With Patrice Bergeron out of the picture, it’s time for Mitch Marner to dominate the Selke Trophy conversation
Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
By Nick Alberga1 month ago
The time is nigh for Mitch Marner to capture his first career Selke Trophy.
At the very least, there’s no question the Markham native should be considered a betting favourite to skate away with the dubious honour as the league’s best defensive forward in 2023-24.
The field is officially wide open.
That’s because Patrice Bergeron, who’s pretty much owned the award for the past decade, announced his retirement on Tuesday.
Over his illustrious 19-year career, the 38-year-old won the highly respected trophy a grand total of six times —including back-to-back to finish his career. Speaking of which, Marner capped off his career high 99-point season (30 goals, 69 assists) by being named a first-time finalist for the award. Of course, he would go on to place third on the ballot behind Bergeron and New Jersey’s Nico Hischier.
Suiting up in 80 regular season outings, Marner averaged 21:17 of total ice time —including 2:17 per game on the penalty kill. He racked up 104 takeaways and 45 blocked shots.
Honestly, it’s been incredible to see Marner grow as a player over the years. The perception has changed tenfold, that’s for sure. In his early days, he was widely considered a one-way offensive dynamo —that’s it, that’s all. Nowadays, in addition to cementing himself as one of the league’s top offensive stars, in recent years, he’s really evolved into a premier shutdown forward. Furthermore, what makes him special and a big-time asset to Sheldon Keefe is the fact that not only can he be deployed in all facets of the game, but he can excel at each role, too.
Moral of the story: That Selke nomination wasn’t a fluke. For what it’s worth, it’s been 30 years since a Leaf last won the award (Doug Gilmour – 1993).
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