With NHL Awards set for June 24 in Las Vegas, our writers make a case for each nominee — Patrice Bergeron, Anze Kopitar, Jonathan Toews — winning the Frank Selke Trophy. Which player do you think is most deserving of the hardware?
Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
Since we have the exact same Selke finalists as we did in 2013-14, I see no reason why we shouldn’t have the same winner.
Curious how Patrice Bergeron even found time to be the Bruins’ top scorer (55 points), what with all the time he spent killing penalties. The four-time Selke finalist led all Bruins in shorthanded ice time (141:24) and ranked among the NHL’s top five forwards in most possession metrics.
Bergeron was easily the NHL’s greatest face-off artist of 2014-15, winning a greater percentage of his draws (60.2%) than anyone else; Toews ranked sixth in this category and Kopitar ranked 26th. So trusted was the centre that coach Claude Julien sent him out for a league-high 1,951 draws.
We know what you’ll say: “Yeah, but the Bruins failed to make the playoffs, and Patrice made that awkward spoken-word commercial.” It’s not Bergeron’s fault the club’s offence dried up – he had his sixth 20-goal campaign — and the defence was hampered by injuries and the Johnny Boychuk trade.
It is, however, to Bergeron’s credit that Boston was the eighth-best defensive team in the league and the most dominant in the dot.
Give Bergy his third Selke.
Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
Perhaps it’s because he plays on the west coast or maybe it’s because he’s often overshadowed by the two Team Canada sweethearts he is nominated alongside, but Kopitar is perennially overlooked in the Selke conversation.
The Slovenian star was nominated for the first time last year and many felt he should have won. OK, so he’s not quite as good in the faceoff circle as the other two, but the 27-year-old is more effective in other areas of the ice — like in the corners and along the boards. He uses his 6-foot-3, 224-pound frame to great effect and his 105 hits were nearly twice that of both Bergeron (57) and Toews (56). Also, he has led his team in scoring for seven consecutive years and neither Toews nor Bergeron can say that.
Whether you’re a fan of advanced stats or not, they’re probably the best way to try to quantify which player should win the Selke. And in Kopitar’s case, he led all NHL forwards in five-on-five shot attempts differential. His 2.51 points per 60 minutes were also better than both his counterparts. The fact his team missed the playoffs should hold no bearing on whether or not the two-time Stanley Cup champion is deserving of the award.
Hot take: Kopitar is a Kopi-star
– Mike Johnston
Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
Jonathan Toews is a Selke finalist for the fourth time in five years, having taken home the hardware in 2012-13.
Toews helped the Chicago Blackhawks tie for the fewest goals against in the NHL, and he finished with a Western Conference best (fifth overall) plus/minus rating of plus-30. Toews also finished with the fifth-best five-on-five Corsi for rating (55.73 per cent) among forwards in the ultra-competitive Central Division.
The 26-year-old ranked fourth in the NHL in face-off wins (947) and sixth in face-off winning percentage (56.5 per cent). Some analytics types may note that Toews holds the highest offensive zone-start rate of the nominees at 56.9 per cent, but so it goes when you’re this efficient at keeping the puck out of your own end.
Toews scored 28 goals and 66 points in 81 games with the Blackhawks in 2014-15 and is the only nominee whose team qualified for the post-season.
Elite at both ends of the ice and as consistent as they come. Toews should take home his second Selke Trophy. – Scott Lewis