Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Matthews and Ryan O’Reilly are named finalists for the Lady Byng Trophy. The NHL has also announced finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award, Calder Trophy and Jack Adams Award. The award is given to the NHL player that best combines sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct and ability and voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. The Lady Byng Trophy winner will be announced during the conference finals.
With that being said, let’s talk a closer look at the Lady Byng Trophy finalists.
Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
This will be the first time MacKinnon is named a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy. The Aves center is also a finalist for the Ted Lindsay Award along with Edmonton Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl and New York Rangers’ Artemi Panarin. MacKinnon came in fifth in league standings in points with 93 (35 goals, 58 assists) and third in even-strength points with 62. He also leads the league in ice time averaging 21:13 per game. The Ted Lindsay finalist was only assessed five minor penalties (12 minutes in total) during this season making these numbers the fewest in his seven year NHL career.
The Avalanche are one of four round-robin teams in the Western Conference and will play as the no. 2 seed. They are set to play the Vegas Golden Knights, Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues during the round-robin games of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.
Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs,
Matthews recorded a career-high in both goals (47) and points (80) in 70 games this season. The Maple Leafs all-star scored 12 power-play goals and averaged 20:58 ice time per game coming in second among Maple Leafs forwards. Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner comes in first averaging 21:33 ice time per game. Matthews was assessed four minor penalties (eight minutes in total) making him the top player on this list with the fewest minor penalties taken this season. This is also Matthews’ first time being a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy.
“That’s just kind of how I’ve always played the game,” Matthews said. “It’s not such a fun place to watch the game from the penalty box. I prefer to spend my time not there. I’m not overly physical or kind of an in-your-face kind of player. I just kind of try to use my body position and try to use my stick.”
The No. 8 seed Maple Leafs are set to play the No. 9 seed Carolina Hurricanes during the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers in a best-of-five series to determine who moves on to the playoffs.
Ryan O’Reilly, St. Louis Blues
O’Reilly is a four-time finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy and was the runner-up last year with the award going to Florida Panthers’ Alexsander Barkov. The Conn Smythe winner recorded 61 points (12 goals, 49 assists) and led the league in face-off wins (880) for the third time. He also averaged the most ice time per game out of all the St. Louis Blues forwards averaging 20:34 ice time. The Blues center was only assessed five minor penalties (10 minutes in total) in 71 games. This the seventh time in his NHL career in which he’s taken five or fewer penalties.
“I take a lot of pride in being hard to play against,” O’Reilly said. “Try to frustrate guys and either draw penalties or force them to take penalties. As a player, I do what I can to make it tough on the other guys and when I can do that and frustrate and not get penalized for it and be respected for it is obviously something I am proud of.”
The St. Louis Blues are also one of four round-robin teams in the Western Conference and will play as the no. 1 seed. They are set to play the Vegas Golden Knights, Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche.
The 2020 NHL Awards was scheduled to happen on June 25 in Las Vegas. It was postponed on March 25 due to the ongoing pandemic.