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Why Blackhawks' Jason Dickinson deserves Selke Trophy consideration

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Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

The 2023-24 NHL regular season will officially come to a close on Thursday, and the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin on Saturday, which means members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association are putting the finishing touches on their award ballots before Friday's deadline.

The Chicago Blackhawks won't have many guys up for awards, outside of Connor Bedard and the Calder Trophy. But there is one other player that deserves some recognition for the Selke Trophy as the NHL's top defensive forward, and that's Jason Dickinson.

Not only has Dickinson scored a career-high 22 goals this season — shattering his previous record of nine — with one game left to play but he's done so while matching up against the opposition's top lines every night. Which makes the stat below pretty mind-boggling:

When Dickinson has been on the ice during 5-on-5 action, the Blackhawks have a +9 goal differential, per Natural Stat Trick. When he's not on the ice, they have a -94 differential.

That's a 103-goal difference on a rebuilding Blackhawks team that's going to finish with the fewest points in franchise history since the NHL moved to 80-plus games in 1974. Dickinson is right up there in the team MVP discussion based on that stat alone.

The context gets better.

As of Wednesday, Dickinson was one of 130 forwards that logged at least 1,000 minutes of ice time at 5-on-5. (He's also the only player on the Blackhawks that will have played all 82 games).

Of those 130, Dickinson ranked third in lowest offensive zone start percentage at 39.3, which means he started almost a third of his shifts in the defensive zone or neutral zone. For comparison, Artemi Panarin leads that group with an offensive zone start percentage of 86.7, and Alex Ovechkin is right behind him at 83.4.

In addition, no forward on the Blackhawks logged more minutes on the penalty kill than Dickinson, whose 167:13 ranks 29th in the NHL among forwards. He has also taken 240 of the team's 401 shorthanded faceoffs; no other player on the Blackhawks has taken more than 30 draws on the penalty kill.

Dickinson is unlikely to win the award, and that's fine. But he has turned in a legitimate Selke Trophy-type season for the Blackhawks and is establishing himself as an elite shutdown centerman.

"I'd be extremely honored," Dickinson said in February when asked what Selke Trophy consideration would mean to him. "I pride myself on the defensive side of the game, so to get any sort of recognition for it — from the coaches, from the management, that's what they trust me with is really all I need. But the acknowledgement from the media, the other players, the outside noise, it is nice to know that other people are seeing it."

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