The NHL announced Patrice Bergeron (Bruins), Sean Couturier (Flyers), and Ryan O'Reilly (Blues) as the 2019-20 Frank J. Selke Trophy finalists.
The Professional Hockey Writers Association votes on the award, which goes to “the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.”
It’s been fascinating to watch the Selke Trophy debate evolve as advanced stats have become increasingly prevalent. While some PHWA voters may still weigh plus/minus heavily, the larger debate has become far more sophisticated.
With that in mind, you may see a wide variety of arguments for would-be Selke Trophy finalists. Despite being a winger, Mark Stone (Golden Knights) has commanded frequent attention. To many, Anthony Cirelli (Lightning) seems poised to go from dark horse candidate to future finalist. You’ll also see names you may not expect, such as Blake Coleman (now of the Lightning).
[2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule]
But let’s consider the three finalists for the 2019-20 Selke Trophy:
The Selke Trophy cases for finalists Bergeron, Couturier, O’Reilly
Four-time Selke winner Patrice Bergeron
Bergeron, 34, may have lost a few steps, but he’s still a key part of a Bruins team that ended up being the only squad in the NHL to eclipse 100 standings points. Bergeron dominates in the faceoff circle, and generally centers an incredible line with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak.
The Bruins center is tied with Bob Gainey for the most Selke wins all-time with four, while this is a record ninth consecutive time Bergeron has been a finalist.
Sean Couturier continues to gain mainstream attention
We’re finally probably at the point where Sean Couturier isn’t underrated. Or at least we’re getting there.
Couturier continues to be a workhorse who drives play for the Flyers, who enjoyed a surge to the Round Robin level of the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers. Couturier logs significant penalty kill minutes, contributes offensively, and is a beast on draws.
Maybe voters would prefer to give Couturier the award, rather than these other two Selke finalists, who’ve won at least one each?
Ryan O’Reilly goes for two Selke wins in a row
Some viewpoints hinge on which metrics people weigh the most. While there are certain analytics that bump Bergeron and Couturier down in the eyes of some, O’Reilly tends to bridge the “traditional” and “fancy stats” gap the most of the three Selke finalists.
He certainly checks the traditional boxes. ROR is another faceoff beast on a team that can be suffocating defensively. As much as these awards are based on 2019-20, O’Reilly certainly made an impression with his outstanding work during the Blues’ 2019 Stanley Cup run.
Bergeron and Couturier rank as inoffensive choices, but O’Reilly might be the frontrunner overall.
Then again, that’s for you (and eventually, the PHWA) to decide:
NHL AWARD FINALISTS
• Ted Lindsay Award: Leon Draisaitl, Nathan MacKinnon, Artemi Panarin
• Calder Trophy: Quinn Hughes, Cale Makar, Dominik Kubalik
• Jack Adams Award: Bruce Cassidy, John Tortorella, Alain Vigneault
• Masterton Trophy: Stephen Johns, Oskar Lindblom, Bobby Ryan
• Lady Byng Trophy: Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Matthews, Ryan O’Reilly
• Vezina Trophy: Connor Hellebuyck, Tuukka Rask, Andrei Vasilevskiy
• Norris Trophy: John Carlson, Victor Hedman, Roman Josi
• Hart Trophy: Leon Draisaitl, Nathan MacKinnon, Artemi Panarin
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.