Pucks Across the Pond

Could Ryan O’Reilly Win the Selke?

There is no question this year has been a break out season for Colorado centre Ryan O'Reilly. The 20-year old has already surpassed his previous best of 26 points (which he recorded in both his rookie and sophomore years) and is on pace to comfortable pass his previous best of 13 goals.

O'Reilly's 10 goals and 29 points in 41 games will leave the Avalanche faithful happy with the Clinton, Ontario natives continued progress this year - but the real kicker is that O'Reilly leads the entire NHL in take aways.

Whilst it will not be the first stat most hockey fans look at, it's certainly one which needs some consideration when we talk about the best defensive forwards in the NHL. O'Reilly leads perennial Selke nominee Pavel Datsyuk in takeaways, and beat the Red Wings star last year in the same catergory.

This is no mean feat given Datsyuk's history as a multiple winner of the Selke, as well as one of the games continual leaders in takeaways among forwards.

You can almost always draw comparison between the leagues top defensive forwards, their relatively low 'giveaway' count and their strong takeaway numbers. For example you probably won't see Joe Thornton winning the Selke despite his high takeaway statistics, mainly because his giveaway tally is also among the leagues highest. Jonathan Toews, Ryan Kesler or Datsyuk on the other hand...

And that is the sort of territory O'Reilly is coming in to now. Whilst he is unlikely to outscore Toews, reigning Selke winner Kesler or Datsyuk, he is establishing himself as a seriously strong defensive forward, with an offensive upside, for Colorado.

Whilst there are no award for performing for half a season (ask Phil Kessel), if O'Reilly continues on this curve he must come in to consideration to lift the Frank J Selke Memorial Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward at the end of season awards in the spring.


Rob McGregor covers the NHL for Pucks Across the Pond. You can follow him on Twitter: @RobMcGregor35

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