The National Hockey League announced on Thursday that Anze Kopitar, Patrice Bergeron and Jonathan Toews are finalists for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, awarded annually “to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.” Voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, Kopitar has never been nominated for the trophy and finished in fourth place in voting a season ago.
Toews won the 2013 Selke Trophy, while Bergeron was the winner in 2012. Both were nominated last year along with Pavel Datsyuk, whom Kopitar replaced as a finalist. The winner will be announced at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas on June 24.
It is always a challenge for a west coast-based player to win this award. Since it was first presented in 1978, the only player from the Pacific or Mountain Time Zones to win the award was Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks in 2011.
Kopitar appeared in all 82 games and logged more ice time (1,712:45) than all NHL forwards except Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby for the club that allowed a League-low average of 2.05 goals per game. He logged the most shorthanded time (164:53) among the League’s top 30 scorers, led the Kings and tied for fourth in the NHL in plus-minus with a career-high +34 rating and won 53.3% of his 1,451 face-offs. Kopitar is a Selke Trophy finalist for the first time and becomes the first Kings player in franchise history to garner a Selke nomination.
An emergence in gauging a player’s effectiveness in recent years acknowledges that the best defense is a good offense, and that by holding a puck possession advantage over your opponents, a player limits or defends without actually playing in his own zone. A player’s Corsi reflects a player’s puck possession rate by determining the percentage of shot attempts at the attacking net while he is on the ice; Patrice Bergeron led the NHL with a 61.2% Corsi-for rating, while Anze Kopitar ranked second amongst league forwards and Jonathan Toews ranked sixth.
Jewels from the Crown prophesied this day. For or more on the underlying stats that make the three players fine choices for this year’s award – and which points towards Bergeron and Kopitar being the worthier candidates – read this article by Robert P.
Darryl Sutter usually doesn’t go more than a week or two without speaking of his appreciation for the way his top line center plays. His best quote on Kopitar came after the team’s morning skate in Pittsburgh on March 27.
“You might argue that the best player, other than Kopitar, in the league, is Crosby,” he said.