by PuckStopsHere on 03/24/09 at 02:47 AM ET
From the beginning of the season, I have been picking Mikko Koivu of the Minnesota Wild as the Selke Trophy leader. In the last little while, his lead has been shrinking. Koivu continues to play in all the toughest defensive situations for the Wild, but his success in preventing goals is dropping as the Wild struggle to make the playoffs. When he suffered a knee injury in Sunday’s 3-0 win over Edmonton it looked like a reasonable time to pick a new leader.
My selection is Mike Richards of the Philadelphia Flyers. Like Koivu, Richards plays a lot of minutes (Richards is fourth among forwards in ice time per game and Kivu fifth). Richards is successfully playing against his opponent’s top players and preventing them from scoring. Despite playing against the toughest quality of opposition of any Flyer player with significant ice time, Richards has a team leading +22 +/- rating.
An often cited stat to make Richards case as the best defensive forward is his league leading seven short handed goals. This is a poor justification for a Selke nomination (or win). All it shows is that Richards scores goals in what is normally a defensive situation. He could be doing this by abandoning defence (which is what the Selke Trophy is for). In Richards’ case he isn’t. His defensive stats on the penalty kill are also very good. They might make a better argument for a Selke Trophy, if there was a more standard way to report them that more people understood.
Mike Richards takes over as my leader for the Selke Trophy as Mikko Koivu has suffered a knee injury. Since the season is drawing to a close, this is likely to make Richards the candidate I support for the post-season presentation of the award.
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