Sean Couturier has been one of the Philadelphia Flyers’ best and most important players during his career, and he’s starting to get the recognition he deserves from around the league.
Couturier was named a finalist for the Frank J. Selke Trophy on Monday. The Selke Trophy, voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association following the regular season, is awarded to the forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game.
The Selke Trophy rewards the league’s best two-way forwards – usually centers – for their contributions beyond the scoresheet. Although the focus in the description is on “the defensive component,” the Selke winner has typically had a strong season offensively as well.
2020 Selke Trophy finalists, as voted by @ThePHWA: Patrice Bergeron (BOS), Sean Couturier (PHI) and Ryan O'Reilly (STL).— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) July 20, 2020
Bergeron is a four-time winner, but he hasn’t won since 2017. He had 56 points (31 goals, 25 assists) in 61 games this season.
O’Reilly won his first Selke Trophy last season and topped it off with the Conn Smythe Trophy to boot. O’Reilly finished this season with 61 points (12 goals, 49 assists) in 71 games.
Couturier finished in the top 10 for the Selke four times prior to this year, and this is just his second time being named a finalist for the Selke Trophy. His first nomination came in his breakout 2017-18 season, when he had 76 points (31 goals, 45 assists) in 82 games. He asked for more chances offensively prior to that season, and he’s delivered ever since.
This season, Couturier was on pace for his third straight 70-point season with 22 goals and 37 assists for 59 points in 69 games. More importantly, he was the Flyers’ best all-around player and led the team with a Corsi-For Percentage of 56.25%. That mark was also the eighth-best among all forwards with at least 700 minutes played. Couturier also had the fifth-best CF% relative to his teammates (+7.48%), just shy of Elias Pettersson’s +8.28%. Bergeron (+6.77 CF% Rel) and O’Reilly (+2.78 CF% Rel) came in 10th and 69th respectively.
While Couturier is deserving of the Selke, so are the nominees he is up against. Over the past 12 seasons, only six different players have won the Selke – including Bergeron four times and O’Reilly once. But once you’re in, you’re in. Ryan O’Reilly broke through with his first Selke last year, and Couturier is looking to do the same after coming up short in 2018.
It could be a close vote this year, but Couturier is definitely worthy of being one of the three finalists. Bergeron and O’Reilly are already in the Selke club, and Couturier is looking to join them.