via Last Word on Hockey, by Griffin Schroeder (Associate Editor)
We’ve now reached the halfway point for all teams in the National Hockey League. There has been exciting storylines and great individual performances during the season. Through these contenders for awards have started to emerge. Last Word on Hockey has made their picks for each, and here are the Selke Trophy choices. The Calder Trophy was the last in the series.
Last Word on Hockey’s Mid-Season Awards: Selke Trophy
Though Bergeron’s offensive numbers until recently have been quite meager coming off of a 32-goal, 68-point season, he again has shown dominance in what he has been known for in his entire career, the 200-foot game. His five consecutive top-two finishes for the Selke, winning it three times in that span, is a testament to that. Among players that have taken at least 500 face-offs and have played in at least 25 games, he ranks fourth in the league in winning percentage at an even 58%. All he does to complement his defensive stature is place first among forwards in Corsi-against per 60 minutes (43.30), third in Fenwick-against per 60 (33.52), second in shots allowed per 60 (23.52), and second in expected goals against per 60 at 1.74.
He is the best possession driver to play at least 25 contests, coming in at a cool 61.85% Corsi-for percentage, including a +8.8 rating relative for shot attempts when he’s on the ice to rank fourth among NHLers. Bergeron’s bound to have a big second half with the puck possession he generates as well as the shots on net, firing 164 to place third in the league behind Alex Ovechkin and Brent Burns averaging 3.7 per contest. He’s starting to get it going offensively, totalling four goals and eight points in the past ten games after going the first 34 with just five markers and ten points.
Yes, Kopitar is struggling mightily in terms of offense in his first season after signing an eight-year, $80 million contract. He has scored four goals and 24 points in the first 38 games. There are rumors of him playing through injury. However, like Bergeron, Kopitar has seen a gradual rise in offensive production over the past few contests, totalling one goal and seven points in the past four.
The reigning Selke winner has not regressed in playing a big part in other areas, too. For one, he leads the team in penalty killing time, helping them to the ninth-best killing rate in the league at 83.2%. The 29-year-old leads by example in shot suppression on the best team in limiting shots against (25.8 per game), as individually his 23.77 shot attempts per 60 minutes places fourth in the NHL, one spot behind Bergeron. In other areas, Kopitar among forwards sits third in Corsi-against per 60 (45.25) and fourth in Fenwick-against (34.02).
The Carolina Hurricanes seem to finally be treading towards winning hockey, and it’s no coincidence that Staal is a big factor in that. For starters, his 57% Corsi-for among players that have logged at least 25 games is ninth in the NHL. And his 59% face-off winning percentage among players that have taken at least 550 draws ranks second in the league. His 35.60 Fenwick-against per 60 minutes also ranks tenth among all forwards. On the league’s best penalty kill, head coach Bill Peters has trotted Staal out for 55:58 to rank fourth among Canes forwards, and he’s missed seven more games than his teammates ahead of him.
Offensively, Staal has taken his brother’s longtime spot in the middle on the second line and has potted nine goals and 23 points in 37 contests. Two of his markers were game winners. He’s right on pace with his career average, topping out at 50 points in ’11-12. Staal has been in the Selke conversation before with his two-way play, earning a top-three finish in 2009-10, eighth place in ’11-12, and 13th place just last season. He’s earning his due this season, a theme of the resurgence of the Hurricanes who sit right in the thick of things in terms of playoff contention.
Another one of the more underrated talents in the game, Granlund’s game at all aspects is bursting onto the scene this season. His 36 points rank second on the Wild, nine away from his career-high set last season. In terms of expected goals against per 60 minutes when he’s on the ice, the soon-to-be 25-year-old ranks fifth in the NHL, third among forwards, with a 1.79 mark.
A four-time top-three finisher in the voting and one-time winner, Kesler again is in the conversation with his all-around play. Forming the most formidable line on the Ducks with Andrew Cogliano and Jakob Silfverberg, the 32-year-old has taken the most draws in the league and has the fourth-best winning percentage among center who have taken 700 draws or more. In a down year for Corey Perry in terms of scoring goals, he’s carried the load offensively totalling 18 goals and 38 points to lead the Ducks in the latter category. His 2.11 expected goals against per 60 minutes tops the team and ranks 23rd among all forwards.
Known as an underrated offensive juggernaut with 36 points through 47 contests so far coming off of a 78-point campaign, Wheeler has a defensive side to his game that stands out. He places tenth among forwards in terms of expected goals against per 60 minutes (2.01), 15th in terms of Fenwick-against per 60 minutes (36.51), and 10th in Corsi-against per 60 minutes. His big frame (6’5″, 225 lbs) is used for more than just generating offense.