Kyle Connor, Jacob Slavin and Jared Spurgeon were shortlisted for the Lady Bing Trophy on Wednesday.
According to the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, the award is given annually to the best selected player for a combination of sportsmanship, good manners and ability. The winner will be announced as part of the 2022 NHL Awards during the Conference Final or Stanley Cup Final.
Connor led the Winnipeg Jets and set NHL career highs in 79 games this season with goals (47), assists (46) and points (93). He was awarded two minor penalties, the lowest of the NHL’s top 100 scorers (at least, 50 games), while leading the Winnipeg Forwards in ice time in each game (21:47). He was 12th in all the skaters at Takeway (66). The first-time finalist, Connor will be the first Jets / Atlanta Thrashers player to win the award.
Slavin, who led the Carolina Hurricanes in snowy per game (23:32), was awarded five minor penalties in 79 games, often against the opposition’s top panel. The defender scored the highest 42 points (four goals, 38 assists) of his NHL career and was a plus-35. He helped Carolina (54-20-8) win first place in the metropolitan division for the fourth consecutive season qualifying for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“Obviously, it is always an honor to be nominated in the finals for any award, but for me it is a worthy award,” Slavin said. “One of the things I like to focus on is just positioning and obviously skating is great, just making sure I’m in a good position to set myself up where I don’t have to impose penalties. I’m not a physical athlete so I don’t have to worry too much about a tough penalty, but just good positioning, good skating ability and good stickwork, never reaching out and never trying to chase kids. “
Slavin won Lady Bing last season and will be the first player to win the award back-to-back season with the 2009-10 and 2010-11 Martin St. Louis Tampa Bay Lightning. Red Kelly of the Detroit Red Wings was the only defender to win consecutive seasons in 1951-52 and 1952-53.
“I talked about the awards the other day and naming them for the players. You can name [Lady Bing] after [Slavin] and everyone will get it,” said Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amor. “Plays right away and plays at a high level. [Penalty] is usually a flip on the glass or a missed call to be honest with you because he’s so good at it. It’s special.”
Spurgeon led the Minnesota Wild Defender with 40 points (10 goals, 30 assists) and was a plus-32 in 65 games. The Minnesota skipper was assessed five minor penalties as he finished third in the Wild at an average time per game (21:09).
Spurgeon, runners-up last season, helped Minnesota (53-22-7) finish second in the Central Division and set the team record for most wins and points (113) in a single season. He will be the first wild player to win this award.