The NHL Award ballots have been mailed out, and hockey fans wait to hear the announcement of which of their favourite stars have been nominated (or snubbed) for the various awards. Unfortunately, the NHL playoffs are on and people don’t really care at this point, but for those who do, here is a numbers based prediction on who will be nominated for the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive forward.
“The Frank J. Selke Trophy is awarded annually to the National Hockey League forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game. The winner is selected by a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association following the regular season. Named after Frank J. Selke, former general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens, the trophy has been awarded 35 times to 23 different players since the 1977–78 NHL season. The current holder is Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings.”
Fourteen of the last fifteen winners have been from the Center position, and it is likely that will not change this year. However, I’m going to break this award into two sets of nominations, one for all forwards, and one for just centers.
The categories that will be looked at here are:
Corsi = Shots + Blocks + Misses
Fenwick = Shots + Misses
CF% – Corsi For % (at Even Strength) = Corsi For Divided by Corsi For + Corsi Against
CF% REL – Relative Corsi For % (at Even Strength) = On Ice Corsi For % Minus Off Ice Corsi For %
CREL/60 – Relative Corsi per 60 Minutes at Even Strength = On Ice Corsi For/60 Minutes – Off Ice Corsi For/60 Minutes
FF% – Fenwick For % (at Even Strength) = Fenwick For Divided by Fenwick For + Fenwick Against
FF % REL – Relative Fenwick For % (at Even Strength) = On Ice Fenwick For % Minus Off Ice Fenwick For %
So, if every forward would realistically be considered, the nominees would be (in alphabetical order):
PATRICE BERGERON – BOS – 79 GP – 21G – 32A – 53PTS
61.8 CF% (1st in NHL) – 9.7 CF%rel (1st) – 22.9 CREL/60 (1st) – 62.0 FF% (1st) – 9.6 FF%rel (1st)
Patrice Bergeron is going to win the Selke this season, which would be his third win in the last four years and fourth in his career, and if he doesn’t, then it’s going to be a terrible mistake. His offensive numbers aren’t where they normally are, but he led the league in many of these defensive categories, which is what this award is all about.
BRAD MARCHAND – BOS – 80GP – 39G – 46A – 85PTS
60.7 CF% (2nd) – 8.5 CF%rel (2nd) – 20.3 CREL/60 (2nd) – 60.8 FF% (2nd) – 7.8 FF%rel (6th)
Brad Marchand may be a bit of a surprise on this list, but numbers do not lie. It’s amazing that Boston did not do better in the standings with their top defensive trio of Bergeron, Marchand and David Pastrnak, but do not be surprised if this team goes deep in the playoffs. Marchand should be in the conversation for the league MVP (that’s for another article) but how much of his defensive numbers are because he plays with Bergeron? Either way, he’s had a hell of a season.
BLAKE WHEELER – WPG – 82GP – 26G – 48A – 74PTS
55.0 CF% (27th) – 8.4 CF%rel (3rd) – 18.4 CREL/60 (5th) – 55.3 FF% (13th) – 8.6 FF%rel (2nd)
Another under-the-radar pick. Wheeler had a great offensive season with the bottom-dwelling Winnipeg Jets, but his defensive numbers were telling. No other Jets were anywhere near Wheeler in these categories, and the fact he was top five in the league in some of them on a bad team is impressive.
Honourable Mentions: Mark Stone – OTT, Chris Kreider – NYR
The nominees this year, like every year, will be centers. If that’s the case, here are who I think will be nominated:
PATRICE BERGERON – BOS*
*I already touched on him above.
JOHN TAVARES – NYI – 77GP – 28G – 38A – 66PTS
52.9 CF% (59th) – 7.7 CF%rel (8th) – 17.9 CREL/60 (7th) – 52.4 FF% (63rd) – 6.6 FF%rel (17th)
The New York Islanders were not a bad team. They were one or two bounces away from the last wildcard spot in the East and playing the Washington Capitals in round one. John Tavares was the biggest reason that they were even close and deserves some recognition for his strong two-way season. It would not be a surprise to see his name as one of the nominees.
RYAN JOHANSEN – NSH – 82GP – 14G – 47A – 61PTS
55.9 CF% (8th) – 7.0 CF%rel (14th) – 16.5 CREL/60 (11th) – 55.2 FF% (14th) – 6.5 FF%rel (18th)
This one might be a surprise, and isn’t a guy named Kopitar or Kesler (both didn’t have seasons to be even considered here) but Johansen put up some big defensive numbers for the always defensively conscious Nashville Predators. Although he had similar offensive numbers last season, it was a great jump in the defense categories from season to the next. He’s a guy who may not be nominated when the names are released, but he is somebody who deserves to be in the conversation.
Honourable Mentions: Derick Brassard – OTT, Jordan Staal – CAR