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Sean Couturier captures first Selke Trophy

It was just a matter of when, not if this would happen.

Philadelphia Flyers v Montreal Canadiens - Game Four Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

After learning yesterday that Alain Vigneault finished just short of capturing the Jack Adams Award, today it was announced that one Flyer was crowned the best defensive forward in the league. And it’s been a long time coming.

Sean Couturier, long a Selke contender, has defeated last year’s winner Ryan O’Reilly, and runner-up Patrice Bergeron, for the Frank J. Selke Trophy. We discussed his candidacy back in July, concluding that was a well deserving finalist, but that Couturier had still yet to break into the club.

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.

Fast forward just under two months later, and he’s done it.

The Flyers’ star center has captured the first individual award of his NHL career, following a 59-point campaign that had him on pace for this third consecutive 70-point season. He was also a +21 in the regular season, and while we might not care much about that, it’s a number that a non-insignificant portion of the voters likely continue to factor into their decision. With Couturier on the ice at five-on-five, the Flyers owned 56.29 percent of the shot share, and 54.75 percent of the expected goal share. Maybe most importantly, they out-scored the opponent 55 to 34.

The voting wasn’t particularly close, with Couturier receiving 117 first place votes, 96 more (!) than Bergeron.

Top five vote-getters, via NHL PR

Also of note is that Claude Giroux received one second place vote.

Bergeron actually surpassed Couturier in all three of the five-on-five categories we brought up, but relative to their teams, Couturier’s individual impact looks stronger.

Selke Candidates Relative Metrics

Candidate RelTM Goal diff. per 60 RelTM Corsi diff. per 60 RelTM Expected Goal diff. per 60
Candidate RelTM Goal diff. per 60 RelTM Corsi diff. per 60 RelTM Expected Goal diff. per 60
Sean Couturier 0.85 8.80 0.27
Patrice Bergeron 0.40 7.56 0.39
Ryan O'Reilly 0.58 3.67 0.32

All three centers would have been deserving recipients, and truthfully, like many first time award winners, Couturier had a better case to win the honor in previous campaigns. Nevertheless, now that he’s broken through, and with the Flyers poised for long-term success, look for Couturier to continue to be in the Selke conversation for years to come.

This marks the first time that a Flyer has won an individual award since Ian Laperriere took home the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in 2011, and Couturier becomes the third Flyer to win the Selke Trophy. He joins previous winners Bobby Clarke, and Dave Poulin.

Data referenced via Evolving-Hockey,