Sean Couturier once again proved his case for the Selke Trophy. Did he finally do enough to win it?
It’s that time of year again. The time where Sean Couturier is in the Selke Trophy discussion once again. And it is yet again another year where the Flyers forward deserves to take home the award. The question remains if the Professional Hockey Writers Association feels the same.
When polled in January, Couturier came out on top as the clear favorite to win so the voters felt that thus far, he had done enough. He won the award over other favorites in Patrice Bergeron and last year’s winner, Ryan O’Reilly.
The Selke Trophy is simply. It recognizes the forward with the best two-way game. So essentially the forward who can hold his own on both offense and defense. Some also look at it as just the defensive side of the game. For argument’s sake, we’ll take a look at both sides of the game.
Couturier will be our main focus, but we will look at the seasons of players such as Bergeron and O’Reilly. They are typically the other names looked at in the best defensive forward category.
We’ll start with the point totals, though that is not where the case for the Selke can truly be made. Couturier finished among the top three in goals, assists, and points. He was third in goals (22), tied for second in assists (37) and second in points (59). The totals are way down from what he put up offensively last season.
But as we mentioned, his Selke case is not based on offensive production alone. However, being among the top scorers on his team won’t hurt his cause. Couturier had the four highest points-per-60 total at 2.59. More often than not, he was the secondary assists on goals, coming in third with an A2/60 of 0.96. That leads us to believe he drives play well.
That is more evident in his team-leading 56.25 CF% at even strength. He’s at 57.93% during all strengths, good for fifth on the team. He’s not necessarily high in the expected-goals percentage, but his 54.86 xGF% is still in an acceptable range. Couturier is on the ice for a goal more often than one against, explained by his 59.24 GF%.
Minutes played and games appeared in are also huge factors. It goes to show which players were trusted the most on a game to game basis. Couturier grades out well in this category. He averages just under 20-minutes per game (19:49) and has played a total of 1368:22. That is the most time on ice among Flyers forwards in both categories. He has also appeared in all 69 games for the Flyers this season.
O’Reilly is Couturier’s biggest competition for this award. He grades out similarly in every category we mentioned above. O’Reilly does have Couturier beat in points (61), but not by much. He has a much bigger lead in assists (49).
O’Reilly was just under in PPG as he averages 2.51 Points/60. The assists totals are better as he is typically the primary assist with a 1.11 A1/60. though he holds a 0.9 A2/60 as well. He scored at a lesser rate than Couturier, coming out to a 0.49 G/60.
While O’Reilly does drive play well, it’s at a lesser rate. His 53.51 CF% ranks fourth among teammates to appear in a similar amount of games. It moves to third depending on how close you consider MacKenzie MacEachern’s 51 games to O’Reilly’s 71.
Despite his lower goal total, O’Reilly’s play-driving ability has him third on the team with a 54.3 xGF%. His goals-for and against per-60 are highly rated as well. His GF/60 sits at 3.07 while his GA/60 is at 1.96.
O’Reilly has been a workhorse once again for the Blues, spending 1457:49 minutes total on the ice this season. That comes out to just over 20 minutes per game. That is the most among Blues forwards.
Bergeron takes the biggest hit out of the group in his Selke case. The offense is there per usual with his 31 goals and 25 assists. Though his point total is below both Couturier and O’Reilly. That can be explained by the games he has missed due to injury. Which is something that could hurt his case depending on if durability is a big factor or not.
Sticking offensively first, Bergeron is one of the players that the offense runs through for the Bruins. He is second only to David Pastrnak with a 1.63 G/60. He comes out third with a 2.94 Points/60. Bergeron is scoring goals himself more than he is assisting on them, evident by his 0.58 A1/60.
The play-driving ability is there, of course. He grades out better than the two above with a 57.26 CF%. He is up there in expected goals as well (57.40 xGF%). It’s minutes played that puts him significantly below the other two.
Bergeron has been on the ice for a total of 1142.42 minutes. That comes out to just under 19 minutes per game (18:44). That’s third among Bruins forwards. He has also played in just 61 games.
So based on the stats above, it appears that it is a two-man race between Couturier and O’Reilly. You could throw some other names into the mix. Mark Stone has had an increasingly loud fan base behind him for this award. Anthony Cirelli is also a name that has been thrown out.
But in the end, it will likely be between Couturier and O’Reilly if the NHL is to hand out awards. That will all depend on if/when the season is to resume and in what capacity.
All stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick and Evolving Hockey.