Has Auston Matthews Entered The Selke Trophy Conversation?

Auston Matthews is running away with the Rocket Richard trophy race after scoring his 52nd goal of the season last night against the Vegas Golden Knights and is now gaining a lot of traction to win the Hart Memorial Trophy. One of the few awards Auston Matthews has not won in his NHL career is the Frank J. Selke Award, but his development of the defensive end should 100% have him in the conversation for that award this season!

Has Auston Matthews done enough to enter the Selke Trophy Conversation?
Has Auston Matthews done enough to enter the Selke Trophy Conversation? / Claus Andersen/GettyImages
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Following the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 win over the Vegas Golden Knights, Max Domi was asked in his postgame interview if he thinks Auston Matthews deserves to be in the Selke Trophy conversation as the NHL's best defensive forward.

Like the pro he is, Domi kept the focus on the Toronto Maple Leafs after a great win and reemphasized their focus on winning the Stanley Cup.

But just because Domi did not want to get into the conversation, does not mean the reporter's question was not valid, and I think Auston Matthews has a strong case to win this award.

George Washington once wrote...

"“make them believe, that offensive operations, often times, is the surest, if not the only (in some cases) means of defense”"

George Washington

In years past, this quote pretty much described Auston Matthews's game, but over the past two years, Matthews has really started to develop defensively and has now turned himself into one of the most impactful defensive forwards on top of being the NHL's leading scorer.

A Breakdown of Auston Matthews Defensive Improvement

So far this season, Auston Matthews ranks fourth among forwards in takeaways and has the third most blocked shots of any forward in the NHL.

Of forwards that have played 500 minutes or more this season, Matthews has the 12th-best on-ice goals for percentage, the sixth-best on-ice shots for percentage, the 15th-best high-danger chance for percentage and the 11th-best high-danger goals for percentage. (stats naturalstattrick.com).

Matthews has also quietly turned himself into one the best penalty killers in the NHL having the eighth lowest on-ice goals allowed per 60, the fifth best-unblocked shot attempt percentage and 5th best high-danger chance percentage of all forwards who have played at least 40 minutes on the penalty kill this season.

As always with these awards that are voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, there is an element of recency bias and since the start of 2024, Matthews has only gotten better and ranks...

- Fourth highest among forwards in goal percentage (minimum 100 minutes played).
- Eighth highest among forwards in scoring chance percentage (minimum 100 minutes played).
- Fourth highest among forwards in high-danger chance percentage (minimum 100 minutes played).
- Ninth highest among forwards in high-danger goal percentage (minimum 100 minutes played).

When it comes to votes, Matthews is going to benefit from playing in one of the biggest markets in the NHL.

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With Matthews's offensive production on the stat sheet and his ability to control scoring chances while he is on the ice, I think he could get some votes as the best two-way forward in the NHL, it will just be a matter of the voters looking deeper than his goal-scoring numbers or not.