The NHL has announced the finalists for the 2019 Frank J. Selke Trophy, given to the best defensive forward in the league. Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, who has won the award four times, received his eighth consecutive nomination. With him are St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly and Vegas Golden Knights winger Mark Stone.
Bergeron’s presence on the list should come as no surprise. The 33-year old center has long been considered one of the best defensive forwards to ever suit up in the NHL, finishing just outside the finalist group twice even before this nearly unprecedented eight-year run. Still, given the fact that he played just 65 games and logged an average of just 13:30 at even strength some may point to other deserving candidates like Aleksander Barkov who seem to have been overlooked. There’s no doubt that Bergeron still has the chops for this prize, but as he ages and more responsibility is put on other Bruins it will be harder and harder for him to take home the trophy.
In his place as a potential yearly candidate is O’Reilly, who turned in the best season of his career after a move to St. Louis. Though his 77 points don’t directly tie into the Selke voting (or at least, they shouldn’t), they were all the more impressive given his outstanding efforts in the defensive end. O’Reilly was once again one of the best faceoff men in the league, winning more draws than any other player and converting at a 56.9% rate. He has never been named a finalist for the award previously, but has received at least some votes in each of the last eight years.
Stone’s appearance here is perhaps most impressive, given that he does not play the position most often linked to the Selke trophy. The Golden Knights forward lines up on the wing but is arguably the best player in the league at creating neutral zone turnovers and hardly ever gives the puck up without a fight. That two-way ability is exactly why the Golden Knights decided to go out and acquire him at the deadline, and that decision is paying off handsomely as he leads all players with six goals and ten points in the playoffs.