2009 NHL Awards – Selke Trophy

frank j selke trophy-top defensive forwardThe Frank J. Selke Trophy is given out every year to the forward who is voted as “most proficient in the defensive aspects of hockey.”

In my opinion, this award is one of the more underrated awards, and it doesn’t receive enough attention.  All of the finalists and winners of this award are every bit as important to their teams (and sometimes more important) than a great goal scorer or passer.

Finalists for this year’s Selke Award include: Pavel Datsyuk, Mike Richards, and Ryan Kesler.

pavel datsyuk1. Pavel Datsyuk – Detroit Red Wings
Datsyuk was an integral part of the Red Wings Stanley Cup season last year, and he has continued his incredible, responsible two-way play right on through the 2008-09 regular season.

Datsyuk is consistently one of the best shut down forwards in the league and this year was no exception.  He’s a 3rd defender whenever he’s on the ice, and is a large part of the reason that Detroit is the powerhouse that they are with the mediocre goaltending that they have.

He will very likely walk away with this award for the second straight year.

mike richards2. Mike Richards – Philadelphia Flyers
The 23-year old Flyers captain, Mike Richards has become the league’s short-handed expert.  He led the league in shorthanded goals this year with 7, and shorthanded points with 9.

While powerplays are usually an advantage, Mike Richards and his Flyers team make other teams with the man advantage worry not only about scoring, but also being scored upon.

Teams have developed powerplay schemes around keeping Richards from scoring on them.  In my book, whenever a team changes their offensive strategy because of the way you play defense, you must be pretty darn good at what you do.

ryan kesler3. Ryan Kesler – Vancouver Canucks
I like Kesler, and I think that he’s a remarkable defensive forward… but in my opinion, he’s a little outclassed (and underrated) as far as this award is concerned.

Voters will most likely look at the fact that Vancouver has a very good defense and stellar goaltender to support their forwards.  Voters will also look at the pros of the other two finalists for this award, and stack these characteristics up against the blossoming Kesler.  With the competition that he faces for this award, I just don’t think he has much of a chance.

His time will come though I’m sure.  He is young, and seems to get better with every passing season.  I’d expect to see him as a finalist for this award for years to come.

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