**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2021 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**
In their brief existence, the Golden Knights have won four individual NHL awards — all in 2018: William Karlsson took the Lady Byng, Deryk Engelland the Mark Messier Leadership Award, Gerard Gallant the Jack Adams, and George McPhee the General Manager of Year.
Will Mark Stone’s name be added to the list this summer?
The Captain is worthy of the Frank J. Selke Trophy, which goes to the top defensive forward, and he should be in the conversation for the Hart Trophy which goes to the league’s MVP.
The latter might be more problematic, given Edmonton’s Connor McDavid likely has a lock on that. The Hart is supposed to be for “most valuable to his team” and it’s hard to argue against McDavid. But Stone has certainly been Vegas’ MVP this season. Yes, Max Pacioretty has more goals. Yes, Marc-Andre Fleury has been sensational in net. But when you look at the totality of it, who has done more for this team than Stone?
He leads the team in scoring and is tied for ninth in the league with 57 points. He is an excellent penalty killer. He uses that long stick to break up opposing scoring opportunities before they ever manifest themselves. He blocks shots and plays the body in his own end . He’s a +26, third in the NHL among forwards. In other words, Stone checks all the Selke boxes.
Yet, for all the good things he has done for the Golden Knights, it might not get recognized around the league when it comes to the Selke. The good folks in Canada who vote for this may not be paying close enough attention to what’s going on here, though I have faith in my Professional Hockey Writers Association brethren that they are in tune with what’s happening beyond the North Division.
That said, McDavid’s Edmonton sidekick, Leon Draisaitl, is going to get a lot of consideration, as will Florida’s Aleksander Barsov and Boston’s Patrice Bergeron (a four-time Selke winner), and Brad Marchand. Some might try and make a case for Ryan O’Reilly in St. Louis, Joel Erikkson-Ek in Minnesota, and Martin Necas in Carolina.
But here’s why Stone should be strongly considered, if not the outright favorite, for the Selke. He’s been making great plays all season. But in Wednesday’s 5-2 win over the Avalanche, a game everyone can agree was huge for both teams, Stone delivered.
Watch him here as he sets up Pacioretty for the fourth goal early in the third period: