The Flyers aren’t bringing home the Stanley Cup this year, and neither Oskar Lindblom nor Alain Vigneault was able to bring home any hardware, but Sean Couturier is adding to his trophy case.
The 27-year-old center was announced as the winner of the Frank J. Selke Trophy which is annually awarded to the league’s top defensive forward. The 9-year veteran had been a runner up to the trophy in the 2017-2018 season and has been considered one of the superior two-way players in the league for several years.
Couturier’s offensive production this season (22 goals 37 assists for 59 points in 69 games), as well as his nightly assignments against the opponent’s top line, made him a top candidate along with Patrice Bergeron and Ryan O’Reilly. Previously, Bergeron is a four-time winner and O’Reilly won last season. All three of these players have been perennial contenders for the award, and this season Couturier likely had the most noticeable season.
The Selke Trophy has been an interesting award for many years since it carries more subjectivity than who scored the most goals/points or who was the most valuable player? Rating a defensive forward, especially in recent years, means marrying play on the ice with modern analytics and advanced stats. Couturier was firmly entrenched as the Flyers top center and being one of the ice time leaders and playing on all special teams means that if he makes a mistake it will get seen. It also means that he’ll have plenty of data to track. By any metric (Corsi, Fenwick, PDO) Couturier had the best possession metrics of his career and did so while starting 48% of his shifts in the defensive zone.
Next season will be Couturier’s 10th in the league and with the Flyers. He will turn 28 in December and seems to be firmly in his prime. Couturier is the 3rd Flyer to have won the award. Bobby Clarke won in 1982-83 and the most recent Flyer to win was Dave Poulin in 1986-87.