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Selke Trophy tracker: Unsung Malhotra gets nod

by Dave Lozo
Pavel Datsyuk generally doesn't have the reputation of a greedy fellow, but he's shown little willingness to share the Frank J. Selke Trophy, awarded annually "to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game." The talented forward for the Detroit Red Wings has won the award three years running, barely edging out Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks this past season.

The run could be coming to an end for Datsyuk, who faces his fair share of challengers through the quarter mark of the 2010-11 season. They include one of Kesler's teammates, a young player in Philadelphia who you probably know much better for his offense and the captain of the defending Stanley Cup champions.

There's still plenty of time for Datsyuk to strut his stuff at both ends of the ice and earn another nod as a Selke finalist, but to this point here's how's David Lozo sees the field shaping up.


Manny Malhotra, C, Vancouver Canucks -- He's the checking center in every coach's dreams. When the opposition throws its best offensive line on the ice, Alain Vigneault can match with Malhotra, who was been spectacular on the defensive side of the puck this season and can also contribute offensively (10 points in 20 games). His 19 blocked shots put him in the top 20 in the League among forwards and his 12 takeaways rank him third on the Canucks. He's won an astounding 61.8 percent of his faceoffs, ranking him first in the League among players who have taken at least 300 draws. Plus, he's bolstered the Canucks' penalty-killing unit since his arrival.


Claude Giroux, RW, Philadelphia Flyers -- The 22-year-old has shown the potential to usurp Pavel Datsyuk as the perennial contender for this award. Giroux, just like Datsyuk, is an offensive talent who minds his own zone. He is plus-6, on the ice for about 2:55 of shorthanded time per game, and has three shorthanded goals. The winger is no slouch in the faceoff circle, either.

Jonathan Toews, C, Chicago Blackhawks -- Again, not your prototypical defensive forward, but he's the team's No. 1 penalty-killing forward and has 24 takeaways, good for a fifth-place tie in the League. When it comes time for the all-important shorthanded faceoff, Toews has won 48-of-80 draws (60 percent) and, overall, he's winning faceoffs at almost the same rate.
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