Philadelphia Flyers forward Sean Couturier has won the 2020 Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the game. He defeated Ryan O’Reilly of the St. Louis Blues and Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins. The NHL announced the award winner during the Conference Finals Thursday evening. This is his first time winning the Selke trophy.
Sean Couturier is your 2020 Selke Trophy Winner
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) September 10, 2020
Sean Couturier Wins Selke Trophy
All three were worthy of the award in 2019-20. Each was outstanding in various defensive metrics including EvolvingHockey’s xGA/60 and CA/60 (subscription required). Their defensive skills show up in an obvious way when you look at their Corsi For percentages. Couturier and Bergeron both posted Corsi Fors above 56 percent while O’Reilly’s was a respectable 51.8. That means that opponents had Corsi For percentages below 50 percent when they were on the ice. Defensive stats are still somewhat in development as hockey embraces analytics but the numbers that are out there show these three were some of the best defensive forwards in the game.
Couturier has been a guy that for a few years now fans have been yelling about. His defensive game was very underrated for a number of seasons. However, it now appears that he is finally getting some love for what he does on the ice. He is one of the hardest forwards to play against and it has been like that for a number of seasons now.
What This Means
This is great recognition for one of the league’s premier defensive forwards. Defensive stats outside of hits and blocks are still in infancy but advanced stats are making an increased effort to identity skaters capable of shutting opponents down efficiently. Some traditional fans may still find issues with Corsi and Fenwick but those stats have done a fantastic job illuminating aspect of modern hockey strategy. Advancements in player and puck-tracking data should help bring expected goals further into the conversation as well. There is nothing wrong with the traditional eye test but awards like the Selke will greatly benefit from advanced data in the coming years.