The Frank J. Selke Award may not have the gravitas of the Hart Trophy (MVP), Norris Trophy (best defenseman) or Vezina Award (top goalie), but it is a coveted honor that goes to the best defensive forward in the NHL.
The NHL first started honoring defensive forwards in the 1977-78 season when Bob Gainey of the Montreal Canadiens won the honor. Gainey, one of the greatest defensive forwards in the history of the game and a Hall of Famer, won the honor the first four years it was awarded.
Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins won the honor last year, while highly skilled Pavel Datsyuk is a three-time award winner.
Many factors go into a player's resume when considering him for the Selke Award. In Bergeron's case, his skill as a faceoff man gives him an edge over nearly every other player in the league. When you can keep the puck away from your opponent, you have an excellent chance to be a strong defensive player.
But wingers who don't take faceoffs can also be strong defensive players. They can show their defensive tenacity with their hitting ability as well as their propensity for blocking shots.
However, the one factor that all strong defensive forwards have is a conscientious attitude toward defensive play. There is no cutting of corners and players will never hang out near the red line so they can trade their defensive responsibilities for a scoring opportunity.
Here's a look at seven top contenders for the award during this shortened season.