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First time finalist Auston Matthews robbed of Frank J. Selke Trophy


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Mike Armenti
May 19, 2024  (10:55)
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Auston Matthews
Photo credit: USA Today Sports

For much of the 2023-24 season, Auston Matthews appeared to be a Frank J. Selke Trophy favourite, but when the voting came down, he finished a distant 3rd.

The offensive impacts for Matthews are obvious, but this year, Matthews really took a huge step forward in terms of his defensive play as well.
The Selke Trophy, which may one day end up being the Patrice Bergeron Trophy after the now retired Bergeron won the award a record setting 6 times in his career, is an award given to the league's top defensive forward, but it has become more of a reputation-based award than anything else over the last number of years.
Aleksander Barkov was this year's winner, but I'm not sold on him deserving to win, nor am I convinced that he did enough to even rank ahead of Matthews. Here's the list showing how the votes came down.
Matthews receiving just 2 first place votes is laughable. Meanwhile, Sam Reinhart, who finished 4th in Selke Trophy voting, behind Matthews, received 12 first place votes. The real shocker, though, was Barkov's 165 first place votes as the runaway winner. The voting wasn't even close despite what the status suggest.
In terms of their +/- ratings, Barkov just edged Matthews out, with the Panthers captain finishing a +33, while Matthews finished a +31. However, there are some other statistics that tell a different story. For example, Matthews posted 93 shot blocks, 3rd among forwards behind only Jarred Tinordi and Ryan Poehling. Barkov didn't even rank among the top-50 forwards for shot blocks.
To add some fuel to the fire, Matthews also finished with the 2nd-most takeaways in the league with 85 takeaways, while Barkov finished in 25th with just 61 takeaways. Matthews also won 705 faceoffs to Barkov's 630.
This season, Matthews was relied on more heavily by his team, playing nearly 21 minutes per game, while Barkov skated an average of just 19:38 per game. Yes, Barkov edged Matthews out with a 63% Corsi rating versus Matthews' 61%, but Matthews was better in the defensive zone giveaways column, not coughing the puck up in his own end even once this season. Meanwhile, Barkov coughed it up in his own defensive zone 4 times, per MoneyPuck.
Obviously, reputation came into play here. The numbers don't really support Barkov finishing that far ahead of Matthews, if ahead at all, but here we are.
Matthews, the reigning Rocket Richard Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award winner, certainly had the better season between the two, and it wasn't particularly close. Unfortunately, offense isn't factored into the decision for the top defensive forward in the league. It's just a shame that Matthews didn't get the recognition he also deserves as one of the best defensive forwards in the league as well.
POLL
MAY 19   |   394 ANSWERS
First time finalist Auston Matthews robbed of Frank J. Selke Trophy

Was Matthews robbed of the Selke Trophy?

Yes, Matty deserved it23960.7 %
No, Barkov was the right choice13935.3 %
Jordan Staal should have won164.1 %
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