As a reminder, the award is phrased as being given “to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.” PHWA members are the voters.
From here, these are some great choices. Sure, you can advance your own suggestions (Mikael Backlund of the Calgary Flames, maybe?) but no one’s really glaringly out of place.
Bergeron is a three-time winner of the trophy, a player who tends to satisfy “traditional” types with his face-off skills and scoring output, while he’s such a perennial puck possession monster that fancy stat-leaning people may think of the nominees as Bergeron and two other guys.
The NHL does a nice job summarizing Kesler’s regular spot among nominees:
Kesler is a Selke finalist for the second consecutive season and for the fifth time overall. He finished third in 2016 with Anaheim and was a finalist in each season from 2009 through 2011 with Vancouver, capturing the award in 2011.
This is the first time Koivu’s been nominated. For some time, he was a favorite on “most underrated” lists, although he dealt with some struggles before Bruce Boudreau came along. He was a huge part of the Wild’s impressive work in the regular season.
You really can’t go wrong with any of these three nominees.