Written by WJWhite30
I know I am late to the party, but no one accuses me of finishing first (unless it is in the bedroom).
As many of you are aware, the Frank J. Selke trophy is awarded to the best defensive forward in that season. Aleksander Barkov beat out 10-time Selke finalist and 4-time winner, Patrice Bergeron, as well as Captain of the Craps Table, Mark Stone – not sure if he is a gambler, but the nickname just has a nice ring the Captain of Vegas.
Barkie also made NHL history as he is only the fifth player to win both the Lady Byng and the Selke in their career. Barkov won the Selke receiving 780 total points and 62 first place votes followed by Bergeron with 522 points and 15 first place votes and Stone who has 463 votes.
However, I want to throw out this hot take, did he truly deserve winning it or was it given to him to help promote an up-and-coming star on a small market team?
While doing my research, it is tough to say that this award is more than a judgment call and who the committee thinks is the prettiest girl at the party. I am not taking away what Barkov has done and is capable of doing; however, I am not sure his stats reflect the fact that he deserved to win.
Of the 3 finalists, he was only +12 compared to Bergeron being +27 and Stone +26. Did it help Barkov’s case that he probably had the weakest defensive and goaltending support of the 3? If you look at the season Flower put up in Vegas, did Fleury contribute to Stone’s +/-? Not to mention having Theodore and Pietrangelo on the backend. Same argument can be made for Bergeron who had guys like McAvoy defending the blue line and Tuuka in net.
Among his Panther’s teammates, Barkov finished first in takeaways with 39, second in blocked (37), and averaged 86 seconds of shorthanded ice time per game. All very impressive stats; however, nothing that screams a dead giveaway for running away with the Selke award.
Again, I am a firm believer that he is becoming one of the NHL’s elite, if you would not already consider him one. I am just posing the question of whether or not the league will favor the up-and-comer over the seasoned veteran to try to appeal to the youth; the guy from a small market team in order to grow the game in that region; or any other demographic which could help bolster the NHL’s appeal. This is comparable to people talking about the East Coast Bias when it seems as though the majority of the NHL’s voted on trophies come from the Easter Conference Teams.
I believe if you were to put Barkov on a team like Toronto, he would be a more revered player than someone like Mitchie Marner or Willy Nylander. Same with Boston, NYR, or any other well-established team with a deep fan base. As I said, I think he is on pace to become an elite player, but do you think he was truly the best defensive player in the league this season?