Despite plenty of attention to the possibility during the season, Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby did not finish in the top three in voting for the Selke Trophy, which goes to the NHL’s top defensive forward.
The three finalists, announced Wednesday evening by the NHL, are Boston center Patrice Bergeron, St. Louis center Ryan O’Reilly and Vegas winger Mark Stone.
Crosby, who many times this season was called “the best 200-foot player in the game” by Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, was considered at least a possible candidate for the award. His backchecking gained some attention, he killed penalties more than he had in several seasons, he was strong on faceoffs at a 55% success rate, had 54 takeaways, blocked 43 shots, and he had a plus-minus of plus-18.
However, there has long been a thought that being considered for the Selke Trophy and the Hart Trophy as league MVP were practically mutually exclusive because a strong offensive player’s statistics overshadow his defensive play, or because of a reputation that a lot of top offensive players concentrate on that part of their game to the detriment of defensive play. The only player to win both trophies in the same years was Detroit’s Sergei Fedorov in 1994.
The finalists for the Hart Trophy have not been announced.
The Selke Trophy is awarded based on voting by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association done before the playoffs.
Bergeron, who led the Bruins at plus-23 and is the team’s top penalty-killing forward, has won the Selke four times, tied for the most since the award was initiated in 1978, and is a finalist for a record eighth straight year.
O’Reilly led the NHL in faceoff wins (1,086) for the second straight season and led the Blues at plus-22. He is a first-time Selke finalist.
Stone led the league in takeaways for the fourth time in five seasons with 122 with Ottawa and, after a trade, Vegas. The Selke often goes to a center, and Stone is the first winger to be voted a finalist since New Jersey’s Jay Pandolfo in 2006-07.