Last year was a banner year for Ryan O’Reilly in the awards category. Along with winning the Conn Smythe for the most valuable player in the Stanley Cup playoffs, he also won the Frank J. Selke Trophy last season for best defensive forward.
This year’s NHL Award nominees are being released on a day-by-day basis, and today’s announcement of the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy includes O’Reilly as a finalist, along with Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche. The Lady Byng is awarded “to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.” From the NHL’s press release:
Ryan O’Reilly, C, St. Louis Blues
O’Reilly led the reigning Stanley Cup champion Blues with 12-49—61 in 71 games to power the team to the highest points percentage in the Western Conference (.662; 42-19-10). He topped the NHL in both face-off wins (880) and face-offs taken (1,556), ranking 10th among qualifying players with a 56.6 face-off winning percentage. O’Reilly received five minor penalties (10 PIM), the sixth time in his 11 NHL seasons he has totaled 10 or fewer penalty minutes, while ranking seventh in the League in takeaways (69) and 10th among NHL forwards in total time on ice (1,460:45). The 29-year-old Clinton, Ont., native – who previously won the Lady Byng Trophy in 2013-14 (w/ COL) – is a finalist for the award for the third straight season, following second-place finishes in both 2018-19 (w/ STL) and 2017-18 (w/ BUF). He is looking to become the fourth player to capture the trophy with the Blues, joining Phil Goyette (1969-70), Brett Hull (1989-90) and Pavol Demitra (1999-2000).
O’Reilly is no stranger to Lady Byng consideration and was, as the league mentioned, nominated for it last year as well. He has some significant competition this year from Matthews and MacKinnon, certainly, but him winning the award this season would be more than deserved.