With NHL Awards season near, our writers make a case for each of Martin St. Louis, Matt Moulson and Patrick Kane as a potential winner of the Lady Byng Trophy. Which player is most deserving of the hardware?
Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning
Already the Art Ross Trophy champion and a nominee for the Ted Lindsay Award, Martin St. Louis could well go for three with the Lady Bing.
Known as one of the real “good guys” in the National Hockey League, the Lightning forward augmented his massive year offensively (60 points) with a mere 14 penalty minutes. Additionally, it took St. Louis three months to get his second minor penalty after taking one in early February (an accidental tripping call against the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 7, to be exact).
The 37-year-old native of Laval, QC., has won the award twice before, in 2010 and 2011, and is looking to become the ninth player to win it three times in his career.
St. Louis finished second among NHL forwards in total time on the ice (a total of 1,149 shifts over the course of the season) but took only seven minor penalties in that time.
He also has the chance to become just the third player to win the Art Ross and the Lady Byng in one season; the only other two to do that were Wayne Gretzky (1994) and Stan Mikita (1968). – Jamie Neugebauer
Matt Moulson, New York Islanders
Could this be the year the New York Islanders’ one-two punch gets its due?
If the terminally underrated John Tavares earned enough attention from the hockey world outside of Long Island to garner a Hart Trophy nomination, then perhaps it’s fitting that his running mate, sniper extraordinare Matt Moulson, wins the Lady Byng.
A nominee for the second consecutive season, the 29-year-old Moulson actually decreased his penalty minutes in 2011-12 (six) to four in 2012-13, all while averaging a healthy 19:09 of ice-time. Moulson was penalty-free during the final 37 games of a season that saw the Isles end their playoff drought. He was also an early contributor to the You Can Play projects efforts.
The most underappreciated three-time 30-goal scorer to our knowledge, Moulson improved as a passer this season – the puck decision preferred by gentlemen everywhere.
By notching 29 assists in 47 games, Moulson had his most productive season setting up his teammates. And he still managed to score one himself about once every three games.
Who cares if Moulson’s hairdo is ill-suited to an awards-night tux? Give Moulson his Byng. – Luke Fox
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
Patrick Kane will win the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy because he is the perfect combination of skill and grace.
The 24-year-old native of Buffalo, N.Y., has the talent to take over a hockey game at will with his skating, vision, creativity, and stick handling. In addition, Kane is able to maximize his offensive output by keeping himself on the ice, and out of the penalty box.
In 47 regular season games, the young American registered only eight penalty minutes — the lowest total among the NHL’s top 20 point leaders.
The evolution of the 5’11”, 181-pound forward’s game can be credited to his maturation at the rink.
“It speaks volumes about where my game has gone,” Kane told the Blackhawks’ website. “I used to take a lot of unnecessary penalties.”
Kane is also more than able to contribute on the offensive end.
The Blackhawks’ superstar put together an impressive campaign that saw him finish fifth in NHL scoring with 55 points — 23 goals and 32 assists — while leading Chicago to a Presidents’ Trophy in the regular season. Furthermore, he is a force on the man advantage as he finished 13th in the league with 17 power-play points.
Kane is the player that has “best exhibited sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability,” and if all goes right, should add another Stanley Cup championship to his resume. – Tom Ruminski