On Saturday, the NHL named Aleksander Barkov, Loui Eriksson and Anze Kopitar finalists for the 2016 Lady Byng Trophy, honoring “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”
Barkov served as a leader on a Florida Panthers team that set a franchise record for wins (47), points (103) and grabbed the second division title in team history. He registered just eight penalty minutes, a career low that tied for the fewest penalty minutes among the league’s top 50 scorers.
He’s never put up more than 16 penalty minutes in a season and nearly hit a point per game pace with 59 points in 66 contests.
Eriksson had a strong bounce back year for the Boston Bruins, scoring 63 points (30-33-63), his most since the 2011-12 season. He finished up with six minor penalties for 12 penalty minutes, which is the fourth fewest penalty minutes and penalties by any player who played in all 82 games this season. It is also the fewest penalty minutes he’s registered since the 2011-12 season.
This is his second time being a Lady Byng finalist (2010-11 with Dallas), he finished third in voting that year. he also finished fourth in 2012.
“It is a great honor to be considered for the Lady Byng Trophy, an award that has been won by some of the best players of all time,” Eriksson said in a statement. “There are many deserving candidates so to be named one of the finalists with Anze Kopitar and Aleksander Barkov is very exciting for me. Thank you to my teammates and the coaching staff and I appreciate all those who voted.”
Kopitar put up 74 points (25-49-74) this season to lead the Kings for the ninth straight year. In doing so, he helped the Kings to a franchise record in wins (48). Despite playing more minutes than any forward in the NHL, he accrued just 16 penalty minutes. That’s particularly impressive given Koptiar’s physical style of play.
This is the second straight year Kopitar has been a Byng finalist, and he would be the Kings first winner since Wayne Gretzky won the trophy in the 1993-94 season. He has been top-10 in Byng voting six times in his career.
The winner of the 2016 Lady Byng Trophy will be named at the NHL Awards on June 22 in Las Vegas.
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.