Picking the Selke winner
The Frank J. Selke Trophy has to be the most miss-voted upon trophy in all of professional sports. There's absolutely no rhyme or reason to some of the ballots entered, year after year, and the winners are almost never the top shutdown players in any given season.
That's not to say everyone gets it wrong.
Here's a sampling of some of the candidates that are out there this season from various sources:
Danny Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson both are great on both ends of the ice, with good +/- rankings, and would be good choices. But they also will split votes, and the guy to me that stands out tied Alfredsson in short-handed goals and assists this year on a non-play-off team: Patrick Sharp. The other finalists will and should probably include Alfredsson, and I am going to go with Brendan Morrow, a physical forward with a strong +/-.
Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit. A plus-41 rating should start the conversation, but he wins 54.4 percent of his face-offs and led the NHL with 142 takeaways. Runner-up: Ryan Kesler, Vancouver.
Talk to anybody in the Red Wings locker room, you'll hear there's no better two-way forward than Henrik Zetterberg. Everybody sees the obvious offense — 43 goals and 92 points — but he's a plus-30, brilliant in the neutral zone and on the penalty kill. Runners-up: Mikko Koivu of the Wild; Saku Koivu of Montreal, John Madden of New Jersey, Chris Drury of the N.Y. Rangers.There's some good sniffing going on there, with many of the right candidates coming out. It's just painful that plus-minus is the only measure available to weigh in on the discussion.
Except it's not.
According to statistics such as strength of competition, goals against per minute played and penalty killing metrics, Mikko Koivu has been the NHL's top defensive forward this season. And Anaheim's checking line continues to be deadly.
Here's my list of the top 30 shut down performers (normally I wouldn't even show plus-minus here, but I will to prove a point):
If you could give the award to a whole line, that'd make things rather easy.
Now, Koivu has missed a ton of games, about one-third of the season, and so has Pahlsson, another good candidate. And the one intangible I haven't included here is offensive production on the penalty kill, which has to at least count for something.
And, in my mind anyway, that means Patrick Sharp deserves this one for 2007-08. (Although any of the top 15 are better choices than the majority of winners in previous years.)