Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone could end his first season with the team by ending a long drought for his position.
Stone was named one of three finalists for the NHL’s Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward Wednesday, along with St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly and Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron.
A winger hasn’t won the award since Jere Lehtinen in 2003, but Stone has a worthy case after leading the NHL in takeaways with 122.
“He’s a 200-foot player,” defenseman Brayden McNabb said. “He’s a very smart player, one of the smartest in the game. He’s not the fastest guy but he’s in the right positions and he makes a lot of little plays a lot of people don’t see.”
Stone, 26, will find out if he wins the Selke during the NHL Awards on June 19 at Mandalay Bay Events Center. The Winnipeg, Manitoba native has received votes for the trophy four times prior to this season, but his highest finish was sixth in 2017.
This year was one of Stone’s best as he recorded the third-most takeaways in a single season in league history and finished tied for sixth in blocked shots among forwards with 71. He also made a high-profile move to the Knights when the team acquired him in a trade with the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 25 and gave him an eight-year, $76 million extension March 8.
“He’s a two-way player that does everything real good for you and plays the game the right way,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “The reason why we got him and paid him so much money? Because he’s a superstar.”
Stone’s competition is stiff as O’Reilly, another first-time finalist, led the NHL in faceoff wins with 1,086. Bergeron, a four-time Selke winner and a finalist for the eighth consecutive year, helped the Bruins finish in a tie for the third-fewest goals against in the league (212).
Engelland receives nomination
Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland was named the team’s nominee for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy (humanitarian award) on Wednesday.
Engelland started his Vegas Born Heroes Foundation in September, which publicly recognizes and rewards charities and community members that do good in Las Vegas. Engelland hosted 20 “heroes” at Knights games during the regular season.
The 37-year-old will learn if he is one of three finalists Tuesday.
“Well deserved,” Gallant said. “He’s awesome. Deryk’s been there. He shows up every day to the rink and does his job. He’s a quiet leader and he’s exactly what everybody wants.”
Gusev gets no promises
Knights forward Nikita Gusev, who the team signed to an entry-level deal Sunday, said he received no promises about playing time when he decided to leave Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League for the NHL.
Gusev, 26, is eligible to play in the postseason, but the Knights have not committed to using him.
“It never was guaranteed,” Gusev said through a translator. “It’s about the team. I just want to help the team. If the coaches and team need me, I will be prepared for the game and show the best I can.”