According to Sportsnet’s John Shannon, Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, and St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly are the nominees for the Lady Byng Trophy this season. The award is given to the league’s most “gentlemanly” player each year.
MacKinnon, 24, finished the 2019-20 season with only 12 penalty minutes in 69 games before the season paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
O’Reilly, 29, had only 10 penalty minutes in 71 games for the Blues this season before play paused.
Matthews, 22, recorded only eight penalty minutes in 70 games for the Maple Leafs this season.
MacKinnon was also nominated for the Ted Lindsay Award, which is given to the NHL’s MVP voted on by the players, earlier this week.
Among all Capitals’ players who played more than 20 games, defenseman Nick Jensen finished with the least amount of time in the penalty box (13 penalty minutes in 69 games).
The award winners will be announced during the third round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. You can find dates for when the nominees will be announced throughout this week here.
The award, voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, is given annually to the NHL player who best combines sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct and ability. The winner will be announced during the conference finals.
MacKinnon, a center, was fifth in the NHL with 93 points (35 goals, 58 assists) and was plus-13, leading Colorado Avalanche forwards in average ice time per game (21:13) before the season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. He was assessed five minor penalties totaling 12 minutes, each the fewest of his seven NHL seasons, and was tied for third in the NHL in net penalties at plus-18 (23 drawn, five taken). A first-time finalist, MacKinnon would be the third Avalanche player to win the award and first since O’Reilly in 2013-14.
The Avalanche (42-20-8, .657 points percentage) finished with the second-best record in the Western Conference and will play in the round-robin of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers with the St. Louis Blues (.662), Vegas Golden Knights (.606) and Dallas Stars (.594) to determine the top four seeds in the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the West.
MacKinnon was named a finalist for the Ted Lindsay award on Monday. The award is given annually to the most outstanding player in the NHL as voted by fellow members of the NHL Players’ Association.
Matthews finished third in the League with an NHL career-high 47 goals and an NHL career-best 80 points in 70 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs this season. The center had 12 power-play goals and was plus-19, averaging 20:58 of ice time per game, second among Toronto forwards, and was assessed four minor penalties totaling eight minutes. It is the first Lady Byng nomination for Matthews, who would be the first Maple Leafs player to win the award since Alexander Mogilny in 2002-03.
The Maple Leafs (36-25-9, .579), the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, will play the Columbus Blue Jackets (33-22-15, .579), the No. 9 seed, in one of eight best-of-5 series in the Qualifiers with the winner advancing to the playoffs.
O’Reilly scored 61 points (12 goals, 49 assists) and was plus-11, leading the League in face-off wins for the third straight season (880) and led St. Louis Blues forwards in average ice time per game (20:34). The center was assessed five minor penalties totaling 10 minutes in 71 games this season, the seventh time in his 11 NHL seasons he’s taken five or fewer. He is a four-time finalist for the award, including each of the past three seasons, and was runner-up to Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers last season.
“It’s a special thing,” O’Reilly told the Blues website. “For myself, I take a lot of pride to be able to impact the game and also be respected in it, stay out of the (penalty) box and be respected that way. [I can] be one that’s respected by refs and feel like whenever guys are freaking out, I can kind of be a calm voice there. … To be recognized for that is an amazing thing.”
The Blues (42-19-10) finished with the best record in the West to qualify for the playoffs.
The 2020 NHL Awards were scheduled for June 18 in Las Vegas but were postponed March 25.
By Harrison Brown