The NHL continues to release the finalists for the major regular season awards, this time announcing the nominees for the Lady Byng Trophy. The award is given out to “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly play and conduct” and is often given to those players who perform at a high level without taking many penalties. Last year’s winner was Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers, who took just eight penalty minutes all season.
MacKinnon, who is also one of the finalists for the Ted Lindsey, saw his penalty minutes plummet this season even as he took on an even larger role for the Avalanche. The 24-year old center was left without many of his talented running mates for long stretches but managed to still score 93 points and take only 12 PIM. That continued a downward trend since he set his career-high with 55 minutes in 2017-18. MacKinnon has received votes for the Lady Byng on just one occasion previously and has not won an individual award since the Calder Trophy in 2014.
Matthews meanwhile also set a career-low in penalty minutes, but his total of eight isn’t surprising given how few he’s taken in his career so far. Through four seasons and 282 games, the Toronto superstar has amassed just 46 PIM and has finished in the top-8 for Lady Byng voting in each. He too has only taken home a Calder Trophy among individual awards, though he trailed David Pastrnak and Alex Ovechkin by just a single tally for this year’s Rocket Richard.
O’Reilly represents the only past winner of the Lady Byng among the finalists. He took it home in 2014 when he took just a single minor penalty all season. That’s a feat he repeated in 2018, but he ended up losing the award to William Karlsson of the Vegas Golden Knights. Though such a strong defensive center, O’Reilly has been one of the best players in the entire league at staying out of the penalty box. He has just 106 PIM over an 11-year, 804-game career and hasn’t taken more than 12 in a season since he was a teenager. In addition to the Lady Byng he won in 2014, O’Reilly also won the Selke and Conn Smythe trophies last season with the St. Louis Blues.