On Tuesday morning, the NHL announced the finalists for the Selke Award: Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk, Pittsburgh’s Jordan Staal and Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler. The Frank J. Selke Trophy that is presented annually “to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.” The winner is selected in a poll by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association at the end of the regular season.
The fact that Jonathan Toews wasn’t at least nominated is a joke.
Voted the Most Outstanding Forward in the Winter Olympics in February, Toews is widely considered one of the best two-way centers in the NHL. He ranked seventh in faceoff wins during the regular season, winning 57.3 percent of his draws. Kesler and Datsyuk both won 55.1 percent of their faceoffs, while Staal won 48.3 percent this year.
Toews was credited with 56 hits, 33 blocked shots and 69 takeaways in 76 games. He averaged 3:04 short-handed ice time per game this year, and the Blackhawks allowed only six power play goals while he was on the ice.
Datsyuk, the bar at which the Selke is currently set, was credited with 89 hits, 33 blocked shots and 132 takeaways in 80 games this year. He averaged only 44 seconds of short-handed ice time per game this year, though, and the Red Wings allowed six power play goals while Datsyuk was on the ice this season.
Staal had 121 hits, 41 blocked shots and 41 takeaways in 82 games for the Penguins this year. He averaged 3:20 short-handed ice time per game during the regular season, and the Pens allowed 29 power play goals while Staal was on the ice.
Kesler had 95 hits, 73 blocked shots and 83 takeaways in 82 games. He averaged 3:39 short-handed ice time per game during the regular season, and the Canucks allowed 21 power play goals while Kesler was on the ice.
Comparing the plus-minus ratings of the three, however, makes Toews’ absence more shocking. Kesler was only +1 on the season, while Staal was +19 and Datsyuk was +17. The Blackhawks captain (still the youngest captain in the NHL) was +22 this year.
Clearly, Toews earned the respect of the world with his performance at the Olympics. His statistics back up the fact that he’s an elite defensive center who, despite missing games with a concussion this year, should have still qualified him at least for nomination. The fact that he worked over three minutes per night short-handed and, in 76 games, the Blackhawks allowed just six goals should be the clinching statistic for doubters.
With Toews being excluded from the Selke nominees, there’s a good chance the Blackhawks could be shut out of this year’s postseason awards despite finishing the regular season with the third-most points in the league. If they can win the ultimate prize, the Stanley Cup, the individual accolades will be quickly forgotten.