The nominations for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, announced Wednesday by the NHL, should come as little surprise to fans of the Detroit Red Wings and anyone who watched the first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series between the Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks.
Pavel Datsyuk, who has won the award for three consecutive years, will have the opportunity at making it a four-peat, while Ryan Kesler and Jonathan Toews, who took turns checking one another into submission in a seven-game grudge match for the ages, round out this year's field.
The Selke is awarded annually "to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game" as judged by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association. Selke, its namesake, was an architect of championship teams in both Montreal and Toronto.
The award is voted on at the end of the regular season, so the writers don't get to take playoff performances into account, but Kesler and Toews displayed why they're up for consideration as the Canucks held off the Blackhawks' comeback from a 3-0 series deficit and a late shorthanded goal that forced Game 7 into overtime.