NEW YORK - Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks, Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings and Mike Richards of the Philadelphia Flyers were named finalists for Frank Selke Trophy on Tuesday.
The award is given to the league's top defensive forward and the three centres certainly qualify. The winner will be announced June 18 at the NHL's awards ceremony in Las Vegas.
Kesler led the Canucks in takeaways (74), ranked first among forwards in short-handed ice time per game (3:19), scored a pair of short-handed goals, posted a plus-8 rating and won a team-best 54 per cent of his faceoffs (527 of 976).
Datsyuk, also a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy for skill and sportsmanship, is looking to become the first player to sweep both awards in consecutive seasons. Ron Francis, back in 1995, is the only other player to claim both awards in the same year.
Datsyuk ranked second among all NHLers with 89 takeaways, was third with a plus-34 rating and won 56 per cent of his faceoffs (636 of 1,135).
Richards led all Flyers with a plus-22 rating was tops in the NHL with seven short-handed goals. On Feb. 15, he became the first player in NHL history to score three career goals with his team down two men when he did it against the Rangers.