Centers Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings, Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks and Mike Richards of the Philadelphia Flyers are the three finalists for the 2008-09 Frank Selke Trophy, awarded to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game, the National Hockey League announced today.
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association submitted ballots for the Selke Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced on Thursday, June 18 during the 2009 NHL Awards broadcast live from the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel Las Vegas on VERSUS in the United States and on CBC in Canada.
Datsyuk, a Selke finalist for the second consecutive season, is also a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy (skill and sportsmanship). He became just the second player in NHL history to capture both awards last season, following Pittsburgh's Ron Francis in 1995, and could become the first to sweep them in consecutive years. Datsyuk ranked second among NHL players in takeaways with 89, placed third in plus-minus with a +34 rating and won 56% of his face-offs (636 of 1,135).
Kesler has been voted an NHL Awards finalist for the first time after helping the Canucks to the fourth-best defensive record in the Western Conference and seventh in the NHL overall with 220 goals-against. The speedy center led the team in takeaways (74), ranked first among its forwards in shorthanded ice time per game (3:19) and was second to Henrik Sedin in average ice time for all situations (19:27). He also scored a pair of shorthanded goals, posted a +8 rating and won a team-best and career-high 54% of his face-offs (527 of 976).
Richards, an NHL Awards finalist for the first time, led Flyers forwards in average ice time per game (21:44) and ranked second on the team in plus-minus (+22). He led the NHL with seven shorthanded goals (tying a franchise record) and nine shorthanded points. His 3-on-5 goal against the New York Rangers on Feb. 15 made him the first player in NHL history to score three career goals with his team two men down. Richards went on to score shorthanded goals in three consecutive games (Feb. 15-21), the first NHL player in more than a decade to do so (Colorado's Joe Sakic, Oct. 15-24, 1998).