To no one’s surprise, Patrice Bergeron, Jonathan Toews and Anze Kopitar are the finalists for the Selke Trophy, given to the NHL’s best defensive forward.
Bergeron of the Boston Bruins and Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks have each finished in the top three in voting for the past three seasons, and Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings was fourth last season.
For Bergeron it’s an honour that underscores how much he’s respected around the game for his two-way play.
“I think you’re always trying to work on things and I feel like the complete game is something that I take a lot of pride in and I’m trying to work on,” the Quebec City native said Thursday. “I think that this year I mean obviously I got the bounces offensively, but that being said it doesn’t mean that I let the defensive part of the game out.”
Bergeron, who narrowly lost the 2013 Selke to Toews after winning it in 2012, has to be considered the favourite. His 1,015 faceoff victories were the most by any NHL player in the past seven seasons.
“It makes you proud because you know he’s well deserving of that, he has been for years now,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “Always up there in plus-minus, always plays against top players, and he’s got 30 goals this year playing against top lines. I can’t find a better candidate than him. Certainly deserves the nomination. We’ll see how it goes, but in our regards he’s been the best.”
Toews, who thrived in a shutdown role as perhaps Team Canada’s best forward at the Sochi Olympics, led the Blackhawks in ice time and won 57.2 per cent of his faceoffs.
Kopitar played the most short-handed minutes of the league’s top 30 scorers and keyed the Kings’ top-rated defensive effort. He’s the first player in Los Angeles franchise history to be a Selke finalist.
Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk, a finalist last year and the winner in 2008, 2009 and 2010, missed a big chunk of this season with a knee injury.