Vancouver Canucks: Should Bo Horvat be a Selke candidate?

VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 26: Vancouver Canucks Center Bo Horvat (53) skates with the puck during their NHL game against the Anaheim Ducks at Rogers Arena on March 26, 2019 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Anaheim won 5-4. (Photo by Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 26: Vancouver Canucks Center Bo Horvat (53) skates with the puck during their NHL game against the Anaheim Ducks at Rogers Arena on March 26, 2019 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Anaheim won 5-4. (Photo by Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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The Selke Award finalists have been announced. Vancouver Canucks Center Bo Horvat is not on the ballot. Does he deserve consideration as a Selke Award winner? I am going to delve into the numbers to find out.

According to the NHL, the Selke Award is given to the forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive part of the game. Looking back at past winners, they have all excelled in the offensive part of the game as well.

So, based on that definition, is Vancouver Canucks forward Bo Horvat eligible to be considered? In order to find out, I will be comparing his numbers to the three finalists in three categories: Offensive numbers, possession metrics and faceoffs.

Offensive numbers

From the offensive numbers, Horvat is a little behind all three finalists. All of them have more goals, points and a better plus/minus. The only number that stands out from a defensive standpoint is the plus/minus. All the finalists are in the double digits on the plus side. While Horvat is on the negative side.

Possession metrics

These numbers tell a more rounded story regarding the defensive play of Horvat and the finalists for the Selke. All three have a better Corsi percentage than Horvat, which on the surface says that Horvat has a way to go to be considered for the trophy.

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However, the number that stands out is the difference in percentage of time Horvat starts his shifts in the defensive zone.

Horvat starts in the defensive zone 59.1 percent of the time. Compare that to Bergeron, who only starts 41.2 percent of his shifts in that zone, and he has won the trophy four times in his career.

Horvat has a more difficult time keeping his possession numbers up because he always has to start in the defensive zone facing off against the best players on the opposing team. This is bound to negatively affect his plus/minus more then it does for Bergeron, O’Reilly and Stone.

Faceoffs, takeaway, giveaway

Horvat had 2018 faceoffs taken (53.7% success rate), 28 takeways and 38 giveaway.

    • Patrice Bergeron 1389 faceoffs taken (56.6% success rate) 42 TK, 27 GV
    • Ryan O’Reilly 1910  faceoffs taken (56.9% success rate) 94 TK, 33 GV
    • Mark Stone 62 faceoffs taken (45.2% success rate) 122 TK, 62 GV

This category also tells a lot about a player’s defensive abilities. All of the finalists are high in takeaways and low in giveaways (excluding Stone). Stone also does not take a lot of faceoffs. Horvat, on the other hand, does not have a lot of takeaways, but is relatively low in giveaways. The one thing he does have is the ridiculous amount of faceoffs he took this year and he was still able to keep his percentage above 50.

Conclusion

Horvat is developing into a force both offensively and defensively. After digging into the numbers, I believe Horvat is close to being considered a threat to win the Selke Award. However, I dob’t think he was considered this year. Mostly because he is behind on a lot of key analytics that gauge good defensive play.

Horvat has to improve on his takeaway and possession numbers. The good thing is that this can be improved upon by having a quicker stick and being harder on pucks.

The possession numbers can be improved with help from head coach Travis Green and general manager Jim Benning. Green needs to align Horvat with more offensive threats so that possession is driven in the offensive zone instead of the defensive zone. He would also benefit from being deployed in the offensive zone more often.

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Benning can help by acquiring a good two-way winger to play with Horvat, so that he does not have to cover up for the miscues of his linemates, and generate more offence. Do you agree with my assessment, or do you think Horvat deserves Selke Award consideration this year? Sound off in the comments.