– For the fifth consecutive season Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk
is a finalist for the Selke Trophy, given annually to the NHL’s best defensive forward in the game.
On Monday, the league announced the finalists for this year’s Selke, and it was no real surprise that the Russian center is again on the list. The Wings’ superstar is joined by Boston center Patrice Bergeron and St. Louis forward David Backes.
This season, a knee injury which required surgery in late February kept Datsyuk out of the lineup for 11 games. He returned in March and collected three goals with five assists and was a plus-3 rating.
Datsyuk and fellow Russian Sergei Fedorov (1994, 1996) are the only Wings’ forwards to win the Selke more than once. Datsyuk has done so three times from 2008-10. Steve Yzerman (2000) and Kris Draper (2004) also received the award.
Despite missing 12 games, Datsyuk still finished second in team scoring with 67 points, and first in assists (48). But his 19 goals was his lowest goal total since the 2002-03.
Between 2006-07 and 2009-10, Datsyuk was the only player to finish each season among the league’s top five in takeaways. He was first in three of the seasons, with 2008-09 being the lone exception when he was second to Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin.
Even with the knee injury, Datsyuk lead the NHL with 1.38 takeaways per game, finishing third with 97 steals, behind Chicago’s Jonathan Toews (99) and Colorado center Ryan O’Reilly (101).
Besides scoring at least 65 points for the seventh time in the last eight seasons, he returned to the league’s top 10 in faceoffs for the first time in three seasons, winning 56.2 percent, while taking 32 percent of all Wings’ faceoffs.
The 34th Selke recipient will be announced at the NHL Award Show on June 20 in Las Vegas. Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose