Moulson to Win 2013 Lady Byng Trophy – A Statistical Proof

The Lady  Byng Trophy might not be the most impressive trophy out there, or the one NHL players would most like to put on their mantels.  The Hart Trophy goes to the most valuable player. The Art Ross to the league’s scoring leader. The Selke, to the best defensive forward.  The Vezina to the best goaltender. Those are some pretty straightforward concepts there.

Most gentlemanly?  What does that even mean?  Officially, the award goes to the player “adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

In practice, the Lady Byng Trophy has found its way to the highest-scoring player with the fewest penalty minutes.

Brian Campbell Panthers
In 2012, Florida’s Brian Campbell became the first defenseman to win the Lady Byng Trophy in over 50 years. (James Guillory-US PRESSWIRE)

This year’s finalists are Chicago’s Patrick Kane, Matt Moulson of the Islanders, and Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis.  This is the first nomination for Kane and second for Moulson.  St. Louis is a two-time winner of the Lady Byng.  He’s apparently figured out this whole ‘gentlemanly’ thing.

So have I.  At least, mathematically-speaking.

Calculating Victory

If we’re looking purely at stats, we just need the right combination to predict this year’s winner.  Based on the data, unless he gets a sympathetic vote as a repeat-winner/old guy, St. Louis will not be taking home this particular piece of hardware.

So how does it work?

Brandon Prust montreal hockey
Neither Brandon Prust nor Steve Ott are Lady Byng material. (Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports)

Let’s start with points.  First, we take the player’s total points and divide by penalty minutes to calculate the points-per-PIM number.  We all acknowledge that the winner should have the best performance with the fewest penalties.  We need to weight the scoring more heavily, though, so let’s use points squared and divide that number by the penalty minute total.

We want our winner’s “high standard of play” to include both sides of the puck, so let’s add their plus-minus rating to our total; as it’s not as strong of a direct indicator of performance, we’ll divide it in half to reduce its influence a bit.

Next, we don’t want this number skewed by a player who saw limited action, so let’s multiply the whole thing by percentage of games played.   Boom.  There’s our scoring number.

Oh, a few exclusions.   Gentlemanly players don’t fight. Any players with fighting majors that season are immediately disqualified.   Also, winners make the playoffs; players whose teams missed the postseason are not eligible to win.  Got it?

86.7% Accuracy (Or .867 Save Percentage, if you’re a goalie)

Before we get to this year’s winner, let’s take a look back.  Our formula accurately predicted the Lady Byng winner in 13 of 15 seasons, with one notable retirement-bound player getting a sympathetic win.

  • 2012: Matt Moulson, Jordan Eberle, and Kyle Wellwood all scored higher than eventual winner Brian Campbell. The problem? All three missed the playoffs, leaving Campbell as the highest man standing. Moulson and Eberle were the other two finalists.
  • 2011: Martin St. Louis topped our list and brought home the award. Loui Eriksson, second on our list, and Nicklas Lidstrom were the other two finalists.
  • 2010: Number one on our list was the eventual winner, Martin St. Louis.  Brad Richards and Pavel Datsyuk were the other two finalists.  Richards was third on our list behind the overlooked Brandon Sutter, then with the Carolina Hurricanes.  While his point totals were much lower than the final three, he only took one minor penalty in 72 games.
  • 2009: Another year with Martin St. Louis in the top spot.  In 2009, though, the Lightning missed the playoffs.  That left Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk as the next highest eligible player and the man who claimed the trophy for the fourth straight year.
Pavel Datsyuk Red Wings
Pavel Datsyuk has four Lady Byng wins, the most of any active player. (Icon SMI)
  • 2008: Pavel Datsyuk number one, Pavel Datsyuk wins again!  Mathematically, Jason Pominville and Alex Ovechkin were next.
  • 2007: Pavel Datsyuk barely edged out runner-up Martin St. Louis, both in the actual voting and on our list.
  • 2006: Datsyuk outpaced Patrick Marleau and Brad Richards to claim his first Lady Byng.
  • 2004: Brad Richards rode his 79-point season and six minor penalties to an easy win over Martin St. Louis and Brett Hull.
  • 2003: Did you remember that Alexander Mogilny won a Lady Byng? He dominated our runners up, Milan Hejduk and Steve Rucchin.
  • 2002: WRONG.  Our formula called for Tomas Kaberle to take home the award. His 39 points and only 2 penalty minutes put him way ahead of runners-up Joe Sakic and Alexander Mogilny. Unfortunately, the voters were swayed by an impressive year from 39-year-old Ron Francis, who piled up 77 points with 18 penalty minutes.
  • 2001: Joe Sakic had a high number of penalty minutes (30), at least by Lady Byng standards. His reputation, along with his 118-point season, earned him our top score and the hardware.
  • 2000: The award went to Pavol Demitra, who also led our scoring, ahead of Teemu Selanne, Sergei Berezhin, and Pavel Bure
  • 1999: WRONG.  Mathematically, this one should have gone to Pavol Demitra. Teemu Selanne and Sami Kapanen were right behind him, followed closely by Joe Sakic.  Instead, the award was given to a man in his final year in the league.  A man who scored too little to claim anything short of a sympathetic vote for a career of grace and class.  Wayne Gretzky won the award, despite being 13th on our list. You know what? That’s just fine by me.
  • 1998: Ronnie Francis beat out Wayne Gretzky on our list.  Voters felt the same.
  • 1997: Back when the Ducks were Mighty, Paul Kariya beat out Ray Sheppard to claim his second Lady Byng.
Matt Moulson Islanders
Will Matt Moulson bring the Lady Byng to back to Long Island? Pierre Turgeon claimed the award exactly 20 years ago.  (Icon SMI)

2013 Lady Byng Winner

So how does it work out for the 2013 Lady Byng nominees?

Martin St. Louis is a perennial favorite who will certainly garnish his share of votes. He did pick up 14 minutes in penalties, his highest penalties-per-game total in five seasons. He also led the league in scoring, which is hard to overlook.  On our sheet, though, he was outpaced by Patrick Kane, Logan Couture, and the predicted winner, Matt Moulson of the New York Islanders.

Moulson posted 44 points – 15 goals and 29 assists – in 47 games while only picking up two minor penalties.  He was called for tripping Andy Greene of the Devils on February 3 and for holding the Rangers’ J.T. Miller just two days later. With the team in the midst of a five-game losing streak, it’s safe to say that was a frustrating week for Moulson.

Will Moulson win it?  We’ll find out Friday afternoon, when the NHL inexplicably announce the winners of the Lady Byng, Masteron, Selke, and Adams awards via live stream on and on the NHL Network.  The Calder, Hart, Lindsay, Vezina, and Norris will be announced just prior to Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Of course, the cat may already be out of the bag on the Norris

Follow Josh on Twitter – @joshsmith29