With the retirement of the last Grind Liner in Kris Draper, I noticed something that I found very interesting: Draper won the Selke trophy in 2004.
Now understand first that my "feel" on the winner of the Selke over the last few years doesn't quite match the trophy's description of "best defensive forward" and more closely aligns with the descriptor "best two-way forward." Even if Draper did score 24 goals that season (definitely nothing to sneeze at), I never thought of him as the offensive or two-way powerhouse to rival Pavel Datsyuk and Ryan Kesler. Think about it: if Draper had a season like he did in 2003-2004 next season, could he possibly win the Selke trophy? Would he even be nominated?
Humor me for a minute and let's go through this thought experiment, even though probably none of you will take me seriously. Imagine that we have player X: we'll call him Jay McClement. Let's imagine (just for a second!) that he's superior defensively to Datysuk and to Kesler in every single way; hell, he even gets shifts on defense occasionally from his coach, he's so good. (Also imagine that there's some undisputed, quantifiable way to make such a claim.) But compared to the other two, McClement's offense is non-existent. If that scenario by some miracle played out next season, would McClement even get a nomination for the Selke, even though (again, just in this thought experiment!) he may be the best defensive forward in the league while also contributing next to no offense?
A similar thing can be said of the Norris trophy. Now while the award already defines itself as being for the best "all-around" defenseman in the league, thus removing explicitly the restriction to defense that the Selke supposedly holds on forwards, are we seeing a trend that favors offense among the defensive elite? Remember that just this past season, when the former Atlanta Thrashers were relevant for about two seconds, talk swirled about the possibility of Dustin Byfuglien being a Norris trophy candidate and possibly even winning the thing just based on his sheer offensive showing for the first part of the season. (Fortunately or unfortunately, he wasn't able to keep anywhere close to that pace throughout the season.) After the final candidates Nicklas Lidstrom, Zdeno Chara, and Shea Weber were announced for the Norris, some suggested that Lubomir Visnovsky should also have gotten at least a nomination because while he was considered "average" defensively, the argument went that his offense should have made up enough for whatever his play lacked in his own zone.
So what will or what should happen in the future? While it seems relatively clear-cut (to me, at least) on the Norris side of things that the voters for the trophy will still value defense no matter how earth-shattering on offense Visnovsky or Byfuglien or any other defenseman happens to be, I can't say with the same certainty that the Selke will or won't undergo either an implicit or explicit criteria change from "best defensive forward" to "best two-way forward." In a few years after Datsyuk and Kesler, will another forward ever win the Selke while scoring under (let's just say) 50 points?