It really is a beautiful thing. (photo: German Wikipedia. Yeah, I don't know either.)
For the last week of the regular hockey season, the Aerys NHL writers have been revealing their picks for the NHL award categories. You can find the previous prognostics over on the side bar.
When I was given the chance to cover an NHL award this season, I won’t lie, my brain immediately screamed ‘Nugent-Hopkins for Calder!’, but upon finding out that was already covered, I thought maybe the Selke would be an interesting choice. For an official definition:
“The Frank J. Selke Trophy is an annual award given to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association at the end of the regular season.”
The Selke Trophy has been around since 1978, when Bob Gainey of the Montréal Canadiens was the first winner; he won it the first four years it was around. Nobody has won it as many times as he has, but Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings comes pretty close with his three wins.
Last year, Ryan Kesler was Aerys’ predicted winner. Also last year: Ryan Kesler won the Selke Trophy.
No pressure for me, or anything.
In the game that is ice hockey, it’s necessary to be able to excel in all aspects of the game if you want to be rewarded for it. Sure, some NHL’ers are better than others, and while they’re all important on and off the ice (I really don’t want to offend anyone, here), some are more… noticeable than others.
When you’re a forward, you have to play a 200-foot-by-85-foot game. Also, if you’re a defenseman and you never leave your end you probably won’t be around for very long at all. In other words, unless you’re a goaltender (then please, stay in your crease. More often than not, that’s the best idea) or in the KHL (in which case, pick it up and use the rest of your ice, boys) or a goaltender in the KHL (then watch out for those 114-mph shots, bro) there’s no way you’re never needed in all aspects of the game. For example: Friday, March 30th, when the Edmonton Oilers played the Los Angeles Kings and lost two defensemen in two periods. Enter: call-up Chris VandeVelde, who may be a centre, but was willing to step in and help out on the blue line when the Oilers were running low on d-men due to injury. Whether or not that’s even a common occurrence in the NHL is beside the point; the actual reason I’m writing this is to talk about forwards who are good defensively as well.
Selke winners are an elite group of penalty killers, faceoff winners, goal scorers, shot blockers and all-around badasses. Or something. Each year, three nominees are chosen before the start of the playoffs. My job was to beat the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association to the punch and guess who would win this year’s Selke Trophy.
First things first, I picked three of my own nominees.
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