Gaudreau: Lady Byng Contender?

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.

At all.

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.

  • RKD

    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. Yup that sounds like Johnny Hockey. I would love to see Gaudreau win the Lady Byng, Hartley win the Adams and Gio win the Norris. I would trade all those awards for a playoff spot though.

  • RedMan

    Sooooooooooooo……

    Bennett is skating in full practice with full contact.

    Looks like management is assessing whether to send him to the AHL to condition or throw him in the fire.

    • piscera.infada

      Flames management is simply to intelligent to throw him in the fire! I am sure that is not an option they are considering as it would potentially risk his health and confidence. He is a developing 18 year old coming off major surgery and has not played competitively in almost a year…..

  • redricardo

    With the Flames fighting for their playoff lives, my assumption is he gets sent back to junior. Now’s not the time to be experimenting with every game so important and so tense.. I believe it would be best to ease him back into Kingston and go from there.

    • RedMan

      prioritizing player deployment to maximize chance of a playoff run is one possible philosophy and strategy, and may well be that of the management. can this be done without hampering player development/rebuilding, which has been the stated goal of the team?

      This isn’t Klimchuck we are talking about afterall, but an extremely gifted player with the potential to be a star, and the highest pick ever for the Flames.

      If Flames choose to send him to the AHL for conditioning (that’s my guess) they will know a lot more about the playoff implications at the end of the conditioning stint. these next two weeks should see some teams cement a position and some teams drop from contention.

      Really – making the payoffs would be nice, but not making them would not be an issue for me personally, especially if attempting to make the playoffs includes either delaying the development of key prospects or god forbid the team becoming a buyer of “vets” like Chris Stewart of Tyler Bozak, as reports indicate. Please, NO!!!

      Send Bennett to the “A” for two weeks and see where the Flames are then. If they are 5 points back – bring hi up. Otherwise, if Flames are still in the hunt, only bring him up if his play merits.

      In my opinion, sending him to the CHL is a step in the wrong direction, especially since the team has options to asses him in the pros first without any downside.

  • redricardo

    Why send him back right away? You need to evaluate all your options, and as soon as you send him to the OHL, that’s it. He’s gone for the year, that’s your only option.

    Send him on a 2 week conditioning stint. Costs you nothing, and you get to see where he’s at. Send him to the OHL after that if you want.

    • redricardo

      …as soon as you send him to the OHL, that’s it. He’s gone for the year, that’s your only option.

      That’s not quite true. When Kingston’s season ends he can go anywhere, no restrictions until next season. If Kingston gets bounced, he can be sent to Adirondack or Calgary, either one, for the playoffs (or whatever is left of the regular season, if anything).

  • MattyFranchise

    Personally, I think Gaudreau is a better Lady Byng candidate than Calder Candidate. IMO he finishes 3rd in Calder; Forsberg and Ekblad are both younger, and Ekblad (the youngest of the three) is already a first pair Dman. First pair defense trumps first line wing.

        • piscera.infada

          I’ll admit. I definitely thought that, and I’ll admit I was wrong. I still don’t think he was worth some of those lofty deals people were suggesting (or, what it probably would have taken) to move up and take him first overall though (4th overall + Backlund; or 4th overall + Gaudreau; etc.).

          I dunno, kid’s a great hockey player, but I’m very, very excited for Bennett. I’m still unsure if I would have traded up to take Ekblad over him (all things being equal), but Ekblad is a lot better than I thought he’d be as an 18 year-old.

    • Koolmoedee

      Except Ekblad isn’t a first-pairing defenceman. Ekblad plays some of the most sheltered minutes of any defenceman in the league. His offensive zone starts are around 58% and he plays against some of the weakest competition.

      Dennis Wideman has tougher usage stats than Ekblad, and Wideman is no first-pair defenceman.

      Ekblad has done a fine job with his minutes, but Florida has been sheltering him as much as they can.

  • Greg

    Seriously though, he’s having a heck of a rookie season. I would have been ecstatic if he just cleared 40 points all year, let alone doing that with 30ish games left and a penalties drawn-to-taken ratio of infinity.