King Kopitar: LA's dark horse nominee does everything but the laundry at a high level. (Kevork Djansezian/AP)
By Allan Muir
Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins, Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks were named this morning as the three finalists for the 2013-14 Frank J. Selke Trophy. The award, which is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, goes to "the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game."
The winner will be announced on Tuesday, June 24.
Here's what the NHL had to say about the three illustrious finalists:
Patrice Bergeron, C, Boston Bruins
Bergeron led the NHL in face-off wins with 1,015 -- the most by any player during the past seven seasons -- as the Bruins posted the best defensive record in the Eastern Conference and second-best in the league overall (2.08 goals-against per game). He ranked second in the NHL in plus-minus with a career-high +38 rating and led all Bruins forwards in average ice time played shorthanded (1:57 per game). Bergeron is a Selke Trophy finalist for the third consecutive season; he captured the award in 2012 and finished runner-up to Jonathan Toews in 2013.
Anze Kopitar, C, Los Angeles Kings
Kopitar appeared in all 82 regular season games and logged more ice time (1,712:45) than all NHL forwards except Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby for the club that allowed a league-low average of 2.05 goals per game. The stellar Slovenian also logged the most shorthanded time (164:53) among the league's top-30 scorers, led the Kings and tied for fourth in the NHL in plus-minus with a career-high +34 rating, and won 53.3% of his 1,451 face-offs. Kopitar is a Selke Trophy finalist for the first time and becomes the first player in Kings franchise history to garner a nomination for the award.
Jonathan Toews, C, Chicago Blackhawks
Chicago's captain placed fifth in the NHL in both face-off wins (884) and percentage (57.2) while taking 1,544 draws, nearly double the total of the next Blackhawks center. He topped all Chicago forwards in average ice time per game (20:28) and ranked second on the club in takeaways (51) and plus-minus (+26), including a cumulative +7 against top Western Conference rivals Anaheim, Colorado, St. Louis and San Jose. A Selke finalist for the third time in four years, the Toews is seeking a repeat win after capturing the award for the first time in 2012-13.
We say: All three of these nominees are richly deserving. They're leaders of men, role models for children, and the sort of guy you'd want your daughter to date. They play the game the right way no matter what metric you use. It's a pick 'em ... but honestly, we'd like to see Kopitar take home the hardware if only because he never has fully received his due even after leading his team to the Stanley Cup in 2012. Like Bergeron, Kopitar excels in so many subtle ways that he has to be seen repeatedly to truly appreciate just how much he does out there. Fortunately, the new schedule format brought him to every building this season, giving voters more opportunities to watch him without gutting their sleep schedule. And if they didn't see enough, maybe they were swayed by the fact that he played the hardest defensive minutes on the league's top defensive team. There's no perfect advanced stat, but that one is pretty compelling.