Photo: St. Louis Game Time
St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly, Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier, and Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron were nominated for the Selke Trophy on Monday. The award is given to the league’s best defensive forward.
This is the ninth consecutive season where Bergeron, who finished the 2019-20 campaign with a 56.30% Corsi-for percentage (49th in NHL), a 55.97 Fenwick-for percentage (56th), and a 57.40 expected goals-for percentage (56th) according to Natural Stattrick, has been a finalist for the award as he has won it four times.
O’Reilly, who posted a 52.79% Corsi-for percentage (177th), a 52.54% Fenwick-for percentage (194th), and a 51.77% expected goals-for percentage (289th) this year, won the award last season.
Couturier, who recorded a 56.25% Corsi-for percentage (50th), a 55.36% Fenwick-for percentage (70th), and a 55.54% expected goals-for percentage for the Flyers this season, came in second in award voting in 2017-18.
The award, voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, is given annually to the forward voted as the best to excel in the defensive aspects of the game. The winner will be announced during the conference finals.
Bergeron, who is trying to win the award for a record fifth time, ranked fourth in face-off winning percentage (57.9 percent; minimum 750 attempts) and third in defensive-zone face-off winning percentage (58.4 percent) before the season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. He was tied with Jack Eichel of the Buffalo Sabres for seventh in face-offs taken (1,311), ranked fifth in face-offs won (759), and was first among Boston Bruins forwards in blocked shots (46) and second with 1:43 of shorthanded ice time per game behind Joakim Nordstrom (1:56).
The center, who scored 56 points (31 goals, 25 assists), was plus-23, and averaged 18:44 of ice time in 61 games, helped the Bruins allow the fewest goals in the NHL (167; 2.39 per game) and win the Presidents’ Trophy with the best record in the League (44-14-12, .714 points percentage). He ranked second among Bruins forwards in shot attempts percentage (minimum 10 games played), with Boston taking 56.0 percent of all shot attempts when he was on the ice at 5-on-5. A Selke finalist for a record ninth consecutive season, Bergeron finished third last season and has not won it since 2016-17.
The Bruins will play the Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals in the round-robin portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers to determine the top four seeds in the Eastern Conference for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Couturier is a finalist for the second time after finishing as the runner-up to Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings in 2017-18. He led the NHL in face-off winning percentage (59.6 percent) and finished third in defensive-zone face-off winning percentage (59.5 percent). He ranked first among Flyers forwards in ice time per game (19:50) and shorthanded ice time (140:29), and led all Flyers skaters with an SAT percentage of 56.1 percent.
The center scored 59 points (22 goals, 37 assists) and was plus-21 in 69 games, helping the Flyers (41-21-7, .645) earn a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Couturier would be the third Flyers player to win the award and first since Dave Poulin in 1986-87.
O’Reilly won the award last season and is a finalist for the second time. He led the NHL in face-off wins for the third straight season (880) and was first in face-offs taken (1,556). He finished seventh in face-off winning percentage (56.6 percent) and took the most defensive-zone face-offs (593).
The center scored 61 points (12 goals, 49 assists), was plus-11, and averaged 20:34 of ice time per game, most among Blues forwards. His average of 2:09 of shorthanded ice time was second among Blues forwards, as were his SAT percentage of 52.8 percent (minimum 15 games) and his 42 blocked shots.
O’Reilly was named a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy on July 16. The award, voted on by the PHWA, is given annually to the NHL player who best combines sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct and ability.
The Blues, who finished with the best record in the Western Conference (42-19-10, .662), will play the Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, and Vegas Golden Knights in the round-robin of the Qualifiers to determine the top four seeds into the playoffs from the West.
The 2020 NHL Awards were scheduled for June 18 in Las Vegas but were postponed March 25.
By Harrison Brown