Selke Trophy finalists

David Backes of St. Louis, Patrice Bergeron of Boston and Pavel Datsyuk of Detroit are this year's finalists for the Selke Trophy, which goes to the league's top defensive forward.

Here's the release from the NHL:

Centers David Backes of the St. Louis Blues, Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins and Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings are the three finalists for the 2011-12 Frank J. Selke Trophy, which is awarded "to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game," the National Hockey League announced today.

Members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association submitted ballots for the Selke Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced Wednesday, June 20, during the 2012 NHL Awards from Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas. The 2012 NHL Awards will be broadcast by NBC Sports Network in the United States and CBC in Canada.

Following are the finalists for the Selke Trophy, in alphabetical order:

David Backes, St. Louis Blues

Backes had the highest average ice time per game among forwards (19:59) on the club that allowed the fewest goals in the NHL by a wide margin. The 6'3", 225-lb. center again was a punishing physical presence, doling out a team-leading 226 hits, joining Los Angeles forward Dustin Brown as the only players to record 200 hits or more in each of the past five seasons. Backes led the Blues in face-offs (1,353), blocked 72 shots and posted a +15 rating. The Blues captain is an NHL Trophy finalist for first time in his seven-year NHL career and is the first Blues player vying for the Selke Trophy since Michal Handzus finished second in 2000.

Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins

Bergeron led the NHL in plus-minus (+36), posting a +18 rating both at home and on the road, helping the Bruins rank second in the Eastern Conference in team defense (2.39 GAA). Appearing in a single-season career-high 81 games, he topped all Bruins forwards in shorthanded time on ice (1:48 per game) and was dominant in the face-off circle, posting a 59.2% winning percentage (973 of 1,641) to rank second in the League behind Chicago's Jonathan Toews (59.4%). Bergeron is an NHL Trophy finalist for the first time and could become the second Bruins player to capture Selke honors, joining Steve Kasper (1982).

Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings

Datsyuk continued his mastery of separating opponents from the puck in 2011-12 by ranking third in the NHL in takeaways (97), and his stickhandling and passing skills helped the Red Wings' renowned puck possession game. Datsyuk posted a +21 rating and was the club's top face-off man, posting a 56.2% winning percentage (702 of 1,249) -- his eighth consecutive season posting a win rate above 53%. Datsyuk has been voted a Selke finalist for the fifth consecutive year, matching the streaks of Montreal's Guy Carbonneau (1986 through 1990) and Bob Gainey (1978 through 1982) as the longest since the award was introduced in 1978.