Commentary

Top Selke Trophy candidates

Boston's Patrice Bergeron heads list of league's best defensive forwards

Updated: February 8, 2012, 12:26 PM ET
By Neil Greenberg | ESPN Insider
Patrice BergeronChristian Petersen/Getty ImagesPatrice Bergeron has been Boston's best forward and is a leading Selke Trophy candidate.

Selecting the skaters who should be finalists for the Frank J. Selke Trophy is not an easy task, especially when there are differing opinions as to what it means to be "the National Hockey League forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game."

Luckily for us, in addition to traditional statistics like time spent on the penalty kill or plus/minus, other metrics can evaluate a forward's defensive abilities so that those who truly demonstrate the most skill in the defensive component of the game can be recognized. These include:

1. Quality of competition faced, showing who is playing against the opposition's best.

2. Corsi relative to his teammates: illustrating puck possession when that player is on the ice.

3. Shot suppression on the penalty kill. Special-teams play is fueled by shots at net, and if a player can limit those, that's less work for the defense and goaltender.

No matter how you define those worthy of the Selke -- as the NHL's best defensive forward, the best two-way forward or the best forward who also plays defense -- the discussion starts with who should be the odds-on favorite, Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron.

Neil Greenberg is ESPN Insider's NHL analytics expert. His columns have appeared on the Washington Post website, and he is a regular guest on Sirius XM NHL Radio.