For the second straight year, Anze Kopitar is one of the three finalists for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, awarded to the NHL's best defensive forward.
Kopitar didn't put together quite as good a campaign as he did in 2013-14, and as with Bergeron, his team's performance dipped quite a bit as well. Regardless, the Professional Hockey Writers' Association saw fit to reward the same three players they did last year, and none of the three did anything to dissuade the notion that they're among the best in the game at what they do.
The Boston Bruins' Patrice Bergeron, the 2014 winner who hasn't been outside the top two of the voting since 2010-11, and the Chicago Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews, the 2013 winner, are the other two finalists. Bergeron will get the stat vote. Toews will get the his-team-actually-made-the-playoffs vote. Kopitar? A lot of voters were probably looking to reward Kopitar for his two Cups and his previously under-the-radar success. Unfortunately, it's hard to see him winning in a non-playoff campaign in which his offensive and on-ice goal numbers fell off.
That doesn't change the fact that he was, once again, a great defender this season, and he's a deserving finalist! He was one of the ten best forwards in the NHL at limiting shot attempts. He only took five penalties all season. His shorthanded ice time led all Kings forwards. (And that's just what I was able to figure out by spending five minutes at Puckalytics.com.)
Given the way in which the Selke Trophy has become so heavily based on reputation, there's almost no doubt he'll earn a Selke one day. For now, he'll have to settle for winning the Kings' Defensive Player of the Year award. And this will add to his impressive collection of decent finishes in awards races, and that's not even including his two top-three (I assume) finishes in Conn Smythe voting!
In the meantime, Kopitar will have his eyes on the real prize: the Lady Byng. The Los Angeles Kings will probably send one more player to the NHL Awards, as Drew Doughty is expected to earn his second career Norris Trophy nomination.
The 2015 NHL Awards will take place on June 24, 2015.