Saturday, June 14, 2008

2007-08 Selke voting

Another long, long list.

More than 80 forwards received a vote as one of the the top five defensive forwards in the NHL this season, which is roughly one-third of those who play on a team's top three lines:


Unlike some, I like the Selke. I think it's a great way to honour players who otherwise don't get a lot of credit for their contributions, or simply to highlight players like Henrik Zetterberg who bring far more to the table than can be measured in goals and assists.

After the season ended, I went through my methodology for picking the Selke before eventually settling on Patrick Sharp as a deserving winner.

My top 10 choices were in a poll on that post, with the final results looking like so:
  1. Pavel Datsyuk, 26%
  2. Patrick Sharp, 19%
  3. Mikko Koivu, 12%
  4. Henrik Zetterberg, 12%
  5. Sami Pahlsson, 9%
  6. John Madden, 6%
  7. Travis Moen, 4%
  8. Rick Nash, 3%
  9. Jay Pandolfo, 1%
  10. Rob Niedermayer 1%
I think that's a decent list, and ultimately, the PHWA put five of those top six among its top six: Datsyuk (1st), Madden (2nd), Zetterberg (3rd), Sharp (4th) and Pahlsson (6th).

A much better showing, overall, than last season, when Rod Brind'Amour won over Pahlsson for no explicable reason. (Two months after the voting, Pahlsson was a big reason the Ducks won the Stanley Cup.)

Koivu finished eighth, Moen 23rd, Nash 66th, Pandolfo 17th and Niedermayer 18th.

And a whole bunch of odd choices in between.

It'd take me hours to root through the statistics for all the vote getters and come up with a list of the worst choices, but a lot are plainly evident against my Selke candidate criteria: (a) a player should check the opposition's top line at even strength, (b) he should, in general, prevent goals when he's on the ice, and (c) he should play on the penalty kill, preferably the first unit.

To me, that's a defensive forward. At least, that would make a candidate to finish among the top five in the league, which is what we're picking.

My list would have been: Sharp - Zetterberg - Datsyuk - Koivu - Pahlsson

(The last two you can debate given they missed about 25 games apiece. Madden and Moen would be next up.)

Some of the wild picks? Japers' Rink points out that Viktor Kozlov and his eight minutes of shorthanded ice time (over 81 games) received a first-place vote.

Brind'Amour finishes 24th, which I can live with. Ovechkin received four votes despite not playing hardly a wink on the penalty kill, and he was joined by several other non-defensive forwards like Dany Heatley, Mats Sundin, Nathan Horton, Mike Ribeiro, Joe Thornton, Doug Weight, Stephen Weiss, Nicklas Backstrom, Sergei Fedorov, Jiri Hudler, Derek Roy, etc.

Those players, and others, were considered to be among the top five defensive forwards in the NHL, and all were ahead of, or tied with, Jordan Staal, Torrey Mitchell and Rick Nash, who played key defensive roles.

Which makes no sense.

Among forwards who played in 50 games this season, Ribeiro faced the second weakest even-strength opposition in the NHL. Todd White, 42nd in Selke voting, was on the ice for the sixth most even-strength goals against per minute this season.

When it comes to penalty killing, Ryan Kesler was on the ice for the most power play goals against among forwards. Matt Stajan was third.

In power play goals against per minute, Brind'Amour was again near the head of the class. Mike Richards was way up there, too.

Now, as I said, this year's nominees and vote getters are far better than they've been in the past, and I think that's partly attributable to the fact there is more information available on the defensive side of the game. There are still an awful lot of PHWA votes, however, being cast into the wind (or worse).

Heatley, Getzlaf, Kozlov, Ovechkin, Morrow, Ribeiro, etc., all make the list due to their plus-minus, even as the bogus stat hurts the likes of Mike Grier, Stu Barnes and Sami Pahlsson.

Why does any of this matter?

To me, the Selke voting's indicative of a lot of misinformation out there. Coaches, the good ones anyway, know what a great defensive forward is. There's a reason, after all, that they allocate every minute — even strength, man up or down — the way they do, and that helps separate the Bowmans from those on the unemployment line.

Shouldn't the media — and, by extension, the fans — know, too?
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19 Comments:

At 11:21 AM, June 14, 2008, Blogger Jawsh said...

I feel that Jordan Staal should've come in higher than he did. His work on the PK unit carried the pens at times.

 
At 12:28 PM, June 14, 2008, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

Whoever voted for Doug Weight should be shot.

 
At 2:05 PM, June 14, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sean Avery?

Brendan Shanahan?

(insert confused emoticon here)

At least Sergei Fedorov has been known as a solid defensive forward during his career, if not deserving this year.

 
At 2:11 PM, June 14, 2008, Blogger Mr.Poindexter said...

Valtteri Filppula will be among the top ten defensive forwards in the league within a year or two. Helm looks like the real deal, also.
Why is Draper in two spots on the list?

 
At 2:39 PM, June 14, 2008, Anonymous TheTick said...

Derek Roy is a very solid forward at both ends of the ice, not that I'd put him up for the Selke. He was one of the few bright spots for the Sabres this year.

And I'm not just saying that because I sponsor Roy at Hockey Reference.

 
At 2:49 PM, June 14, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WTF: Jarret Stoll got a vote?

The guy was benched at one point and had a terrible year. Look at his EV stats.

Ridiculous.

 
At 2:54 PM, June 14, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alex Burrows name is also on the list twice! Who is doing the tabulating here - Del Baggio & Company? Perhaps the NBA refs Association?

 
At 3:12 PM, June 14, 2008, Blogger Doogie said...

To me, the Selke voting's indicative of a lot of misinformation out there. Coaches, the good ones anyway, know what a great defensive forward is. There's a reason, after all, that they allocate every minute — even strength, man up or down — the way they do, and that helps separate the Bowmans from those on the unemployment line.

So wouldn't it make more sense simply to have the 30 head coaches do the voting, the way the GMs (for whatever reason) vote on the Vezina?

 
At 3:18 PM, June 14, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hitch might play Nash in defensive situations, and Lemaire uses Fridge in PP, but Nash couldn't spell defence if his life depended on it.

He is clueless coming to his own end. Have you seen him backcheck? I mean he probably moves faster to cash his paycheck.

Having said that (=stolen from Bob McKenzie)I just love Nash as a player. I don't care if he doesn't know his goalies by name as long as he keeps scoring those unreal goals.

Huge man with surgeon's hands.

 
At 3:57 PM, June 14, 2008, Anonymous Ryan said...

Draper's on the list twice, as someone else mentioned. And Fedorov a non-defensive forward? He's a previous Selke winner.

By my count, nine Red Wings on that list. For those keeping score at home, that means only four Wings forwards who played at least 41 games didn't get a vote: Holmstrom, Drake, Kopecky, and Downey. Wow.

I think the reason coaches (and GMs, to a lesser extent) shouldn't vote is because it's too hard for them to follow both conferences.

 
At 4:59 PM, June 14, 2008, Blogger Heather B. said...

I'm just here to repeat TheTick. I wouldn't say Derek Roy is the best defensive forward in the league but I don't think it's ridiculous that he got a few votes tossed his way. He doesn't play the competition that Jochen Hecht and Jason Pominville do but I think he probably could and he's developing into a very good penalty killer. I would definitely not call him a non-defensive forward.

(That said, Hecht and Pominville should clearly be getting any Buffalo Selke votes.)

 
At 5:04 PM, June 14, 2008, Blogger Nick said...

and, by extension, the fans — know, too?

I dunno, I watched a lot of hockey this year and read a lot of blogs, but I'd be hard pressed to come up with a list of defensive forwards outside of the Wings division... And forget about the eastern conference, I almost never see those teams play.

 
At 6:19 PM, June 14, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

What I meant by that was that, if there were accurate media reports and analysis on the topic, fans would be more well informed, etc.

 
At 7:58 PM, June 14, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the reason coaches (and GMs, to a lesser extent) shouldn't vote is because it's too hard for them to follow both conferences.

Maybe just have the coaches vote on their own conference and award one award for each conference - baseball has AL and NL ROY, MVP, and Cy Young awards.

At least it would give the Eastern conference defensemen something before Lidstrom retires. :)

 
At 8:06 PM, June 15, 2008, Blogger poploser said...

Not a Ranger in the top 50...and barely any credible ones in the entire list...

Hmmm...maybe Lundqvist should have won the Vezina after all ;)

 
At 8:10 PM, June 15, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Drury's in 12th spot there.

 
At 8:34 PM, June 15, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's interesting how the GM's and the writers see things differently. There's Brodeur with the Vezina voted by the GM's, and Nabokov with the first all star team as voted by the writers. According to Bob McKenzie who did an informal poll of GM's after the regular season, Henrik Zetterberg would have been the runaway winner of the Selke, not Datsyuk as voted by the writers.

 
At 9:55 AM, June 16, 2008, Blogger poploser said...

Drury's in 12th spot there.

Well there goes my joke.

 
At 7:44 PM, June 16, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just have a quick comment on this: 9 Detroit Red Wings players were nominated. 4 of them only got a 5th place voite but I still find it significant.

 

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