The NHL has announced the finalists for yet another of its end-of-year awards, the Frank J. Selke Trophy. Always a hotly-contested and highly-debated award, the Selke Trophy is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association on the basis of “the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.”
Barkov took home the award last season after previous top-five finishes and is one of the best two-way players in the league. His offensive numbers took another step forward this season, while his defensive play stayed quite high. Paired at times with rookie Anton Lundell on the penalty kill (a player who might find himself on the Selke ballot eventually), Barkov averaged more than two minutes of short-handed time a night for the Panthers, and was once again one of the most dominant faceoff men in the NHL. His 56.9% win percentage in the dot was the best of his career and continued a five-year trend of improvement in that area.
Lindholm, meanwhile, is a Selke finalist for the first time after anchoring the best even-strength line in the NHL this season. When he was on the ice alongside Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk, the Flames were nearly unstoppable, scoring more than twice as often as the opponents. The trio finished 1-2-3 in +/- rating, with Lindholm dragging his career number back into the black with a +61. While his linemates have a lot of impact on that overall success, the 27-year-old came into his own as a shutdown center, and also logged more short-handed ice time than any other Flames forward.
It always comes back to Bergeron though, who is now a Selke finalist for the 11th season in a row. Now 36, some would have expected his game to take a step backward at some point, but that wasn’t this season. The Bruins captain had one of the (if not the) best defensive seasons of his career, completely smothering the opponent whenever he was on the ice. Winning more than 60% of his draws for the fifth time in his career, dominating possession even more than in previous years, and actually setting a career-high with 78 hits, Bergeron will be tough to beat again this season.
With four Selke wins in the past, Bergeron has a chance to pass Bob Gainey and become the all-time leader with five trophies should he take it home this year. Barkov could become just the tenth player to win more than one.