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NHL Awards

O'Reilly adds to accolades with Selke Trophy after Cup victory with Blues

Honored as best defensive forward, was playoff MVP

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / Columnist

LAS VEGAS -- Ryan O'Reilly isn't underrated anymore.

The St. Louis Blues center won the Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward at the 2019 NHL Awards presented by Bridgestone on Wednesday, a week after he won the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

He was runner-up for the second straight year for the Lady Byng Trophy for sportsmanship and ability, which he won in 2014.


[RELATED: O'Reilly wins Selke Trophy | NHL Awards coverage]


"To have my name on these trophies, it's a dream come true," he said. "Growing up watching it, to be a part of it is something amazing. That's why I want to enjoy it."

O'Reilly said he wanted to be like Selke winners such as Patrice Bergeron, Pavel Datsyuk and Anze Kopitar. He spent years earning a reputation as a top two-way center, strong on face-offs, counted on in every situation.

But the Professional Hockey Writers' Association never voted him higher than sixth for the Selke until this, his 10th NHL season. He had 1,001 points and 48 first-place votes. Vegas Golden Knights forward Mark Stone was second with 881 points and 42 first-place votes. Bergeron, the Boston Bruins center who won the Selke in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2017, was third with 809 and 31.

Video: O'Reilly on winning the Selke Trophy

"He's the type of player any team would want," Bergeron said of O'Reilly. "He does everything right, and he deserves all the credit he's getting."

Last season, O'Reilly was an NHL career-worst minus-23 for the Buffalo Sabres, who finished last in the League. He missed the playoffs for the seventh time in nine seasons.

The Sabres traded him to the Blues on July 1. Again, he went through hard times. The Blues replaced coach Mike Yeo with Craig Berube on Nov. 19 and were last in the League on Jan. 3. But they started rookie goalie Jordan Binnington on Jan. 7, and the rest is history.

O'Reilly was an NHL career-best plus-22 and won 1,086 face-offs, leading the League for the second straight season. He also tied his NHL career high in goals (28) and set career highs in assists (49) and points (77). He had 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) in the playoffs, tying Bruins forward Brad Marchand for the lead.

"Look at where I was last year to now," O'Reilly said. "It's just amazing how things can change."

After defeating the Bruins 4-1 in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in Boston, the Blues came marching into a crowd of an estimated 500,000 at their parade in St. Louis on Saturday.

"We all were rock stars," O'Reilly said. "It was crazy. Just walking, people reaching out trying just to touch you. It was just, 'Oh, my god. We're famous now.' I think that's the beauty of winning in that city. I think that we all on the plane home were like, 'We're going to be legends in St. Louis.' We just all felt like we did do something amazing, but in this city that loves their hockey and supports it the way they do, we're excited that we're going to have something special with that group of people for the rest of our lives."

Armstrong was runner-up for General Manager of the Year, Binnington for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. Berube finished third for the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year.

Near the end of the show at the Mandalay Bay Events Center sports and entertainment complex Wednesday, they came on stage with owner Tom Stillman and the Stanley Cup as the victory anthem "Gloria" played with blue and yellow confetti flying. O'Reilly spoke on their behalf, thanking the city and the fans of St. Louis for sticking with the team and calling the celebration above and beyond anything the Blues could have imagined.

"We still can't believe it, but we did it together," he said. "Thank you, St. Louis. It's the coolest thing in the world."

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