It’s been as hot of a topic as the season he is having. After being in the conversation for years, without the offensive numbers to back it up, Sean Couturier is rightly where he belongs, in the final three for the Frank J. Selke Award. Each year, the trophy is awarded to the best two-way forward in the NHL, and that man, this year, is Sean Couturier.
Couturier is having an outstanding year, finally centering the top line between Giroux and a myriad of others. He potted 31 goals, and added 45 assists for a total of 76 points, along with 74 hits, 44 blocked shots, and 48 takeaways all in an average of 21:36 per night. Those are all career highs, minus the hit category.
His running mates for the award are reigning Selke winner Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins, and Los Angeles Kings captain Anze Kopitar. Bergeron missed 18 games due to an injury, but still managed to put up 63 points, and steady defensive numbers (48 hits, 42 blocked shots, and 55 takeaways). As long as he is healthy, he poses a threat to any forward looking to grab the award away from him.
Kopitar, on the other hand, played all 82 games, and put up 92 points, with 50 hits, 64 blocks, and 54 takeaways. His numbers speak for themselves. Kopitar is no stranger to the Selke Award as well, having won it 2 years ago. Kopitar would appear to be the favorite this year due to most of his numbers being better than Couturier and Bergeron, but there are factors that come into play other than just statistics.
If you look at the past few seasons, Couturier’s defensive game has always been on par with many of the finalists to this award. This year gave us a glimpse of the offensive capabilities of the six foot three Flyers center. Couturier is capable of putting up some stellar offensive numbers, as he exhibited during his tenure in the QMJHL where he put up consecutive 96 point seasons. This seems to only be the beginning for Coots, now that he has unlocked his potential on the offensive side of the puck.
But enough with the stats. Lets get to the intangibles. Couturier deserves this award in big part due to the competition he faces within the division. When you play against players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, John Tavares, and Taylor Hall, just to name a few, you have to be on your game every single night. The fact that Sean Couturier can compete with these names, and still put up the points that he did this season, that speaks volumes towards his case for the Selke.
Of course, Bergeron isn’t playing against any slouches either, nor is Anze Kopitar. However, the sheer amount of talent in the Metropolitan division is just outstanding. To be able to go up against those names night in and night out, and still produce, is pretty damn impressive.
Sure, whoever judges these awards will stake a heavy claim of their decision making on the stats these three put up. Rightfully so. However, if there were ever a criterion that mattered, level of competition should be a very telling category as to who really deserves this award. Compiled with the stats he put up, Sean Couturier faced the hardest competition of the three, and still put up comparable numbers to his fellow Selke candidates.
This is the year of Couturier, and people have taken notice of his accolades this season. It won’t be long before he can add the Selke Trophy to the list of accomplishments he has achieved at the ripe young age of 25.
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports