Flyers' Sean Couturier leads all Selke Trophy candidates in PHWA's 2019-20 NHL midseason awards

Flyers' Sean Couturier leads all Selke Trophy candidates in PHWA's 2019-20 NHL midseason awards

The Frank J. Selke Trophy has long been a reputation award. The players that win it have built up a brand and are rightfully recognized.

Sean Couturier's do-it-all brand is starting to become recognized.

In the Professional Hockey Writers Association's 2019-20 midseason awards, Couturier was the leading vote-getter for the Selke Trophy among the 117 writers who filled out ballots.

The Flyers' 27-year-old center, who is in his ninth NHL season, has never won the award, which is given to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game. In 2017-18, his breakout year, Couturier finished as a runner-up to the Kings' Anze Kopitar.

This season, once again, Couturier has been one of the Flyers' most valuable players. Through 50 games, he is tied for the team lead in points (43), first in assists (30) and even-strength points (35), second in shots (131), faceoff win percentage (58.3), takeaways (31) and plus-minus (plus-15), third in shorthanded minutes (101:51) and fourth in ice time per game (20:02).

Over his last 40 games since Oct. 29, Couturier has put up 38 points (11 goals, 27 assists), a plus-22 mark and 32 even-strength points, eighth most in the NHL, while the Flyers have gone 22-13-5 in that stretch.

"He plays that full 200-foot game, but he's also got some good offensive abilities," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said last month. "He goes to the net hard, you see him a lot times challenging defensemen 1-on-1 and not being afraid to bring that puck and go to the tough areas. He's got the ability to make plays with the puck, he plays power play and penalty killing and 5-on-5."

Among NHL forwards since 2017-18, Couturier is the only one to rank in the top 10 of even-strength points (155 — tied for ninth) and shorthanded time on ice (441:55 — eighth).

And among NHL centers since 2017-18, Couturier ranks fourth in ice time per game (21:26), tied for fourth in even-strength points, fifth in plus-minus (plus-51), tied for fifth in faceoff win percentage (55.9), seventh in shorthanded time on ice, 15th in assists (118) and tied for 17th in goals (77).

In the PHWA's Selke Trophy midseason voting, Couturier finished ahead of the Bruins' Patrice Bergeron (four-time winner) and the Blues' Ryan O’Reilly (last season's winner).

He’s grown into a real solid two-way centerman. I don’t want to say ‘Bergeron type,’ I think Bergeron is obviously the role model in the league, but I think Coots is closing in on how good Bergeron is.

I think because he might not be as flashy or look as spectacular as some of the other guys, maybe people don't notice him as much. But I can tell you, the people in this room, the people that play with him every day, they notice him.

- Vigneault on Couturier, Dec. 4

Here are the full results for the PHWA’s 2019-20 midseason awards:

Hart Trophy to the player adjudged to be most valuable to his team.

1. Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
2. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
3. David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins

Norris Trophy — to the defenseman who demonstrates the greatest all-round ability in the position.

1. John Carlson, Washington Capitals
2. Roman Josi, Nashville Predators
3. Dougie Hamilton, Carolina Hurricanes

Selke Trophy  to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.

1. Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers
2. Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
3. Ryan O’Reilly, St. Louis Blues

Calder Trophy — to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition.

1. Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche
2. Quinn Hughes, Vancouver Canucks
3. Victor Olofsson, Buffalo Sabres

Lady Byng Trophy — to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.

1. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
2. Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
3. Ryan O’Reilly, St. Louis Blues

Vezina Trophy — to the goaltender adjudged to be the best at his position.

1. Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets
2. Ben Bishop, Dallas Stars
3. Darcy Kuemper, Arizona Coyotes

Jack Adams Award — to the coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team's success.

1. Mike Sullivan, Pittsburgh Penguins
2. John Tortorella, Columbus Blue Jackets
3. Craig Berube, St. Louis Blues

Jim Gregory GM of the Year Award — to the general manager adjudged to have contributed most to his team's success.

1. Joe Sakic, Colorado Avalanche
2. John Chayka, Arizona Coyotes
3. Doug Armstrong, St. Louis Blues

Rod Langway Award — to the defenseman who best excels in the defensive aspect of the game.

1. Jaccob Slavin, Carolina Hurricanes
2. Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning
3. Roman Josi, Nashville Predators

Comeback Player of the Year Award — to the player who returned to a previous high level of performance that was interrupted by subpar play, long-term injury or major illness.

1. William Nylander, Toronto Maple Leafs
2. Anthony Duclair, Ottawa Senators
3. Max Pacioretty, Vegas Golden Knights

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Sean Couturier finishes 2nd to Anze Kopitar for Selke Trophy

Sean Couturier finishes 2nd to Anze Kopitar for Selke Trophy

Flyers center Sean Couturier finished second to Kings center Anze Kopitar for the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the NHL’s top defensive forward presented Wednesday night in Las Vegas. 

Couturier was looking to become the third Flyer to win the award after Dave Poulin in 1987 and Bobby Clarke in 1983.  

The Flyers' top center was edged out by Kopitar, who also won the award in 2016. Four-time Selke winner Patrice Bergeron was third after missing a significant time with a broken foot.

Kopitar finished with 1,152 points with 70 first-place votes to Couturier’s 976 and 37 first-place votes.

Couturier elevated his game in 2017-18, proving to be one of the best all-around centers in the league, scoring 31 goals with 76 points while also finishing third in the NHL with a plus-34 rating.

Kopitar and Couturier also finished 1-2 in minutes played among forwards.

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Sean Couturier named Selke Trophy finalist

Sean Couturier named Selke Trophy finalist

While Sean Couturier did not suit up Wednesday night for Game 4 against the Penguins, the Flyers’ centerman did receive national recognition as a finalist for the Frank J. Selke Trophy.

Couturier joins Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron and Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar as the three finalists for the award slotted to the game’s best defensive forward.

In reality, the Selke Trophy has transformed into the game’s best two-way forward and with Couturier's 31-goal, 76-point season, his offense finally caught up to his defensive ability. He finished tied with three players for third in plus/minus as a plus-34.

The 25-year-old could become the third Flyer to win the award and the first since Dave Poulin won in 1986-87. Bobby Clarke won the Selke Trophy in 1982-83.

Couturier missed Wednesday’s game after a collision with Radko Gudas during Tuesday’s practice. He officially suffered a “lower-body injury,” but video suggests it's a knee injury. During a drill, Gudas ran into Couturier, making contact with the center's right knee.

Bergeron has won four of the last six awards, while Kopitar won it two seasons ago. 

The NHL awards will take place June 20 in Las Vegas.