Over the past week, the NHL has been announcing finalists for several league awards, and on Tuesday the three candidates up for the Selke Trophy were released. One of those three players was Calgary Flames’ Elias Lindholm, who had a career season in 2021-22. The other two candidates, to the surprise of no one, are Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins, as well as Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers.
For Lindholm, this marks the first time in his career that he has been named a finalist for the Selke. As for Bergeron, it marks the 11th straight year he is a finalist, four of which he has gone on to win. Barkov, on the other hand, finished as a top-three finalist for the first time last season and went on to win the award. It goes to show just how far Lindholm’s game has come that he is being mentioned in the same conversation as two of the game’s elite two-way forwards.
Looking at Lindholm’s Case
As mentioned, the 2021-22 season was the best of Lindholm’s career. Not only did he set career highs with 42 goals and 82 points, but his plus/minus of plus 61 ranked second in the entire NHL, trailing only his teammate Johnny Gaudreau. On top of that, his 842 faceoff wins ranked fifth in the league, while his 2:07 minutes per game when down a man led all Flames forwards on a penalty kill that sixth amongst all 32 teams.
On top of that, his PDO (on-ice shooting percentage plus save percentage) ranked first amongst all Flames players this season at 106.6. This is better than Barkov’s PDO of 102.2, as well as Bergeron’s of 99.2. With that being said, there are cases to be made for the two nominees Lindholm is up against as well.
Bergeron & Barkov’s Case
As far as offensive statistics go, Bergeron had himself yet another very good season, registering 25 goals and 65 points in 73 games. While his plus/minus was nowhere near as impressive as Lindholm’s, he still ended the season with a very respectable plus-26 rating. Not only did his 991 faceoffs lead the entire league, but he won a ridiculous 61.9 per cent of his draws. For comparison’s sake, Lindholm won 52.9 per cent of his.
As far as his work on the penalty kill goes, he finished third amongst Bruins forwards in time on ice, averaging 1:41 minutes per game. While his team wasn’t quite as good as the Flames when down a man, they still finished ninth in the league with a respectable success rate of 81.3 per cent. On top of that, his expected goals against of 23.11 was first amongst all forwards throughout the league. He is considered by most to be the frontrunner this year.
Last but not least is Barkov, who is one of the best players on a team that clinched the Presidents’ Trophy this season. The 26-year-old Finnish superstar had the best season of his career as far as points per game are concerned, as he managed 88 in just 67 contests. He too finished with an incredible plus/minus rating of plus36. As far as faceoffs go, he won far less than his two competitors with 713, but finished the year at 57 per cent in draws, and would have had plenty more wins had he not missed time due to injury.
Like the other two, Barkov had a significant role on the Panthers’ penalty kill this season, averaging 2:10 minutes per game when down a man. What hurts him somewhat in that regard, however, is that his team’s penalty kill was much worse than both the Flames and Bruins, finishing the season 16th in the league with a success rate of 79.5 per cent. One thing Barkov does have over the other two is takeaways, as his 59 lead all three. Strangely enough, however, his 51 giveaways also lead all three skaters. For Lindholm, he had 55 takeaways paired with 41 giveaways on the season, while Bergeron had 37 takeaways and somehow just 21 giveaways.
Lindholm Finally Getting Deserved Recognition
Since arriving in Calgary in 2018, Lindholm has been one of the game’s least talked about star players. Not only does he put up big offensive totals, but he has been a consistently great player defensively during that same span. With the nomination, he has become the first Flames forward to be nominated for the Selke since Craig Conroy had the honour back in 2001-02.
Barring somewhat of a shock, it doesn’t appear that Lindholm will win the Selke this season. However, this appears to be the start of him getting the recognition he deserves around the league, which bodes well for his chances of winning one in the future. Regardless of the outcome, he joins Jacob Markstrom (Vezina Trophy) as the two Flames to be nominated for league awards thus far. It is expected that Darryl Sutter will also be a top-three finalist for the Jack Adams Award, though an official announcement has yet to be made.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Yahoo Sports, Las Vegas Chronicle, Oil On Whyte, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.