Lately, momentum is picking up for the Penguins Jordan Staal to be considered for the Selke trophy, the award given to the NHL's best defensive forward.
Here's some of his argument's strong points: Staal's 3rd amongst forwards league wide with 3:14 of short-handed ice time per game. He's rated well among the best defensive forwards, according to James Mirtle (M.D). We've seen marginal improvement in faceoffs (he's up to 47.9% on the season, which would be a career best). Staal's plus/minus is +19, which while impressive, isn't overly so. But compared to his team, where only 3 regulars are a +10 on his team, it shows that Staal has been the best on his team.
The Selke tends to be a reputation based award, and even though it's for defense, a guy has to have offensive numbers, which Staal has with 21 goals and 27 assists. Staal also has 2 SH goals and 1 SH assist, which while not gaudy, are at least some measure of production short-handed.
Will Jordan Staal win the Selke? Maybe not this season, but he's emerging as a strong candidate and with his size, durability, smarts and defensive acumen and he'll likely be in the conversation for years to come. It's sometimes easy to forget, but he still is the Penguins youngest player.