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Should Henrique or Zajac have Received Selke Consideration

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Henrique and Zajac are two of the best defensive forwards in the league. But are they good enough to deserve Selke buzz?

Mike Stobe/Getty Images

I apologize in advance for the brevity of this article. Busy week and whatnot, also getting the data for this article took a little longer than I expected. Most of this article will be showing the data that I've assembled from War-on-IceHockey-Reference, and Hockey Abstract.

The Selke Trophy finalists were announced today and there were several maddeningly familiar names on the list.

The Professional Hockey Writers' Association is wildly and embarrassingly unimaginative when it comes to nominating Selke Finalists. In the last 8 years, only 4 players have won, with Patrice Bergeron and Pavel Datsyuk combining for 6 of them. But it's not just the winners. Look at the top 5 vote-getters from the last six years (From Hockey Reference)

2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010
1st Bergeron Bergeron Toews Bergeron Kesler Datsyuk
2nd Toews Kopitar Bergeron Backes Toews Kesler
3rd Kopitar Toews Datsyuk Datsyuk Datsyuk Staal
4th Backes Backes Kopitar Callahan Bergeron Toews
5th Datsyuk Hossa Backes Kelser Malhotra Bergeron

I mean ... come on! There are 30 cells in that table, and 26 of them are occupied by 6 guys (Bergeron, Toews, Kopitar, Backes, Datsyuk, Kesler). The conversation for the Selke probably went something like this:

Professional Hockey Writer Guy #1: Did you guys watch the forwards play defense at all?

Professional Hockey Writer Guy #2: **** I knew I forgot something! ....These guys are probably still good at defending right?

Guy #1: Sure ... not like anyone's gonna notice anyway.

Guy #2: HAHAHAHAHA

Guy #1. HAHAHAHAHA

(raucous aristocratic laughter)

So since the writers association clearly has fallen asleep at the wheel for the last half decade, I decided to see if the Devils fans are truly homers in touting Adam Henrique or Travis Zajac as Selke contenders, or if they have a point.

Even Strength Raw Totals

Name Patrice.Bergeron Adam.Henrique Ryan.Kesler Anze.Kopitar Travis.Zajac
ZSO%Rel -8 7.33 -16.29 -4.98 -7
HSCF%Rel 8.82 5.71 0.07 3.41 -2.5
HSCA60 9.79 9.22 11.04 9.86 10.24
SCF%Rel 9.71 2.28 2.78 3.05 -2.02
SCA60 25.37 22.62 23.19 23.6 25.42
CF%Rel 8.44 -0.34 0.51 1.63 -1.08
AB 37 37 47 46 23
GF%Rel 6.66 15.82 -1.61 14.33 8.46
GA60 2.06 2.09 1.98 1.79 1.77
FO%^ 56.36 44.18 58.99 52 51.84
TK 51 27 25 33 31

Even Strength Rankings Among the 5 Players

Name Patrice.Bergeron Adam.Henrique Ryan.Kesler Anze.Kopitar Travis.Zajac
ZSO%Rel 2 5 1 4 3
HSCF%Rel 1 2 4 3 5
HSCA60 2 1 5 3 4
SCF%Rel 1 4 3 2 5
SCA60 4 1 2 3 5
CF%Rel 1 4 3 2 5
AB 3 3 1 2 5
GF%Rel 4 1 5 2 3
GA60 4 5 3 2 1
FO%^ 2 5 1 3 4
TK 1 4 5 2 3
Average 2.3 3.2 3.0 2.5 3.9

Short Handed Raw Totals

Name Travis.Zajac Ryan.Kesler Adam.Henrique Patrice.Bergeron Anze.Kopitar
TOI/Gm 2.87 2.79 2.78 2.31 2.15
HSCA60 18.59 14.69 20.52 20.74 20.61
SCA60 42.33 43.8 45.42 45.97 47.5
CA60 87.24 104.19 94.11 91.93 98.84
GA60 4.86 3.26 4.65 7.6 6.64
FO%^ 40.5 52.45 42.39 50 48.91
TK 9 10 9 12 4

Short Handed Rankings Among the 5 Players

Name Travis.Zajac Ryan.Kesler Adam.Henrique Patrice.Bergeron Anze.Kopitar
TOI/Gm 1 2 3 4 5
HSCA60 2 1 3 5 4
SCA60 1 2 3 4 5
CA60 1 5 3 2 4
GA60 3 1 2 5 4
FO%^ 5 1 4 2 3
TK 3 2 3 1 5
Average 2.3 2.0 3.0 3.3 4.3

Catch-All Stats NHL Ranks

Patrice.Bergeron Adam.Henrique Ryan.Kesler Anze.Kopitar Travis.Zajac
DPS 33 6 19 1 24
DGVT 20 2 8 1 13

Catch All Stats Ranks Among the 5 Players (Same for both stats)

Patrice.Bergeron Adam.Henrique Ryan.Kesler Anze.Kopitar Travis.Zajac
5 2 3 1 4

Rankings Summary

Patrice.Bergeron Adam.Henrique Ryan.Kesler Anze.Kopitar Travis.Zajac
Catch All 5 2 3 1 4
SH 3.3 3 2 4.3 2.3
5v5 2.3 3.2 3.0 2.5 3.9
Average 3.5 2.7 2.7 2.6 3.4

Excel File of Data

SelkeAAtJ

Analysis

Both of our boys actually kept up pretty well with the crowd there and each edged out Patrice Bergeron in the crudely combined summary statistic of that last table and Henrique actually kept up with the leaders. Based on these stats, Kopitar is the clear advanced stats darling, Kesler is bar-none the best penalty killer in the league, and Henrique is just an overall solid defensive forward. The lack of a clear identity as a defensive player like the aforementioned players certainly works against him. As do some other factors.

Traditionally, the Selke winner is an offensive contributor despite the trophy's description of "the National Hockey League forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game." No Selke winner has scored less than 50 in a full length season since 2003-2004. Typically, the Selke winner is also very good in the faceoff circle. I'm not entirely sure why this is other than the perception that winning a faceoff should drive possession which means the other team can't score. However, faceoffs don't really drive possession (source 1) (source 2) (source 3). Both of these ill-fitting prerequisites work against Henrique and Zajac.

ALL OF THAT BEING SAID, Henrique (and Zajac) probably deservedly was not nominated this year. Despite the lack of importance of the stat, a draw percentages of 44 and 40 at evens and PK respectively make Rico a liability in the circle in the defensive zone. Furthermore, the negative relative Corsi means we had better possession when he was off the ice. Now, his scoring chance numbers are better which means that the opponents possessions are inefficient, but more is expected from an award nominee. Even if Rico and/or Zajac deserved this over Bergeron, there are several other players (Joe Thorton, Tyler Toffoli, Brad Marchand, Jussi Jokinen) that would be less conventional, but similarly deserving nominees.

Your Thoughts?

Do you think one of our boys deserved a nomination? Who do you think will win? Who do you think SHOULD win? Are Selke Trophy voters really this lazy? Leave your thoughts below!