In 2013-14, Anze Kopitar was just happy to be nominated. In 2014-15, the bitter taste of missing the playoffs probably ruined his chances. This year? It might be his time to win the Frank J. Selke Trophy.
Selke Trophy finalists as NHL's best defensive forward are Kopitar, Kesler,Bergeron.— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) April 28, 2016
Look, we know, it's not the most prominent of the individual NHL awards. But the award given annually to "the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game" is the one that Kopitar perennially has a shot at taking home. After finishing 9th, 9th, 4th, 2nd, and 3rd in the voting in the last five years, this is probably the best chance he's ever had to earn the honor.
Why? Well, Ryan Kesler is a past winner, so the "it's time" factor isn't there, and hasn't gotten quite the same hype as either Kopitar or Bergeron recently. As for Patrice Bergeron: yes, he's terrific. But two wins in a row, and three in the last four, might prove to be exhausting for voters. That's especially true after the Boston Bruins once again missed the playoffs. The Los Angeles Kings are getting awards love this year, as shown by Jonathan Quick's Vezina nomination, so the momentum has been building.
We wrote all about Kopitar's case in March. Kesler didn't even make our tailored list of 20 contenders due to his 47.1% Goals For%, so it's a bit surprising that voters (the PHWA) looked past the goals against to give him a nod. In the end, though, it's a two-man race. Hopefully Kopitar wins it.