Mark Stone's playoff line in many ways reflects why he is a finalist for the Selke Trophy.
Stones leads the Stanley Cup Playoffs in goals (6), points (10) and takeaways (8). To date he has been the most complete player in the postseason and he was just as effective in the regular season upon which voters cast their Selke ballots.
Stone's unique mix of skills make him one of the most valuable players in the NHL and this was confirmed by the Professional Hockey Writers Association on Wednesday when he was announced as a Selke finalist along with Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins and Ryan O'Reilly of the St. Louis Blues.
"To be put into that class is pretty special for me," Stone said. "Looking back on all the guys who have won that award, Jonathan Toews, Patrice Bergeron, Anze Kopitar, these are elite, cream-of-the-crop players. It's a really cool day for me."
The Selke is awarded to the NHL forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.
In today's NHL, that player is an elite penalty killer, puck possession driver and at least a 50-point man. Stone ticks all those boxes and more.
He led the NHL in takeaways with 122 and the closest competition was Florida's Aleksandr Barkov back at 100.
Stone finished the regular season scoring 33 goals and 73 points and ranked first in expected goals-for percentage (xGF%) relative to teammates. When he was on the ice, his team received a +11.64% boost in expected goals. For every 60 minutes he's played, his teams are expected to outscore their opposition by 1.16 goals more than when he's off the ice.
Video: Stone Talks Selke Trophy
On the purely defensive side of the ledger, among forwards with 50+ points, Stone ranks #1 in relative Corsi-against per 60 minutes (Rel CA/60) which means he limits shots attempts against at the highest rate among forwards with 50+ points. Stone's offense is built on his defense. And his defense is built on his offense.
His excellent positional play and anticipation allow him to break up the other side's offense and kickstarts his own team's attack on the opposition goal.
Stone's ability to possess the puck in the offensive zone suppresses the opposition's shot attempts.
"As a younger player, I was never really fleet of foot. I had to learn little tricks to help me learn to become a better player," said Stone. "I had the outdoor rinks day after day in Winnipeg and they helped."
From a defenseman's perspective, Colin Miller said that having Stone on the ice helps the entire team and that it's much easier to play with him than against him.
"That's something that impressed a lot of us early on when he got here," Miller said. "He does the things that you don't really see on the defensive side but you really see it when he's on your team. He's great to have and he's pretty really hot this series so hopefully it continues."
Vegas traded for Stone at the trade deadline and he has transformed the Golden Knights from a middle of the pack club to a contender on the brink of eliminating the San Jose Sharks from the post-season.
Stone's linemates Max Pacioretty (10) and Paul Stastny (8) also sit in the top three in playoff scoring.
Vegas GM George McPhee's trade for Stone with the Ottawa Senators was the most impactful deal of the 2018-19 season. To gauge the weight of the trade and its subsequent value to Vegas, one can simply ask the question: Where would Vegas be as a team without Stone?
They were a middle of the pack team before they got him and became a contender upon his arrival. And through four games against a Sharks team which many have picked to represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup - Stone has been the best player in the series. On either side. If he keeps this pace up and Vegas continues winning in the post-season, Stone may find himself considered for even more NHL hardware.