The Frank J. Selke Trophy is awarded annually to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.
The award was first handed out after the 1977-78 season; the first recipient was Bob Gainey of the Montreal Canadiens, who won the trophy in the first four years of its existences, a total that has yet to be eclipsed.
Now that the NHL has released the top three vote getters from the 2013-14 NHL season, here's a look at a case to be made for each.
Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
Bergeron leads the field with 30 goals, 243 shots and an even strength Corsi for percentage of 61.2, while posting a five-on-five offensive zone start ratio of 45.7 percent, the lowest of all three top vote getters.
The 28-year-old - who won the award for the first time back in 2012 - led the NHL with 1,015 faceoff wins at a 58.6 percent success rate, tops among the league's top 30 performers on the draw. He also ranked second in the league with a plus-38 rating in 80 games played.
As evidenced in the chart above, Bergeron faced the lowest quality of competition by a slim margin and received the lowest total ice time, but was regularly deployed against top opponents both at even-strength and on the penalty kill (averaging just under two minutes at four-on-five).
Bergeron was a major reason why the Bruins allowed a second-ranked 2.08 goals per game while coming in 12th with 29.1 shots allowed per game.
The 28-year-old is a Selke Trophy finalist for the third straight season and finished runner-up to Toews in 2013.
Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
A two-time winner of his team's 'Best Defensive Player' award (2011, 2013), Kopitar established himself as one of the league's best two-way players.
He leads the field in scoring with 70 points (29 goals, 41 assists), and registered 200 shots on goal with a Corsi for percentage of 61, just a touch behind Bergeron.
Kopitar ranked 11th in faceoff wins with 773 at a success rate of 53.3 percent. He also ranked second overall in total ice time (1,712:45), with an average of two minutes shorthanded per game. Kopitar finished the year with a fourth-ranked rating of plus-34.
As a whole, the Kings allowed a league-low 168 goals against this season and a second-ranked 26.2 shots per game, while Kopitar finished the year with a slightly higher quality of competition rating than Bergeron.
Kopitar is a Selke Trophy finalist for the first time and becomes the first Kings player in franchise history to earn a Selke nomination.
Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
Last year's winner faced the toughest competition but with an offensive zone start ratio of 63.6 percent. He registered 28 goals and added 40 assist for the Blackhawks, with 194 shots on goal and an even-strength Corsi for percentage of 59.3. Toews also finished the year with a plus-26 rating, good for 11th overall.
Toews ranked fifth with 884 faceoff wins (57.2 success rate) and led his team in ice time with 1,555:28 (24th overall), but saw twice as much time on the power play (3:10 per game) than on the penalty kill (1:33 per game).
As a team, Toews' Blackhawks ranked 12th in goals allowed per game (2.58), but fourth in shots allowed per game (27.2).
Toews, 25, is a Selke finalist for the third time in four years.
The NHL awards will be handed out June 24 in Las Vegas.
Feature photo courtesy of REUTERS/Adam Hunger