Barkov of Panthers wins Selke Trophy as best defensive forward

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Aleksander Barkov on Friday won the Selke Trophy, presented annually to the forward voted best to excel in the defensive aspects of the game in the NHL as voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

The 25-year-old center is the first Florida Panthers player to win the award after he was named a finalist for the first time. He ranked first among Florida forwards in takeaways (39) and average time on ice per game (20:56), second in blocked shots (37) behind Noel Acciari (63) and averaged 1:26 of shorthanded ice time per game. Barkov finished 15th in the NHL in face-off percentage (54.9 percent, minimum 650 attempts) and took the 10th most face-offs (1,026), winning the eighth most (563). 

“I want to thank all my teammates, the whole organization of the Florida Panthers, coaches, management and teammates,” Barkov said. “Without them, it would never be possible. And then, obviously, my family, my parents and then my brother and everyone who helped me, all the trainers in South Florida and North America.”

Barkov scored 58 points (26 goals, 32 assists) in 50 games to help the Panthers (37-14-5) finish second in the Discover Central Division and qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He led all Florida skaters in SAT percentage (minimum 15 games played) with the Panthers taking 58.6 percent of all shot attempts when he was on the ice at 5-on-5. 

Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, a four-time Selke winner, and Vegas Golden Knights forward Mark Stone were the other finalists for the award.

“I want to congratulate ‘Bergy’ and Stone for great seasons too and good luck to Stone as well in the (Stanley Cup Playoffs),” Barkov said. “Those are two guys I really look up to. There are a lot of different players in the League I look up to as well, who I play against, but those two are really good players. So I like to play against them and see them play and take something for myself too.”

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