Bergeron, Kopitar and Toews named Selke finalists


The previous two Selke Trophy winners, Jonathan Toews and Patrice Bergeron, along with first-time finalist Anze Kopitar have been named as the three nominees for this season, the NHL announced on Thursday.

Given annually to “the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game,” the Selke was taken home last year by Toews — his first-ever win — and captured two years ago by Bergeron, who won in a landslide with 106 first-place votes.

This year, Kopitar joined the fray. The L.A. center played all 82 games this year and finished second to Sidney Crosby in terms of minutes logged by a forward; Kopitar also logged more shorthanded time than any of the NHL’s top-30 scorers and won 53.3 percent of his faceoffs. By being named a finalist, the Slovenian becomes the first-ever player in Kings franchise history to garner a Selke nomination.

Bergeron, meanwhile, led the NHL with 1,015 faceoff wins — the most by any player in seven years — and led all Boston forwards in shorthanded time on ice per game. This marks the third consecutive year he’s been a Selke finalist, as he finished the runner-up to Toews in ’13.

Speaking of Toews, he earned his third Selke nomination in the last four years by finishing fifth in the NHL in faceoff wins (884) and percentage (57.2). “Captain Serious” also led all Chicago forwards in time on ice per game and finished second on the team in takeaways, with 51.

Panarin impresses ‘Hawks with his preseason debut

Artemi Panarin
AP Photo

Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.

Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.

“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.

The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.

Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.

Gustavsson secures one-year contract with Bruins

Jonas Gustavsson
AP Photo
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There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.

The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.

That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.

In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.

Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.