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Should Zach Aston-Reese get more respect for his defensive brand of hockey?

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Aston-Reese seemingly isn’t getting the deserved love for what seems to have become another award that is voted on by reputation alone.

New York Islanders v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Five Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

It’s everyone’s favorite time of year — NHL Awards Voting Season™️, and I would be remiss to not join in on the getting angry that my favorite team’s players aren’t getting the respect they deserve.

Today’s topic: the Selke Trophy, which by definition, is awarded to the forward “who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game.”

This year’s three finalists are Patrice Bergeron, Mark Stone, and Aleksander Barkov.

Bergeron has won the award four times, most recently in 2017.

In 2019, Stone finished in 2nd, Bergeron in 3rd, and Barkov in 5th. That year, Sidney Crosby received a number of votes, finishing in 4th place, just missing the cut to be a finalist.

Last year, when Flyers’ center Sean Couturier won the award, Zach Aston-Reese received 4 votes.

So that begs the question — should the two of those Penguins players get more love for their defensive play?

JFresh makes the great point that it’s never going to be likely that bottom-six wingers are going to win the award or be finalists. It’s an award that is center-driven, mainly due to the fact that winning face-offs is a big part of the defensive part of the game, but the numbers here for Aston-Reese don’t lie.

Two years in a row with the best metrics in the league at preventing scoring chances should garner more than 4 votes.

Aston-Reese may not bring the flash to the game that a top-line center like Patrice Bergon, Anze Kopitar, Ryan O’Reilly, Jonathan Toews, or Pavel Datsyuk, all stars who won the award during their careers does, but I don’t think it’s absurd to suggest that Aston-Reese should finish with more than 4 votes this time around. It will be interesting to see where he lands when the ballots are made public later this offseason.

On an additional note, The Athletic’s Jesse Marshall raises an even better side discussion regarding Aston-Reese’s future with the team.

A lot of discussions have involved Aston-Reese being the Penguins’ candidate to be selected by the Seattle Kraken in the upcoming expansion draft, but Jesse says we should pump the brakes on that discussion.

Many predictions include protecting Jeff Carter from being selected, but are the Kraken going to select a player who is 36 and going into the final year of his contract with retirement more likely than not, barring a full season of resurgence like we saw during the end of the regular season and postseason? Probably not, and I feel like playing the odds of protecting a player like Aston-Reese might be the smarter play.