The Selke Trophy goes to "the National Hockey League forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game," which does make awarding it to a dude with 97 points a little awkward.
But it's not as if Pavel Datsyuk doesn't have the numbers to back up his defensive credentials, too.
The Detroit Red Wings star and 2007-08 Selke winner was announced today as one of the three leading vote-getters for the award, along with Philadelphia Flyers center Mike Richards and Vancouver Canucks center/right winger Ryan Kesler. The field ...
Why Pavel Datsyuk deserves the Selke: Like Mike Green and the Norris Trophy, some of Datsyuk's best defense is a good offense. His puck-possession skills keep his opponents from attacking, and are a perfect fit with the Red Wings' system. But he also has the defensive pedigree: Second in the NHL with 89 takeaways, third in plus/minus with a plus-34 and ninth in faceoff percentage according to the NHL. So it really doesn't matter that he doesn't exactly take the body.
Why Ryan Kesler deserves the Selke: Kesler? Takes the body. The biggest pest of the three, Kesler has an outstanding season throughout the Canucks' lineup, posting career highs in goals (26) and points (59) while not sacrificing the hard-edged defense that's been his calling card. He had 70 blocked shots, a plus-8 on the season and four shorthanded points -- all while bringing his PIMs down by 18 from last season. And hey, the Flyers and Red Wings already have multiple Selkes; where's the Canucks' love, huh?
Why Mike Richards deserves the Selke: If anyone can take this award away from Datsyuk, it might be Richards. The drum beat started earlier this year for his candidacy, and like Datsyuk he has a great balance between offensive and defensive glamour stats. Richards had 30 goals and 80 points; he also had seven shorties and nine shorthanded points to lead the NHL. (Datsyuk, by comparison, had just two.) Richards was a plus-22 with 90 blocked shots, according to the NHL.
There have been six multiple winners in the history of the award, which dates back to Bob Gainey's Selke in 1977-78. It's hard to imagine Datsyuk not joining that list in Vegas; but don't touch his dream with your dirty hands. Richards, however, certainly makes the case for his candidacy. We know where Pierre McGuire's vote went (language warning).