NHL awards season is upon us and Wednesday brought the finalists for the 2018 Selke Trophy, given to the league’s best two-way forward.
The nominees, who are voted for by members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association at the conclusion of the regular season, are Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins, Sean Couturier of the Philadelphia Flyers and Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings.
Bergeron is a four-time winner who could become the all-time leader for Selke wins, passing Bob Gainey, if he takes home the hardware in June. Couturier is a first-time finalist, while Kopitar won the award in 2016 and has been a finalist in four of the past five seasons.
The winner will be announced on June 20 at the 2018 NHL Awards in Las Vegas.
The Case For Patrice Bergeron: This is a record seventh consecutive nomination for Bergeron, passing Pavel Datsyuk’s streak of six seasons.
A perennial contender, Bergeron put together another solid season despite dealing with injuries that limited him to just 64 games — something that could hurt his chances of winning a record fifth trophy.
Still, Bergeron paced the league in CF% (Corsi-for percentage) with 57.68 percent (minimum 600 minutes played). He was also sixth in face-off win percentage (57.3 percent) and was an NHL-best 58.3 percent on faceoffs while shorthanded.
The 32-year-old, who won the award in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2017, finished with 63 points, his best season in terms of points per game. Bergeron hit the 30-goal mark for the fourth time in his career.
The Case For Sean Couturier: Couturier had a career-year in terms of goals (31), assists (45) and points (76) playing in all 82 regular season games for the Flyers.
Couturier, getting his first Selke nomination, benefitted from a move to left wing for Claude Giroux, and the line that formed with the duo flourished all season.
Couturier was leaned upon by the Flyers and was second in the NHL in minutes with 1,770:31 and third in average time-on-ice at 21:35 per game.
Couturier’s possession metrics were solid, finishing with a 53.2 percent CF%, which was highest on the Flyers.
A win for Couturier would make him the first Flyers Selke winner since Dave Poulin in 1987 and just the third in franchise history (Bobby Clarke won in 1983).
The Case For Anze Kopitar: The 2016 winner is a finalist for the fourth time in the past five seasons, and he has, arguably, the strongest case this season to return to the podium.
The 30-year-old had a bounce-back season this year, scoring a career-high 35 times on his way to a career-best 92 points, good for seventh in NHL scoring.
Kopitar led all NHL forwards in ice time with 1,810:58, an average of 22:05 per game. This is all the more impressive given that the Kings were the top club in the league in terms of team defense, allowing a league-low 2.45 goals per game.
Kopitar was also a force shorthanded, averaging 2:10 per game on the NHL’s top penalty-killing unit.
And his faceoff prowess has never been better, taking 37 percent of the Kings’ faceoffs, the third-highest percentage in the NHL. His faceoff win rate of 54.1% led the Kings and also marked a career-best.
2018 NHL Award finalists