New Jersey Devils captain Nico Hischier was nominated for the Selke Trophy for the first time in his career in 2023. When Hischier was drafted, he was known as a two-way forward who had offensive upside. The Devils chose Hischier over Nolan Patrick, Miro Heiskanen, Cale Makar, and Elias Pettersson. Say what you want about who went after Hischier, getting to this current level makes him worth that pick.
Hischier lost out on the Selke to Patrice Bergeron. It’s honestly unfair to go up against a legend like him. Hischier did finish the season second in Selke voting. That sets a precedence for future seasons. Voters like to repay players who may have lost out on a trophy when they came close. That’s what leads us to this argument.
We’re not saying it will be next season, but Nico Hischier will one day win the Selke Trophy. The NHL is a league of repeats. They will vote for the player they have voted for before. It’s just how it works.
Over the past 13 years (since voting in 2010), only three players finished second in Selke Trophy voting and failed to ever win the trophy. One is Mark Stone, who is almost assured of winning one if he stays healthy during the regular season. Another is Elias Lindholm, who was in second place just last season. He has plenty of time to get his first Selke Trophy. The only player in the last 13 years who won’t win a Selke but finished in second place was David Backes.
Hischier is only going to get better from here. There’s nothing to say that 2022-23 was an outlier. Hischier should consistently be an 80-point player through his prime. As much as it shouldn’t be, scoring is definitely a factor in Selke voting. There aren’t a ton of two-way centers with as much impact on the overall game as Hischier.
The competition for Selke is going to drop precipitously when Bergeron retires, which could be as early as this offseason. On top of that, great two-way centers are harder to find. Mitch Marner was also a finalist for the Selke, and he’s expected to stay in the voting with Hischier for a long time. We mentioned Stone earlier, but his injuries could remove him from future consideration. Lindholm might get in there finally, but he’s on a Calgary Flames team that might lose relevancy.
There are a few names that might gain ground on the list. Roope Hintz is someone who is building his brand, and he will eventually add to his star power if he stays consistent with the Dallas Stars. Elias Pettersson is a superstar who plays defense well, just like Hischier. It might be down to Marner, Hischier, and Pettersson for the next ten years. Matthew Tkachuk might eventually get more love since he does everything so well, but his penalties might disqualify him in the minds of some voters.
At the end of the day, voters are still emotional. The fact that Hischier was second this past season will push him over the top for voters. Sixty-eight voters used their second-place vote on Hischier. Those voters will have Hischier circled for future votes, and Hischier will earn those votes over time. In due time, that trophy is coming back to New Jersey for the first time since John Madden won it in 2001.