Another day, another NHL award announced. This evening it was the honor of best defensive forward, which went to Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier. The league named Couturier the recipient of the Frank J. Selke Trophy for the 2019-20 season, his first time winning the award. The Selke Trophy is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association and is awarded to the forward deemed to “best excel in the defensive aspects of the game.”
Couturier faced stiff competition for the honor this season, as 2018-19 winner Ryan O’Reilly of the St. Louis Blues and four-time winner and nine-time finalist Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins were also named finalists. Yet, the race was not particularly close. Couturier finished with 117 of a possible 170 first-place votes, 96 more than Bergeron in second. His 1424 total voting points were also 540 more than Bergeron. O’Reilly finished close behind in third, with Tampa Bay’s Anthony Cirelli in fourth and Vegas’ Mark Stone and Montreal’s Phillip Danault finishing in a distant fifth and sixth respectively.
Couturier has grown into one of if not the best face-off man in the NHL, a main reason he ran away with the Selke this season. He won 59.7% of his draws, more than any other player in the league (with a minimum 50 face-offs). He also ranked second in defensive zone face-off percentage. On the club level, he led all Flyers forwards in average time on ice and short-handed ice time per game and led all Philadelphia skaters in plus/minus and Corsi. Additionally, Couturier finished second in scoring for Philly, just two points behind Travis Konecny for the team lead.