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Pavel Datsyuk, Ryan Kesler and Jordan Staal finalists for NHL's Selke Trophy

April 20, 2010 | 12:41 pm

Datsyuk_400 Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings, Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks and Jordan Staal of the Pittsburgh Penguins are the three finalists for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, awarded to the league's top forward who excels in the defensive aspects of the game.

Members of the Professional Hockey Writers Assn. submitted ballots at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced June 23.

Datsyuk led the NHL in takeaways for the third time in the last four seasons with a career-high 132, nearly 60% more than second-place Ryan Kesler of Vancouver (83). Datsyuk ranked second on the Red Wings in plus-minus with a +17 rating and was the club's top face-off man, posting a 55% winning percentage (590 of 1,070). He could become the first player to win the Selke for three consecutive seasons since Bob Gainey of the Montreal Canadiens won it the first four seasons it was presented, from 1978 through 1981.

Kesler appeared in all 82 games and averaged a career-high 19:37 in ice time, second among Canucks forwards to Henrik Sedin. He ranked ninth among NHL centers in face-offs taken (1,401), winning a team-best and career-high 55% of them (772), led the Canucks in total shorthanded time (218:20), dished out 95 hits and recorded 73 blocked shots. Kesler is a finalist for the second consecutive season, finishing third in last year's voting behind Datsyuk and Philadelphia's Mike Richards.

Staal received plenty of ice time against the NHL's top centers, appearing in all 82 games and ranking third among Pittsburgh forwards in ice time (19:23 per game), trailing only Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. He played more shorthanded minutes (274:08) than any NHL forward except St. Louis' Jay McClement (306:53). The 21-year-old Staal also led the Penguins in plus-minus with a career-best +19 rating. Staal is a Selke finalist for the first time.

-- Debbie Goffa

Photo: Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk tries to make a pass during Saturday's game against the Phoenix Coyotes. Credit: Matt Kartozian / US Presswire.