The NHL continues its daily revealing of award finalists, and Saturday’s is the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy. The award is voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and is given “to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.” The finalists for the award are Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin and Wild blueliner Jared Spurgeon.
Matthews led the league in goals this season with 41, picking up his first career Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy along the way. He logged plenty of ice time, finishing fifth among NHL forwards in ATOI at 21:33 per game, and despite that, he collected only 10 penalty minutes over his 50 games this season. Among the top 25 scorers in the league, only Rangers winger Artemi Panarin had fewer penalty minutes (six), but he also played in eight fewer games. It’s the second straight season that Matthews is a finalist for the award after finishing second in balloting last year.
Slavin, meanwhile, has been quite disciplined in terms of staying out of the box throughout his six-year NHL career, but he took that to a whole new level this season. In 52 games this season, he logged 22:59 per game and had a grand total of one minor penalty. That infraction was for delay of game. Through his 429-game career, Slavin has a total of 60 penalty minutes. It’s his first time being a finalist for this award (he was fourth in voting in 2020), but at the rate he’s going, it won’t be his last.
As for Spurgeon, he has recorded no more than 20 penalty minutes in a single season in his 11-year career and was called for only three minor penalties in 2020-21 despite averaging more than 22 minutes a game; the only player to play that much and spend less time in the sin bin was Slavin. This is also Spurgeon’s first time as a finalist for the award, but he has received a vote in each of the previous six years.
The award winners will be revealed throughout the final two rounds of the playoffs with the dates and order of announcements still to be determined.