Around these parts, the success of the Calgary Flames have led to awards chatter – particularly now that the season is getting down to brass tacks.
We’ve heard it all. Bob Hartley for Jack Adams! Mark Giordano for the Norris (and/or Hart)! Johnny Gaudreau for the Calder! But amidst all the hustle and bustle, something quiet has happened.
Johnny Gaudreau has become the leading contender, perhaps, for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy.
The Lady Byng has been annually given out by the league since 1924-25. The award is described as follows:
The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy is an annual award 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 winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’
Association at the end of the regular season; each individual voter
ranks his top five candidates on a 10-7-5-3-1 points system. Three
finalists are named and the trophy is awarded at the NHL Awards ceremony
after the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
In practice, this definition has led sportswriters to traditionally vote for offensive players that play a ton of minutes but don’t take a lot of penalties. In this sense, Gaudreau becomes a really strong contender. Flames legend Joey Mullen won this particular trophy twice, if that gives you an indicator of what types win it.
Through 54 games played, Johnny Gaudreau has 41 points. He’s third on his club in points and second among rookies in the entire National Hockey League. And through 54 games, he hasn’t taken any penalties.
Through approximately the first 905 on-ice minutes of his NHL career, Gaudreau hasn’t been nabbed for a violation once. He’s drawn 16 penalties for the Flames. The next most-stingy NHLer is Mark Letestu, who has played 341 minutes. The only other guys in their neighbourhood are Boston’s Zach Trotman (275 minutes) and L.A.’s Jamie McBain (267 minutes).
The Islanders’ Matt Moulson has one penalty in 899 minutes, but he’s also only drawn five calls himself. Detroit’s Darren Helm isn’t a high-octane offensive contributor, but he’s drawn 14 penalties and taken just one himself in 797 minutes. Both of them are probably in the mix, too.
But for a first-year NHLer, who is tiny and playing in the land of giants to contribute 41 points is damn impressive. To do so without taking any penalties whatsoever is astounding. So don’t be shocked if Gaudreau is among the candidates for the Lady Byng when the season is over.