Yesterday, we looked ahead to the 2014 NHL Awards by making our predictions for the Vezina and Norris Trophies. Now, let’s discuss the Frank J. Selke Trophy.
Last year, Chicago’s Jonathan Toews captured his first Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive forward. He topped a crowded field with two previous winners – Boston’s Patrice Bergeron and Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk – as finalists.
Toews was a finalist for the Selke in 2011, when Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler won the award. Kesler missed most of last year because of injury, but is expected to be back at full strength for the Canucks this season.
Those four names – Toews, Bergeron, Datsyuk and Kesler – will likely appear on every short list of potential finalists for the Selke this year, and will be there for the foreseeable future. But there are a number of other forwards that could push their way onto the ballot this season.
Anze Kopitar of the Kings might be the most underrated defensive forward in the league, and should be considered alongside the four we already named. However, one of Kopitar’s teammates – Mike Richards – is also a fantastic all-around forward that could steal attention and votes. Dallas’ Jamie Benn and Ryan Callahan of the Rangers could also emerge as candidates if they can get/stay healthy and their respective teams are in the playoff discussion in late-March.
So who will win the Selke in 2014? Here are our predicted finalists:
- Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
- Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
- Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
- Sleeper: Loui Eriksson, Boston Bruins
Winner: Jonathan Toews
Just as Datsyuk has been at the top of the Selke list for the last decade, it appears the next decade of Selke conversation will begin (and end) with Captain Serious. He’s one of the best faceoff men in the NHL, is consistently among the league’s leaders in takeaways, and continues to improve offensively. Datsyuk may receive a bump in votes with Detroit being in the Eastern Conference and with more fans (and voters) being able to see him more regularly, but Toews has established himself as one of the premier forwards in the game.