NHL Awards: Predicting the Selke Trophy winner in 2020

ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 6: Ryan O'Reilly #90 of the St. Louis Blues celebrates his first career hat trick against the Carolina Hurricanes at Enterprise Center on November 6, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 6: Ryan O'Reilly #90 of the St. Louis Blues celebrates his first career hat trick against the Carolina Hurricanes at Enterprise Center on November 6, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images) /

It takes a lot of talent to play hockey in the NHL. For the few forwards who excel at defense, there are the NHL awards. Who will win the Selke Trophy?

It’s a lot easier for most forwards to score in the NHL than it is to defend. It takes so much time to learn two-way hockey when you are used to dominating offensively in juniors or the minors. For the few that have mastered this art, the NHL awards reward them. Let’s talk about the Selke Trophy, for best defensive forward.

The odds to win the Selke Trophy according to sportsbettingdsime.com has Ryan O’Reilly as best bet, followed by Patrice Bergeron and Mark Stone. Vegas odds are often correct, but not always. Here’s my prediction for the Selke Trophy in 2019-20.

More from Puck Prose

Runner Up: Patrice Bergeron – Boston Bruins

I need you all to know something if you don’t already.  Patrice Bergeron has won the award four of the last eight seasons. He also been runner up four of the last eight seasons.  n case you’re bad at math, he has either won or been runner up every year during that time. Wow.

It’s like there is a spot on his mantle dedicated to the award. He knows the award may not be there now, but it will be eventually. The Boston Bruins got a gem when they drafted him as not only would he score, but he would also defend. Bergeron is the epitome of a two-way player.

Whether he is in the face-off circle, has the puck on his stick, is in the offensive zone or defensive zone, he is a threat at all times and the entire league knows it. He has already tied the record for most wins of all time. Although I’m not choosing him this year, it’s a matter of time until Bergeron breaks the all-time record, shared with legend Bob Gainey.

Runner Up: Mark Stone – Vegas Golden Knights

In some ways, I can’t believe Mark Stone has not won this award yet. While it is a rarity for a non-center to win the award, it has been done before. Since its inception in 1978, the Selke has gone to a left wing five times and a right wing four times.

Many people know that Stone is the takeaway king in the NHL, but last season, he really displayed his Selke prowess. Although he didn’t have the face-off ability that plays such a big role, he was the only forward to have at least 70 blocked shots and over 55 takeaways; which he led the league in the latter with 122.

After making the move from Ottawa to the Vegas Golden Knights, I’m certain that Stone will only get better if that is possible. He is a constant offensive threat too. Just ask every goalie he scored on. He set career highs in goals and points and one day, he’ll take the silverware home.

Wild Card: Connor McDavid – Edmonton Oilers

Though it almost never happens that the best offensive player takes the Selke, it has happened.  In 1994, Sergei Fedorov took home both the scoring title and the Selke Trophy. Connor McDavid has been tearing up the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers. He has never been less than a point per game and with the exception of his -1 plus-minus as a rookie, he’s always been in the positive.

It’s hard to look at what he does on the defensive side when his offensive side is so overwhelming. After all, he’s earned both the scoring title and MVP in half his NHL seasons so far. And after all, it’s hard to show your defense when you always have the puck. But, let me tell you a couple things about his defense that may surprise you.

With the Selke trophy, takeaways play a role and so does plus-minus when it comes to voting.  McDavid is one of only two forwards in the last three seasons to have at least 70 takeaways each time. He is also the only forward between the 2017 and 2018 seasons to have at least +20 both times. It probably won’t happen, but who knows? Maybe if he stops scoring, people will notice.

Winner: Ryan O’Reilly – St. Louis Blues

For once, I agree completely with the finalists from Vegas. The winner of last year’s award, Ryan O’Reilly will be hard to beat. Now firmly entrenched with the St. Louis Blues, his spot as king of the mountain is even higher than it ever was, and we saw that last season. Last season, he either set or matched nearly every offensive statistical category.

Just look at him in the face-off circle. No one has been better near his own goalie. O’Reilly is the only player to have over 675 defensive faceoffs over the last three seasons. Even with that quantity, he still was one of only two to have at least 500 defensive faceoffs and a top-five face off percentage over the last three seasons. And he did it twice.

Every Team's Mount Rushmore. dark. Next

Aside from his scoring touch and killer instinct in the circle, he finished fourth last season in takeaways, with 94, despite only giving away the puck a measly 33 times. Every night, he logs heavy minutes and can beat you just about every way you can think of; and he does it cleanly. The Selke will go to Ryan O’Reilly this year and many years in the future.