Panthers’ Aleksander Barkov wins Selke Trophy as best defensive forward

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov received the 2021 Frank J. Selke Award as the best defensive forward in the NHL.

Florida Panthers centre Aleksander Barkov has won the 2020-21 Frank J. Selke Trophy, an honour awarded annually to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game, the league announced Friday.

Barkov, who is now just the fifth player in NHL history to win both the Lady Byng and the Selke Trophy in their career, was voted the winner ahead of Boston Bruins centre Patrice Bergeron and Vegas Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone.

“Obviously I want to thank all of my teammates, the whole organization of the Florida Panthers, coaches, management,” Barkov said during his acceptance speech, going on to thank his family and his trainers in Finland, too. “Without them, it would never be possible.”

A first-time finalist for the award this year, Barkov led Panthers forwards in ice time and finished ninth among NHL forwards as Florida posted its lowest goals-against average since 2015-16. Only Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers and Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings posted better numbers than Barkov’s average ice time and face-off win rate of 54.9 per cent.

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