The Calgary Flames are in the midst of one of the best seasons in their franchise’s history. As a result, several of their top players are likely to be in consideration for major awards. At the NHL’s unofficial midway point, let’s assess the candidacy of Sean Monahan for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy.
The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy is awarded to the player who exhibited outstanding sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability. It’s named after Lady Byng of Vimy, 40th viceregal consort of Canada, who donated the original trophy to the league.
The winner is determined by a vote of the Professional Hockey Writers Association at the end of the regular season.
- 2017-18: William Karlsson (Vegas)
- 2016-17: Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary)
- 2015-16: Anze Kopitar (Los Angeles)
Last year’s voting leaders
(Voting points awarded on a 10-7-5-3-1 basis.)
|William Karlsson (VGK)||915||57||32||15||12||10||78||12|
|Ryan O’Reilly (BUF)||654||38||11||23||23||13||61||2|
|Aleksander Barkov (FLA)||493||10||30||29||8||14||78||14|
|Anze Kopitar (LAK)||471||13||31||15||12||13||92||20|
|Jared Spurgeon (MIN)||202||6||8||10||10||6||37||8|
Karlsson was the player in the top 25 in scoring with the fewest penalty minutes and won fairly easily. The general tendency in voting patterns has been to award a high scoring player (“high standard of playing ability”) that didn’t take a lot of penalties (“exhibited outstanding sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct”).
Defensemen do get votes, but usually on the lower part of the ballots. Two blueliners were in the top 10 in 2017-18 and one in 2016-17. Brian Campbell was the last defender to win it in 2011-12 (and that was the first time one won it since 1953-54). By nature of the position, it’s usually tough for prominent defenders to avoid taking a lot of penalties.
Handicapping Monahan’s candidacy
In an ideal world, the Lady Byng would be determined by a mixture of productivity (points per 60 minutes) and low penalty minutes (per 60) or penalty differential (per 60). Of the top 50 players in points per 60 minutes (all situations, minimum 500 minutes played), the top players at avoiding penalties are Auston Matthews (0.1 penalties per 60), Tomas Hertl (0.21), Matt Duchene (0.24), Logan Couture (0.25), Alex Tuch (0.25) and Elias Pettersson (0.26). By this measure, Monahan’s competitive with 0.31 penalties per 60, but he’s not a runaway leader.
Monahan has 61 points (10th overall) and 10 penalty minutes – Artemi Panarin also has 10 penalty minutes, but has fewer points. Monahan plays a ton of hockey in key situations and doesn’t take a lot of penalties (and hasn’t developed a reputation as a dirty player). Based on how voters traditionally cast their ballots, he’s in great shape.