*NHL Awards: The Top Defensive Forward, Who Can Also Contribute Offensively

Reigning Champ:

Pavel Datsyuk is possibly the best ALL AROUND player in the NHL. I’m not calling Crosby or Ovechkin one dimensional players, but Dastyuk is as strong defensively as he is offensively, and still is one of the best producing players in the game. His total number of takeaways is almost twice as much as the guy with the 2nd most takeaways. He led the NHL in +/-, and it doesn’t hurt that he almost got a 100 points last year too.


Henrik Zetterberg of course could win it. He was 5th in +/- last year, and is will finish top 10 in NHL scoring again this year too.

Mike Fischer doesn’t have the offensive upside that Datsyuk and Zetterberg have, but he’s equally strong on the defensive side of the game. Always one of the leaders in hits, and was top 5 in blocked shots by forwards.

Ryan Kesler is Only 23, and really broke out last year scoring 20 goals, and proving to be a top shut down center. He could be a 25 goal scorer this year, and really emerge as a Jere Lehtinen type player, and not only be known as a player who can shut down the opposition, but can be a productive offensive player.

Jere Lehtinen is old now (35 years old), but played some of the best hockey of his career last year when he wasn’t hurt. He only played in 48 games, but got 39 points, and was on pace to exceed his career totals.

Last year wasn’t a good season for Sammy Pahlsson, but now that he’s healthy he should regain his old form.

Mike Richards became a star last season, and now that he’s never again going to have worry about a contract again (signed a 13 year deal a while ago) he should improve on his 75 points, and become an elite two way forward.

Patrick Sharp got 7 short handed goals last year and scored 35 in total. He could emerge as a very good player this year.


This could go to any, but Datsyuk right now looks like he’ll win it. Was brilliant in the playoffs and might be the best player in the game right now.

50 Responses to *NHL Awards: The Top Defensive Forward, Who Can Also Contribute Offensively

  1. mojo19 says:

    I agree. You might be interested in my facebook group. Look up this group called "Baseball, Chicken Wings, Henrik Zetterberg, Hats, Seinfeld".

    On the discussion board theres a Zetterberg vs. Ovechkin debate, where it says basically some of the things you're saying about Datsyuk, only for Zetterberg. Iguess its debateable as to who the better player is of the 2.

    Either way top 8 players in the league are in no order – Zetts, Dats, Lidstrom, Ovechkin, Crosby, Lecavalier, Iginla, Kovalchuk. In my opinion those are the elite, cream of the crop guys.

  2. simplyhabby says:

    Depending on the success of Philly thies year (in relative to what Detorit will do with the other contenders), Richards is a good bet to be nominated for the Selke.

  3. mojo19 says:

    Mike Richards is a beast but I still would put money on Datsyuk or Zetterberg.

  4. muckies says:

    Datsuk and Zetterburg are good, but I like the traditional checking centers for this award like Brind D'amour, Fisher and Primeau. Datsuk and them are good, but i like it when it goes to a hard hitting grittier player that not only keeps you off the scoreboard, but also leaves you in pain a bit, and after a playoff round has you so burnt out and frustrated the franchise almost thinks of trading you, like Draper did to Lindros and Leclair, like Carbo did to Gretzky, and Pahlsson did to Heatey and Spezza and Richards did to Malkin.

    What Richards did to Malkin in the Conference finals was amazing, not sure if Malkin will ever have the heart now to go all out after Richards hurt him that bad, I see Malkin becoming a perimeter player in tight games because of what Richards did to him, defintly Richards has the psycological edge on him, and probably a lot of Penguins, that's why he is up there with the leagues best, he lost the series, but left a wound on the Pens franchise that isn't easily mended because it involves courage some players just don't have, and Malkin will never be able to match the courage that Richards has in any game at any time. . 
  5. pezzz says:

    I think there should be a trophy for strictly defensive forwards, as well as stay-at-home d-men.

    Datsyuk and Zetterberg are excellent two-way forwards (the cream of it), but the numbers they put up make the defensive-minded look like fools for the Selke trophy. I'd like to see guys like Pahlsson, Yelle, Gaustad, Kelly and Mitchell get some recognition. They should have their own trophy, for the best strictly defensive-minded forward.

    Same thing for stay-at-home d-men. It's a shame guys like Robyn Regehr, Cory Sarich, Brendan Witt, Scott Hannan, Chris Phillips, Anton Volchenkov, Niclas Havelid and Mike Komisarek don't have a trophy for them. Look out. I'm totally in favor of Lidstrom winning the Norris trophy, as well as Phaneuf, Nieds, Pronger, Chara and cie be considered for it. But shut-down d-men should get their own trophy, it's a shame that Elite defenders like Regehr and Hannan are not even considered for any trophy.

  6. hockeyhead says:

    patrice bergeron prolly will never win but he is one of the best young two way forwards in the game.

  7. Plekanec says:

     You know I'm an Habs fan and we naturally hate the Bruins but Bergeron when healthy gets a lot of take aways, I have to admit Patrice would make the Bruins a top 4 team in the east if Bergeron can join the team this year, I'm not sure of his status right now?

  8. leafy says:

    I'll leave it to others to debate the best defensive forwards…..could be any of these cowboys….Lehtinen, Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Madden, Brad Richards, Brind'Amour, Draper, Jordan Staal, Brenden Morrow.

    But I wanted to make one general point: The game has evolved so much in the past 20 years, there are now MANY good defensive forwards.

    I recall years ago, there were really only a handful of good defensive players that stood out.  The best I ever saw were Bryan Trottier, Bob Gainey, and Jari Kurri.

    But today, it seems everybody is expected to play well without the puck, it's really incredible.  You look at even some regular schmo in the league right now, I'm telling you, many of them would have been Selke candidates in previous eras.

    Coaches today are much more demanding of their players to be responsible defensively, and if they're not, they're out of the league like shit through a goose, unless they happen to have skills like Alex Ovechkin.

  9. Plekanec says:

      Bergeron, Datsiuk, Richard, Pandolfo, Drury, Vermette, Marleau, Pahlson but the best has to be Hossa.

  10. Plekanec says:

     Like Pezzz said above , why do foward with defensive attribute get rewarded but not the defensemen of that style? It is a shame!

     That's one thing me and pezzz agree on.

  11. pezzz says:

    YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS Plekanec agrees with me!!!

    you make my day man 😛

    We should put this on the calendar.

    september 16th : The day Pezzz and Plekanec agreed on something.

  12. nordiques100 says:

    John Madden from Jersey is terrific.

    Dan Paille and Brooks Laich might emerge as good checking forwards too.

    right now i like Mike Richards. should see him anchor the checking unit in 2010 for Canada.

  13. Kramer says:

    There should be an Art Ross trophy for the goalies!  The "Most Offensive Goalie".  Whichever goalie gets the most points gets the award!

    I should be running the NHL.

  14. Kramer says:

    What about best defensive goalie?  That's easy!  Andrew Raycroft would win every year cuz he gets really defensive when reporters ask him questions.

  15. sundin_500 says:

    perhaps a comeback season for mike peca? does 40-50 points count as contributing?

  16. LEAFSLEAFSLEAFS1967 says:

    good list of forwards who play great defense. Datsyuk and Zetterberg definitely are the best in terms of playing both ends of the rink. Sure you've got some great defensive guys out there (Draper, Fisher, Pahlsson, Brindamour, etc.) and many players now with the ability and potential to put up equal or greater offensive numbers (Crosby, Ovechkin, Malkin, etc.) but i truly believe that there are no other players who are in the same league as these 2 guys when it comes to being exceptional players on both ends of the ice.
    That's why the chances of one of them winning the selke this season are pretty good. I've always believed that as much as i despise the Wings, Detroit's coaching staff really knows how to turn anybody into a defensive dynamo.

  17. Plekanec says:

     John Madden is by far NHL top Defensive foward but doesn't produce much offensively.

  18. papichulo71 says:

    Hossa only plays with one blueline

  19. nordiques100 says:

    i thought 20 goals and 43 points last year was pretty good to warrant consideration. he's also had double digits in goals in each of his first 8 seasons. and the last time the devils won the cup he had 16 points in 24 games. not bad for a checker.

  20. TheStryker says:

    If Chris Higgins was used where he should be, which is on a 3rd line, he could be up there

  21. mojo19 says:

    Its too hard to judge who the best strictly defensive forward is, and the best stay home d. Those guys are all too much alike. That's probably why they don't have it anyway.

    I like the idea though, I think maybe for a shut down d-man, but not a defensive forward, cuz those guys are all 3rd and 4th liners, would you call it the 'Tom Fitzgerald' award?

  22. mojo19 says:

    Bergeron is dirty

  23. mojo19 says:

    Excuse me Leafy, did you say Brad Richards but mean Mike Richards???

    Last year Brad was -25 with the Lightning. A lot of people will say 'ya the lightning were so bad though'. Which is true. But he then went to play 12 games with Dallas and was -2 there, and Dallas was stacked. He finished worst in the league.

    Year before Brad's bolts made the playoffs, he was -19, one of the worst in the league.

    in '06 he put up a whopping 91 points, yet his +/- was even. This guy is a career -57, with only 1 season significantly in the + column, that being the 2004 cup winning year. Richards is actually so bad defensively, because he's too soft on his guy. As a centre in the NHL you gotta get dirty, Brad refuses to.

  24. mojo19 says:

    Ya I remember the day Plekanec agreed with me. Its a strange feeling.

  25. Kramer says:

    I checked with my sources, there's a big trade coming.

  26. hockeyhead says:

    bergeron is dirty as in nasty,  as in sick, as in bad?

    cuz if your calling him cheap…ive never seen him hit someone like he was hit last year.

  27. hockeyhead says:

    he has been symptom free since april and is in the best shape of his career.

    as a bergeron fan (not because i love the b's) i hope he is past the concussions.

  28. leafy says:

    You're probably right, I didn't really think about it too much.  Certainly those aren't good plus/minus numbers for Richards.  I was sort of under the impression he's solid defensively, but i guess not.  It's hard to shake off his outstanding play during that 2004 season, but that was just a blip on the radar screen.

    Thinking about it some more, here are some other great defensive forwards in the recent past: Michael Peca, Steve Rucchin, Sergei Fedorov, Todd Marchant, Mike Modano, Brian Rolston, Ron Francis, Guy Carbonneau, and Doug Gilmour.  I already mentioned Bob Gainey, Bryan Trottier, and Jari Kurri.

  29. pezzz says:

    oh my god…….

  30. mojo19 says:

    no its not like that. He's dirty as in, this guy is amazing.

  31. mojo19 says:

    Dougy and Federov for sure. Love 'em. And the rest of that list is amazing too. Rucchin was kind of underrated for a while in Anaheim like back in the day. Jere Lehtinen too was incredible defensively. And let's not forget Selke trophy winner STEVE YZERMAN, who completely revamped his game under Scotty Bowman's watch, and turned from an explosive offensive dynamo, into the games best two-way player, result – 3 cups.

  32. Plekanec says:

     Yes absolutely, 2 years ago when Montreal broke the record for most  shorthanded goals in one season, Higgins was second in the league behind Jordan Staal.

  33. Plekanec says:

     Your not gonna argue that Higgins is an above average Penalty Killer!

  34. Plekanec says:

    Peca is getting pretty darn slow out there! Peca will get 37pts at most.

  35. leafy says:

    That's true, Yzerman turned into a great defensive forward thanks to Scotty.

    By the way, Yzerman said he wore No. 19 because of Bryan Trottier….another great defensive player from that great Islanders dynasty.

  36. pezzz says:

    Higgins is an average player, period. Writing his name with those of Datsyuk, Staal, Zetterberg, Richards and Sharp is an insult to them. Higgins is nowhere near these players in any aspect of the game.

  37. mojo19 says:

    trottier was amazing, I was born in 1985 so I never saw him win with the Islanders, but I remember him winning the cup with Mario's Penguins. Good 2nd line guy at that time.

  38. mojo19 says:

    Higgins is a really good player. Like a good second line player. I like him a lot. But I have to agree with Pezzz, Higgins vs. Zetterberg, Datsyuk, and Mike Richards. Not even close. Higgins is a better comparison with a guy like Daymond Langkow or something. Only Higgins is younger and has a bright future, but closer to that calibre than he is to Zetterberg.

    Oh and short handed goals don't necessarily mean good two way player. Jason Blake scored 40 goals one year and sniped a bunch of shorty's.

  39. beatles24 says:

    They're supposed to give the Frank Selke Trophy to the best defensive forward but since 1994, many offensives players won it. It's not that Datsyuk is not a good defensive player but the trophy was create at first for defensive player who did a great job and don't have much credit for their importance for their team and in the league.

    That's why i'm not agree with the win of Datsyuk. The real contender from last year was John Madden for me. Here's some defensive forwards in my opinion: Samuel Pahlsson (Ana), Rob Niedermayer (Ana), Adam Mair (Buf), Wayne Primeau (Cal), Mike peca (Clb), Jere Lethtinen (Dal), Kris Draper (Det), Ethan Moreau (Edm), Ville Peltonen (Flo), Éric Bélanger (Min), Steve Bégin (Mon), Bobby Holik (NJ), Jay Pandolfo (NJ), Blair Betts (NYR), Dean McAmmond (Ott), Mike Fisher (Ott), Glen Metropolit (Phi), Steve Reinprecht (Pho), Maxime Talbot (Pit), Marcel Goc (SJ), Dan Hinote (St-L), Chris Gratton (TB), Matt Pettinger (Van), Matt Bradley (Was) & Sergei Fedorov (Was).

    Please allow this award for these players who didn't have a lot of chances to be the first star but always important for his team to stop the best players from the other teams. Like the recipiant from the beggining of this award like Bob Gainey, Steve Kasper, Doug Jarvis, Graig Ramsay, Guy Carbonneau, Dave Poulin, Rick Meagher, Dirk Graham who were real defensive forwards.

  40. Plekanec says:

      I never once said Higgins overall game was as good as the guys you just mentioned, do you actually read what I wrote, I said as a Penalty Killer.

  41. pezzz says:

    even as a penalty killer, he's average. He doesn't even make the 1rst penalty kill pairing of the Habs.

  42. Plekanec says:

      I never said that Higgy was as good as these guys overall but on the PK I would take Higgins in a heartbeat, Higgins even blocks shots, I don't see Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Richard jump in front of shots.

     As for datsyuk and Zetterberg being PK specialist, put them on the Columbus Blue-Jackets and will see how they do on the PK! Even me and my grandma paired with Lidstrom and Rafalski would look good on the PK. Remember that i'm in no way, shape or forme trying to compare these players overall game with higgins'es.


  43. dcz28 says:

    The Selke is given to the best defensive forward not the best defensive forward that can't produce offense or that isn't a star player.

    Datsyuk and Zetterberg were the best defensive forwards on the Wings and in the league last season regardless of how many points they got. They were going up against the other teams top offensive forwards all season along with being key penalty killers for the Wings and all the other stuff like faceoffs, takeaways and plus/minus. Datsyuk deserved the Selke and it was no mistake to have Zetterberg as the runner up unless you had him winning it.

  44. Plekanec says:

    With Lidstrom and Rafalski on the blue line, don't just look at stats look at the big picture.

  45. hockeyhead says:

    so he is dirty as in nasty and sick.

    im hip to most of the young slang these days.

    i just hope he is not subject to cheap shots because he has a concussion problem.

  46. pezzz says:

    Higgins blocks shots because the PK is not good. Think of it. If the opponent shoot a lot, it's because the PK has a problem. That's why he has to block shots.

    Zetterberg and Datsyuk don't block shots because they don't need to. Their positionning is so damn good that the opponent can't even control the puck and take some shots. That's a true PK.

    So even if we talk only of the PK potential, you must take Zetterberg and Datsyuk and Richards and anybody else over Higgins. Chris is not even close again.

  47. mojo19 says:

    Ya but Zetterberg and especially Datsyuk are soooo good they don't even need to block shots. Look at who mr.takeaway is in the NHL its Datsyuk. Dats reads the play so well and gets opponents running around having to move the puck quickly on the PP and then he's right there to intercept, or fight for a loose puck with an opposing player and send it down the ice. His skill level is so much higher than Higgins that its not even funny. He creates so many turnovers with his speed and his skill.

    Dats and Zetterberg are just outstanding, don't give Lidstrom and Rafalski (or Kronwall who kills penalties too) all the credit. Zetterberg and Dats make it easy on Lidstrom just as he makes it easy on them.

  48. mojo19 says:

    No Plekanec they really are that good. They would have won it on LA. Zetterberg neutralizes the other team. Datsyuk is a defensive genious. The fact that they're so skilled obviously comes into play offensively, but it also is a big factor defensively. These guys are so fast, so tough on the puck and so skilled, and they throw the body around, so they absolutely are impossible to play against. The other reason they have an incredible plus minus other than their defensive abilities is the fact that they can control the play in the offensive zone and no one can take the puck off them, they're just way too good.

    Lidstrom is a great player, but don't give him all the credit. Nobody is saying Dan Cleary and Mike Samuelson are two of the best defensive players in the game and they play with Lidstrom too.

  49. sundin_500 says:

    lol, 3 different from what i said, and if i do say so my self, him and rick nash were pretty kick ass together, and in an injured season last year he put up 34 in 65, so that works out to 43 points in a full season, and i think he can top that without being in and out of the lineup so much, but his best days are definatly behind him,

  50. BruMagnus says:

    I'd throw in Hossa for contention, especially given who his linemates may be, but ALSO considering that, Datsyuk or Zets would likely get the nod before him.

    As for my biases:
    I don't like Kesler. Philly would have been a fool to part with Jeff Carter for him.

    Crosby is an excellent two-way player. Jordan Staal has the chance of being a good one too if he scores more.

    Toews also fits the bill for young guys.

    But my top pick is Heatley. He's the man, just watch him!

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