Kukla's Korner

The Puck Stops Here

Selke Trophy Leader

It can be tough to settle on a Selke Trophy leader in the first half of the season because defensive play is hard to quantitatively assess.  It is a tough judgement call to pick the best defensive forward in the league even when armed with a large array of hockey games watched and the best statistics available.  In the later part of November I picked Loui Eriksson of the Dallas Stars as the Selke Trophy leader.  Today my choice is Frans Nielsen of the New York Islanders.

Nielsen is a very good Selke choice.  He is a relentless defensive player who plays a thankless role on the Islanders.  He spends well over two minutes a game on the penalty kill.  He plays against the toughest opposition players.  He has a significant number of defensive zone starts.  While doing this he is quite successful.  He is one of the few New York Islanders players with game changing ability.

He probably is not a legitimate candidate to win the Selke Trophy because he is not a big scorer.  Thus far this season he has 13 points.  He plays on a weak New York Islander team that has only ten wins so far this year and sits in second last in the East Conference.  This hurts his puck possession numbers, for example his -1 +/- rating does not look particularly impressive until one realizes that only one other regular Islander has a higher +/- rating.  That player is Matt Moulson and does not play the tough defensive role Nielsen does.

I expect Nielsen can get named on several Selke Trophy ballots but not as a first place nominee.  As a result there is a good chance he will finish in the top ten finishers in the voting but not be among the nominees at the award show.  If Frans Nielsen played on a better team, I think his Selke candidacy would be seen as more serious and he might be a nominee.

Frans Nielsen is a very good defensive player who plays a very tough role successfully.  He is very valuable to his team despite not being a top scorer.  He is the kind of player who should win a Selke Trophy.  He probably will lose out to a higher scorer, which isn’t the right idea for the award.

Filed in: | The Puck Stops Here | Permalink
 

Comments

Avatar

While you are certainly entitled to your opinion on the abilities of Frans Nielsen, this article is very light on substance and/or context.  I think you could have supported your argument with more than just, “His plus-minus isn’t very good and he doesn’t score enough, therefore he probably won’t win.”

How about a little research?

Two players have actually won the award with a negative plus-minus: Montreal’s Bob Gainey with a -2 in 1979-80 (his third of a record four Selke titles) and Boston’s Steve Kasper with a ghastly -18 exactly 30 years ago in 1981-82.  So having a sterling plus-minus isn’t a prerequisite, but it’s been a long time since a guy with a minus won.  In the last 20 years, only one player has won the award with anything worse than a +10: Rod Brind’Amour did it with a +8 in 2005-06 and then again with a +7 in 2006-07.  In Brind’Amour’s second of back-to-back Selke wins, Carolina did not even make the playoffs.  So one could stand to reason that being on a winner isn’t necessarily a requirement either.  Although it seems like if you’re not on a winner, you better have some name brand equity from past successes.

Also, your assertion that not being a bigger scorer will cost Nielsen is light on facts as well.  Kris Draper won it with only 40 points in 2003-04 (although he did have 24 goals) and Rick Meagher of the Blues won it with only 25 points and a plus-4 in 76 games played in 1989-90.

So, being a significant scorer, having a great plus-minus or even being on a winning team are NOT requirements for winning the award, although possessing one or more of those qualities certainly does not hurt.

Overall, this website adds a ton of value to hockey fans everywhere, but sometimes I feel like there are too many contributions that are not held to any kind of standard.  Poor quality of writing, lack of a compelling argument, little to no facts.

I have no problem with your assertion that Frans Nielsen is a good player, but you should at least try defending the argument.  In fact, IF YOU HAD, you may have found out that Frans Nielsen could be more a Selke candidate than you ever thought possible.

Posted by Eric H. on 12/18/11 at 07:37 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

A brief look at the history of the Selke Trophy shows you that most winners are higher scoring defensive forwards.  The counter-examples are 20 or 30 years old.  There are a few players who have won with lower +/- ratings more recently like Brind’Amour, but he was scoring when he did it.  Things changed to make offense more important to the Selke voters in the 1990s when Doug Gilmour and Sergei Fedorov came along.  That change appears permanent.

There is no good example of a Selke winner who doesn’t score, without a good +/- on a team that doesn’t win.  Hence I think Nielsen will be an also ran.  I suspect somebody like Jonathan Toews will win (if the season plays out similarly to its start).  He scores and he plays good defence too.  Nielsen plays a tougher defensive role - since there is no need to put him in offensive roles as he isnt a scorer - and he has been very successful in them.

I don’t think looking at Rick Meagher or Steve Kasper has anything to say about today’s award.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 12/18/11 at 09:21 PM ET

DocF's avatar

Since I know this will be deleted by the author of the original blog, I will state the obvious.

The Selke will be won by an outstanding forward who happens to play defense.  At this remove, that would be either H. Zetterberg or P. Datsuyk of the Red Wings or Toews of the Blackhawks.  Everyone else is an also-ran.  These guys play defense like it was their main mission.  They also are top rank offensive threats. 

That is the real story and not something made up by someone who tries to quantify the immeasurable aspects of hockey.

Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL; was Reidsville, NC on 12/18/11 at 10:48 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

To some degree I agree with Doc’s point.  The Selke will almost certainly be won by a top offensive forward who also happens to play defence.  I think he over-credits the Red Wings naming two of his three candidates players on that team.  There are other strong candidates from other teams as well who will likely finish above one or both of the Wing players.

I think it is a poor way to giveo ut a defensive trophy if you must be an offensive success to have your defence noticed.  Often an offensive success does not get to play in all the defensive situations a player like Frans Nielsen does.

Quantitatively we can show that Nielsen spend more time on the power play than Zetterberg and Datsyuk combined.  That alone shows he is used in a more defensive role.  Defence can be quantified to a degree.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 12/18/11 at 10:57 PM ET

IwoCPO's avatar

I think he over-credits the Red Wings naming two of his three candidates players on that team.

Shocking

Posted by IwoCPO from Sunny San Diego, bitches on 12/19/11 at 12:40 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

OK Cheif

Let’s see if you think Doc over-creditted the Wing players.

For his statement not to be an over-credit, Datsyuk and Zetterberg both have to be among the top three players in the final Selke voting.  That would make them two of the three nominees.

I will bet you $100 that says they are not among the three Selke nominees.  If they are both among the 2012 Selke nominees, I pay you $100.  Otherwise you pay $100 to me.  If you don’;t think its a good bet then you think he is over-creditting your Wings.

Will you put your money behind your smartassed remarks?

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 12/19/11 at 12:47 AM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

Datsyuk will be in the top 3 this year regardless of his slow start. Zetterberg? Very unlikely ever again. The only year he was worthy was the year he was nominated. He’s still not ‘on’, but even when he is, he’s not as good at Datsyuk. I think the only thing Z is better at than Datsyuk is positioning.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 12/19/11 at 01:41 AM ET

Avatar

Why then does Babcock give Datsyuk the better ice time (i.e. better for offense)? He’s on record as having stated that with a 1 goal lead late in the game, he’s throwing out Zetterberg first up front, essentially (this was when both Datsyuk and Zetterberg were finalists).

I think Zetterberg is very underrated defensively, and I do think both Datsyuk and Zetterberg are top-5 defensive forwards in this league. There is no better defense than having the puck, and both those guys do an excellent job getting the puck from the other team and then keeping it in the offensive zone.

Posted by Ralph on 12/19/11 at 08:16 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

OK Cheif

Let’s see if you think Doc over-creditted the Wing players.

For his statement not to be an over-credit, Datsyuk and Zetterberg both have to be among the top three players in the final Selke voting.  That would make them two of the three nominees.

I will bet you $100 that says they are not among the three Selke nominees.  If they are both among the 2012 Selke nominees, I pay you $100.  Otherwise you pay $100 to me.  If you don’;t think its a good bet then you think he is over-creditting your Wings.

Will you put your money behind your smartassed remarks?

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 12/18/11 at 10:47 PM ET

By this logic, anybody who is considered a Selke Candidate who does not end up in the top three in Selke voting is being given too much credit.

If you’re confident in how much you like to credit things, I would gladly take a fake wager with you on whether Frans Nielsen will be a Selke finalist this season.

Not that I’m not confident in the assertion that your Selke pick is being overcredited in your article, it’s just that I never actually wager money on sports.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/19/11 at 08:33 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

No JJ you are wrong.  There is a significant difference between being the player I think is currently leading in a race and being a player I think will wind up a nominee.  I can think the player currently leading will not complete the season as well as he started or (as I do in this case) I can think the current leader will not get enough credit from the voters.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 12/19/11 at 08:38 PM ET

IwoCPO's avatar

I will bet you $100 that says they are not among the three Selke nominees.

As I’ve told you before, Mr. Hemingway, I rarely LOL, but when I do it’s almost always right at you. This is no exception.

You honestly believe I’d put up enough money to buy 14 12-packs of PBR, with the result of a wager hinging on a decision made by the NHL?  Jim Howard isn’t on the all star ballot. He’s not a top 18 goalie, according to the NHL (and you).  Why would I bet a cent on any decision or judgment made by this farce of a league?

If I were to bet something, it would be that you can’t go three posts without ridiculously omitting a Wing from your idiotic rankings based on stats you tailor to suit your own argument and completely contrary to whatever run-on BS you posted in this space the week prior.

And it’s Chief, not Cheif.  Just FYI.

Posted by IwoCPO from Sunny San Diego, bitches on 12/19/11 at 08:44 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

You are too much of a chicken to put your money where your mouth is?  Why am I not surprised?

Also I wish you did not misrepresent me.  I have never said Jim Howard is not a top 18 goalie.  That is your delusion.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 12/19/11 at 08:49 PM ET

IwoCPO's avatar

You are too much of a chicken to put your money where your mouth is?

Oh no you didn’t. We’ll be talking about this at recess.

Posted by IwoCPO from Sunny San Diego, bitches on 12/19/11 at 08:55 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Lets talk about it now.

Doc says the Selke trophy nominees will be people who can score - Datsyuk, Toews and Zetterberg. 

I respond that he has the right idea but there won’t be those two Wings nominated.

You call me out for my responce implying you think Datsyuk and Zetterberg will both be nominated - or else you are just being a blowhard which is a theory that fits the facts well.

I challenge you to put your money where your mouth is

You chicken out while trying to talk tough which adds credence to the blowhard theory.  You complain when people say true things about Detroit that you percieve as negative although deep down you agree with them.  You make it out as though they are persecuting Detroit - that is your act.  Obviously you don’t believe it is true or you would have enough guts to put money behind your mouth.

What part of the story is incorrect?

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 12/19/11 at 09:03 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

While we’re misrepresenting what people have said, can you point to me where Doc said anything different about Toews, Datsyuk, or Zetterberg than you said about Nielsen and what you’re challenging people to bet you on?

There is a significant difference between being the player I think is currently leading in a race and being a player I think will wind up a nominee.

Show me where Doc says that his three nominees “At this remove” are already finalists to show me the difference between what you’ve said and what he said.

Go ahead and show me.  I’ll wait.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/19/11 at 09:09 PM ET

IwoCPO's avatar

You call me out for my responce implying you think Datsyuk and Zetterberg will both be nominated

No, actually I can practically guarantee neither will be nominated. Just like Howard wasn’t nominated to be an All Star.

There is no act here, little guy.  And, really, please clarify what it is I agree with “deep down”. You lost me there.

There are a lot of things I’d bet on, but the whims of the NHL are not one of them. 

You sound angry. You should have some warm milk.

Posted by IwoCPO from Sunny San Diego, bitches on 12/19/11 at 09:10 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

PSH: You call me out for my responce implying you think Datsyuk and Zetterberg will both be nominated

IWO:No, actually I can practically guarantee neither will be nominated.

PSSH Then we agree with one another.  Which is my point all along.  You call people out for making statements you agree with if it can help your myth of them being against the Detroit Red wings.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 12/19/11 at 09:14 PM ET

IwoCPO's avatar

PSSH Then we agree with one another

I don’t know what “PSSH” means but we don’t agree. You believe they won’t be nominated because they don’t deserve it. I say they won’t be nominated because the league is a punchline. 

Type slower and breathe.  Try that warm milk.  Listen to “Cool Change” by the Little River Band before you reply.

Posted by IwoCPO from Sunny San Diego, bitches on 12/19/11 at 09:31 PM ET

Avatar

Iwo: NHL all-star balloting, as far as I know, is done by the league. The awards are usually the hockey writers (the Vezina the GMs).

Posted by Ralph on 12/21/11 at 01:51 AM ET

Add a Comment

Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.

Add your own avatar by joining Kukla's Korner, or logging in and uploading one in your member control panel.

Captchas bug you? Join KK or log in and you won't have to bother.

Smileys

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Feed

Most Recent Blog Posts

About The Puck Stops Here

imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

Why am I blogging? I want to.

Why are you reading it? ???

Email: y2kfhl@hotmail.com