NHL announces Selke Trophy finalists

The finalists for the Selke Trophy (best defensive forward) have been announced over at NHL.com, with the defending champion Pavel Datsyuk joined by two new nominees, Ryan Kesler of Vancouver and Mike Richards of Philadelphia.

A couple weeks ago, James Mirtle used the data from Behind the Net to outline his candidates for the award, and he tabbed both Kesler and Richards as potential nominees, while leaving Datsyuk off the list.

The table below shows some of that Behind the Net data. For each player, the Quality of Competition they faced (did they match up against the best of the opposition), their 5-on-5 Goals Against per 60 minutes of play, their 4-on-5 Time On Ice per Game, and 4-on-5 GA/60 minutes:

 Name 5-on-5 QCMP 5-on-5 GA/60 4-on-5 TOI 4-on-5 GA/60
 Pavel Datsyuk 0.04 2.30 1.51 7.35
 Ryan Kesler 0.04 2.35 3.02 6.79
 Mike Richards 0.05 2.35 2.88 5.34


Basically, they all faced tough opponents, but Datsyuk's defensive accomplishments pale in comparison to last year, when his 4-on-5 GA/60 figure was an outstanding 5.70.  A good part of that difference might be allowed for, considering the awful goaltending Detroit has endured during the regular season.

One surprise player left off this list is Minnesota's Mikko Koivu, who carried the Wild with his two-way play while Marian Gaborik spent much of the season injured. His Behind the Net numbers include a 0.08 QCMP (the highest among Mirtle's list), and a 3.81 GA/60 in 4-on-5 play, an amazingly low figure.

All three of these finalists are among the Top 8 in the NHL's Takeaway statistic, but given the arbitrary nature with which Giveaways, Takeaways, and Hits are recorded, I don't put too much stock in that. There's no denying, however, the accomplishments of all three of these nominees...


Pavel Datsyuk

#13 / Center / Detroit Red Wings

5-11

194

Jul 20, 1978



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2008 - Pavel Datsyuk 81 32 65 97 34 22 11 1 3 0 248 12.9

Is he the best two-way player in the game? It's hard to make an argument for anyone else.


Ryan Kesler

#17 / Center / Vancouver Canucks

6-2

205

Aug 31, 1984



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2008 - Ryan Kesler 82 26 33 59 8 61 10 2 2 0 179 14.5

Part of a steady cast of characters that gives Vancouver a real shot in this playoff run.


Mike Richards

#18 / Center / Philadelphia Flyers

5-11

195

Feb 11, 1985



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2008 - Mike Richards 79 30 50 80 22 63 8 7 4 0 238 12.6

People have talked up his leadership skills ever since he made it to the NHL, and having a point-per-game man nominated for his defensive work speaks volumes about what he brings to the Flyers.

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