Kyle Connor, Jaccob Slavin and Jared Spurgeon were named finalists for the Lady Byng Trophy on Wednesday.
The award is given annually to the player chosen best to combine sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct and ability as voted by the Professional Hockey Writers Association. The winner will be announced as part of the 2022 NHL Awards during the conference finals or Stanley Cup Final.
Connor led the Winnipeg Jets and set NHL career highs in goals (47), assists (46) and points (93) in 79 games this season. He was assessed two minor penalties, the fewest among the NHL’s top 100 scorers (minimum, 50 games), while leading Winnipeg forwards in ice time per game (21:47). He was 12th among all skaters in takeaways (66). A first-time finalist, Connor would be the first Jets/Atlanta Thrashers player to win the award.
Slavin, who led the Carolina Hurricanes in ice time per game (23:32), was assessed five minor penalties in 79 games, often while playing against the opposition’s top line. The defenseman scored an NHL career-high 42 points (four goals, 38 assists) and was plus-35. He helped Carolina (54-20-8) to first place in the Metropolitan Division, the fourth straight season it qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“Obviously, it’s always an honor to be named a finalist for any award but for me that’s a character award,” Slavin said. “One of the things I like to focus on is just positioning and obviously skating is huge, just making sure I’m in a good position to set myself up where I don’t have to take reaching physical penalties. player really so I don’t have to worry too much about roughing penalties, but just good positioning, good skating ability and good stickwork, not reaching and not trying to ever chase guys.”
Slavin won the Lady Byng last season and would be the first player to win the award in back-to-back seasons since Martin St. Louis with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2009-10 and 2010-11. The only defenseman to win it in consecutive seasons was Red Kelly of the Detroit Red Wings in 1951-52 and 1952-53.
“I talked the other day about awards and naming them for players, you could name [the Lady Byng] after [Slavin] and everyone would get it,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “Plays the right away and does it at a high level. The [penalties] are usually a flip over the glass or a missed call to be honest with you because he’s so good at it. It’s special.”
Spurgeon led Minnesota Wild defenseman with 40 points (10 goals, 30 assists) and was plus-32 in 65 games. Minnesota’s captain was assessed five minor penalties while finishing third on the Wild in average time on ice per game (21:09).
Spurgeon, who was runner-up last season, helped Minnesota (53-22-7) finish second in the Central Division and set team records for most wins and points (113) in a season. He would be the first Wild player to win the award.
NHL.com senior writer Dan Rosen contributed to this report