The Professional Hockey Writer’s Association has revealed its second set of award nominations, following last week’s Masterton Trophy. The three finalists for the Selke Trophy--awarded to the league’s best defensive forward—are Boston’s Patrice Bergeron, Chicago’s Jonathan Toews, and Toronto’s Zach Hyman.
Revered two-way centre Patrice Bergeron needs no introduction, having won the award three times previously. With his regular running mate Brad Marchand, Bergeron has led the Bruins with steady production and elite possession numbers. Perhaps most impressive, Bergeron is a model of consistency—if you pro-rate the lockout year, this is his eighth season over 50 points.
Jonathan Toews, after a rocky start, has roared back in the second half of the season to re-establish himself as one of the game’s elite centres. Like Bergeron, he boasts outstanding possession numbers, and is a prior winner, having taken the award in 2013. Toews combines quality point totals with impressive shot generation.
Leaf fans will be most excited about the recognition given to Toronto rookie Zach Hyman, nominated in his first full season. As with the prior two nominees, Hyman has put up outstanding possession numbers, functioning as a top-tier forechecker and elite defensive presence on his line with Auston Matthews and William Nylander—a line that produces more scoring chances for than any other in the NHL.
But Hyman has also made his presence felt shorthanded. He’s the leading forward on the Leafs’ top ten ranked penalty killing unit, and is second in the league in shorthanded goals (with 4, behind only Nashville’s Victor Arvidsson.) While the decline of Los Angeles C Anze Kopitar certainly opened the door for his nomination, Hyman broke through all on his own.
“He’s been overcoming barriers his whole career,” Toronto coach Mike Babcock said, referencing the Leafs’ recent game against the Florida Panthers, in which Hyman gritted out a goal and an assist. “You saw him the other night, especially on the penalty kill. Bloodied, but he stays with it right to the end of the play.”
Zach Hyman’s rookie season has been filled with memorable firsts. Now he has another. The NHL awards will take place in Las Vegas, Nevada, on June 27.