With the NHL Awards coming up, we here at The Point will break down the finalists for the six major awards, as well as select our winners before the NHL Awards Ceremony in Vegas on Wednesday. We’ve gone through the Norris and Vezina trophies so far, so let’s keep the defensive theme rolling and make our pick for the Selke Trophy.
Any Selke discussion has to start with Patrice Bergeron. This year is his 8th straight nomination as a finalist for the award and he already has four Selkes to his name in that span. His role has started to become more offensive in the last few years, with his three highest shares of offensive zone starts all coming in the last three season. Despite that, Bergeron isn’t just a player who’s there because of his reputation.
As usual, Bergeron was dominant on faceoffs, finishing in the top 10 in win percentage. He also had an active stick all year, ranking high in blocked passes and stick checks even after missing nearly 20 games. Mix in a career-high in goals and points and you have a strong Selke case for Bergeron, as usual.
Ryan O’Reilly is fresh off a playoff run that ended with a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy, but we’re only looking at the regular season for these awards. Not a problem for O’Reilly, who has been a force on both ends of the ice for St. Louis. The Blues center set career-highs in goals, assists, and points despite having fewer than 50% of offensive zone starts, helped by his 8th-ranked faceoff win percentage.
O’Reilly was also used often on the penalty kill, racking up over 160 shorthanded minutes, placing him 22nd in the league among forwards. He used his vision and active stick to disrupt the opposition’s flow. His play was instrumental in St. Louis’ historic comeback from last place in January to a Stanley Cup win.
Over the years, the Selke trophy has been dominated by centers. The last winger to win it was Jere Lehtinen in 2003, so for Mark Stone to be a finalist after playing all year on the wing for two different teams, including the league-worst Senators, tells you just how much of a defensive impact he’s had this season. He obviously doesn’t have much of an effect in the faceoff circle, but as soon as the puck is in play, he’s as good defensively as any other forward. He ranks top 30 in blocked shots, 2nd in blocked passes and 6th in sticks checks among forward, so no puck in his vicinity is safe.
Stone also put up career-high numbers offensively, crossing the 30-goal and 70-point marks for the first time of his career. Win or lose, Stone being nominated as a winger is an extremely impressive feat.
The Point Consensus Pick: Ryan O’Reilly
Once again, the vast majority of people who answered our poll agree that Ryan O’Reilly deserves the award. There may be some recency bias after his Conn Smythe-winning playoffs but make no mistake, Ryan O’Reilly was a two-way force all season. He was a key piece in the Blues regular season turnaround and one of the better trade acquisition in recent years.