate of his career. His 57.68 CF% at 5-on-5, according to Corsica.Hockey, was the best mark of any full-time forward in the NHL this season. The 32-year-old Bruin also won a league-best 58.3 per cent of his faceoffs while shorthanded.
No Philadelphia Flyer has won the Selke Trophy since Dave Poulin won the honour in 1987, but Sean Couturier has a chance as a first-time finalist for the award. Playing centre on the Flyers’ top line after Claude Giroux moved to left wing, Couturier’s 76 points were the best of his NHL career and nearly doubled his previous high on offence. He was relied on heavily by Dave Hakstol, as Couturier was second among all NHL forwards in total ice time (1,770:31) and third in average ice time per game (21:35). The 25-year-old was also the best puck possession player on his team, finishing with a 53.2 per cent CF% at 5-on-5.
Another regular finalist, Anze Kopitar has finished in the top three of Selke Trophy voting four times in the past five seasons and won the award in 2016. After a down year in 2016-17 with 52 points, his lowest offensive output over a full season in his career, Kopitar rebounded to a career-best 35 goals and 92 points to finish seventh in league scoring. On top of that, Kopitar led all NHL forwards in average time on ice (22:05) and all Kings forwards in average ice time on the penalty kill (2:10) for the league’s best PK unit. Kopitar took 37 per cent of his team’s faceoffs, the third-best mark in the league, and led his team with a 54.1 per cent faceoff win rate, which was also the best mark of his career.
The Selke Trophy is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
All award winners will be announced on June 20 at the NHL Awards Show in Las Vegas.