NHL awards: Predicting the Lady Byng Trophy winner in 2020

HELSINKI, FINLAND - NOVEMBER 02: Aleksander Barkov #16 of the Florida Panthers skates in the third period against the Winnipeg Jets during the 2018 NHL Global Series game at Hartwall Arena on November 2, 2018 in Helsinki, Finland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)
HELSINKI, FINLAND - NOVEMBER 02: Aleksander Barkov #16 of the Florida Panthers skates in the third period against the Winnipeg Jets during the 2018 NHL Global Series game at Hartwall Arena on November 2, 2018 in Helsinki, Finland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The Lady Byng Trophy goes to the most gentlemanly player in the NHL, while maintaining offensive excellence. It’s a rare blend of talent. Who will win take at the Lady Byng at the NHL awards?

One of the hardest-hitting games, hockey is constantly spoken about regarding its toughness and grit. It’s one of the only sports where you can hit and the only team sport where you can fight. It’s also the sport with, arguably, the most recognized trophy for sportsmanship. Let’s talk about one of the most prestigious NHL awards – the Lady Byng Trophy.

As of Oct. 1st, the odds to win the Lady Byng Trophy, according to sportsbettingdsime.com has Aleksander Barkov as the best bet, followed by Ryan O’Reilly and Sean Monahan.  Vegas odds are often correct, but not always. Here’s my prediction for the Lady Byng Trophy in 2019-20.

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Runner Up: Anze Kopitar

Last season was a forgettable one for the Los Angeles Kings. Just about nothing went the way it should have.  And although the team may not do too much better in the standings according to most, Anze Kopitar will remember his winning ways.

In the last 10 years, only 43 times has a player scored at least 70 points and 20 penalty minutes or less. Even more interestingly, only seven players have done it more than once. The Slovenian beast is not only one of those seven, but he has also done it five times. ‘

Runner Up: Ryan O’Reilly

Ryan O’Reilly is the only player in the last ten seasons to be nominated for the award for two different teams. I’ll be the first one to admit that when he signed his big-money contract with the Buffalo Sabres, I thought Tim Murray had lost his mind a bit but it turns out I was wrong.

There is a reason he has been so highly sought out any time a general manager could get the chance. His rare blend of offensive prowess, combined with defensive mastery is insane. Despite playing 736 career games, he hasn’t even earned 100 penalty minutes yet. That’s not even accounting that he is constantly among the points leaders on his team.

It seems he’s really found a niche with the St. Louis Blues. In Colorado, the team was young and inexperienced. In Buffalo, he was counted on to carry the offense. But with the Blues, he can finally do his thing.  I’d pick him to win, but there is one who will beat him.

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Wild Card: Elias Pettersson

I’d have to really go through the data, but I am fairly certain it’s not often the Lady Byng goes to a player in their second year. But what a year Elias Pettersson had  He crushed the rookie scoring race by over 20 points, despite only playing 71 games. But as good as his scoring was, it was almost more impressive that he didn’t take penalties.

As a rookie, it is so much easier to be penalized. Players are suddenly faster, stronger and have a drive you aren’t used to before entering the NHL. Add to that, trying to learn how things go in the big leagues and new systems, it’s easy to get caught red-handed with an extra hook every now and then.

By comparison, all other rookies who scored at least 40 points had at least double the penalty minutes, and even when you look at the Vancouver Canucks, he had the second least of guys who played in 27 or more games. He won the Calder for a good reason and I’ll bet that one year, he’ll win this award. Not just yet though.

Winner: Aleksander Barkov

After Pavel Datsyuk and Martin St. Louis owned the award for years, there has been a different winner every season, over the past six years. This season, however, will break the streak. With the exception of his third season, Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers has scored more points each season he’s been in the NHL, while remaining out of the penalty box for the most part.

Sometimes you just have to go with the experts. There isn’t much stopping him from being the first repeat winner in six seasons. Barkov has either won or been a finalist in three of the last four seasons and having just freshly turned 24 years old, we haven’t seen even near his best yet.

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In his six-season career, the most penalty minutes he’s ever accrued is 16.  He has two-thirds of his career with 10 penalty minutes or less, for crying out loud! He simply is what the trophy symbolizes. We might have another Datsyuk or St. Louis here. Just hand it to him now.