The NHL announced the three finalists for the Frank J. Selke Trophy today and Detroit's own Pavel Datsyuk was named one of the three finalists.
Patrice Bergeron and Jonathan Toews round out the ballot for what the NHL describes as "an annual award given to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game."
Datsyuk, who won the Selke Trophy for three consecutive years from 2008 to 2010, had an impressive season both offensively and defensively. His 49 points was tops among Selke finalists and good for 10th overall in league scoring. He also posted an impressive +21 rating. While Datsyuk's plus/minus was lower than both Bergeron's and Toews', he managed to do it in a team whose overall goal differential was well worse than those of the other finalists' teams.
On top of those stats, Datsyuk played the toughest minutes among Detroit forwards, facing the toughest competition and taking a lower percentage of offensive zone faceoffs than any other center on the team. Couple that with the 1:26 of shorthanded ice time per game and Datsyuk was the Wings' go-to guy when it came to preventing the opposition from scoring.
I wrote about a month ago that Datsyuk, Bergeron, and Toews were the front-runners for the award, so it's no surprise that they were listed as the finalists, above guys like Anze Kopitar, David Backes, Jay McClement, and Boyd Gordon. At the time, I picked Datsyuk to finish third behind Bergeron, who I thought would win and Toews, who I thought might get hampered by a few uncontrollable factors.
I personally still feel that Bergeron will win the award. Boston's shut-down guy and the reigning Selke winner had a great season where he dominated competition a little better, played more PK and did so with better results, and won more faceoffs. He also has the momentum of having won it last season. The last two weeks of the season were an amazing stretch for Datsyuk and I think he pulled himself above Toews (in my estimation, but not in the voters' eyes), but I don't think he will get enough credit to pull off the Selke win.