Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri should win the Selke Trophy.
“The Frank J. Selke Trophy is an annual award given to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association at the end of the regular season. “(NHL.com)
Lack Of Leafs On The Selke
The Toronto Maple Leafs have only had one player (Doug Gilmour) awarded the Selke Trophy, in its entirety beginning from the end of the 1977-78 season. The basic definition above states the forward with the best defensive aspects of the game.
Enter Nazem Kadri, the revitalized center reborn under the expert leadership of Mike Babcock has completely changed his game. I believe Connor McDavid is still in Nazem Kadri’s pocket looking to get out.
While all the plaudits, rightly, go toward the rookies, Kadri has come of age, acting like a father to this team. He lets the kids go and have fun, but when they have too much fun (going forward) Kadri is there to metaphorically clean up the sick.
Boy does he cleanup, stopping the best players night in, night out. He was asked by Babcock did he want Malkin or Crosby and he replied Crosby every time. It’s not the role he envisaged himself carrying out when he was drafted, but is relishing it now.
Sink or Swim
It wasn’t purely choice that led him to this decision either. Realistically he isn’t going to be on the top-two lines due to the wonderkids coming through. You’d also imagine with more focus on defense that his offense would natural tail off, quite the opposite. With 20 goals, he has already tied his career best, with essentially half the season to go.
Using the Corsi stats, his CF60 is 63.11 and CA60 is 59.97 meaning the Leafs are averaging 3 more shots with him on the ice. You can use that to suggest that he is also stopping 3 shots with his defensive capabilities.
Paws For The Final Thoughts
If he continues playing the way he has, I see no reason for him not to be in the Selke conversation, as crazy as that would have sounded a year ago. If he can look after Freddie Andersen and the defense as well as he looks after his cat, he may just win it.