Nathan MacKinnon for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
RON CHENOY, USA TODAY SPORTS

In my last article we discussed the Jack Adams award for best coach. If you didn’t know by now I’m a Colorado Avalanche fan so obviously I’m backing my man Jared Bednar to pick up the award based on not just this season but his previous two as well. Now it’s time to move on to the player awards, starting with The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy and again I’m going with a player from my Avalanche. Sorry are my colors showing!?!

The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, formerly known as the Lady Byng Trophy, is presented each year to the National Hockey League “player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability”. Using those two standards, today I’ll be making my case for Nathan MacKinnon to be this year’s winner.

Jared Bednar deserves the Jack Adams Award

Let’s start with sportsmanship. MacKinnon has racked up only 12 Penalty Ice Minutes (PIM) to date this season over 69 games, that equates to 0.10 penalty ice minutes per game (per NHL.com stats). This puts him joint 12th with six other players including Noah Hanifin and Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames. Not a great start, I admit, but then you look at the second part of the equation “combined with a high standard of playing ability”.

Of the possible winners (Aston Matthews and Ryan O’Reilly would be my guess) not one of them come close to matching MacKinnon’s 1.35 points per game ratio. Matthews is closest with 1.17 while O’Reilly, a previous winner of the award in 2013-14 when he was part of the Colorado Avalanche, is only averaging 0.86 points per game. Matthews has 8 PIM while O’Reilly has 10. Does the small difference there outweigh the substantial gap in points per game? To me… No.

Luckily for Nathan MacKinnon (or unluckily if you remember the Hart Trophy fiasco of 2017-18) the award is voted on by the members of the media and not fellow players. If it was I don’t think he’d be getting the vote of Ryan Getzlaf after he did this to the Anaheim Ducks center

Or Defenseman Quinn Hughes of the Vancouver Canuck

The likelihood of MacKinnon actually winning is slim, given he will most likely be up against poster child of the last NHL game (Matthews) and someone who just won a Stanley Cup (O’Reilly), but everything is there to at least have him in the conversation.

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