2023 Oil Rig Awards: Lady Byng Memorial Trophy

In the lead-up to the 2023 NHL Awards in Nashville on June 26, we here at The Oil Rig have put together our own version of the program. We voted on each of the awards, the Jack Adams Award, Lady Byng Trophy, Selke Trophy, Norris Trophy, Calder Trophy, Vezina Trophy, and Hart Trophy, to give out our own accolades.

The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the player voted to have exhibited the highest level of gentlemanly conduct, play, and sportsmanship throughout the season.

One of the key stats used to judge the winner of this award is PIMs throughout the season, and there were a few players who played an elite level of offence and defence while staying out of the penalty box.

Which of these players will take home our Lady Byng Trophy? The winner is…

Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings

Anze Kopitar is regarded as one of the best two-way and defensive forwards in the league. His two Selke Trophies can attest to that. So for a player who plays that style of game, it is incredibly impressive to maintain a low amount of penalty minutes.

Kopitar did just that this season. He became the second player in NHL history to play in all 82 games of a season and only record four penalty minutes, the lowest amount ever recorded in that many games.

And in terms of performing at a high level, Kopitar led the Kings in points with 74. He was a huge contributor all season long and is relied on more than any other forward on the team, as he is the only one who averaged over 20 minutes of ice time per game.

Kopitar’s performance for the Kings this season is the perfect example of someone who maintains a high standard of play, sportsmanship, and gentlemanly conduct.


Jaccob Slavin, Carolina Hurricanes

Jaccob Slavin has quietly established himself as one of the best defenders in the league. He may not be an elite offensive talent, but his 27 points last season are respectable. Where he really stands out is on the defensive side of the play.

Slavin already has one Lady Byng Trophy to his name, winning back in the 2020–21 season, so his name already has some pedigree in this award category.

Year after year, Slavin manages to be a high level defender while not taking penalties. His ability to be an effective defender, play big minutes, and appear in nearly every game of the season, is outstanding. In 2022–23, he recorded eight penalty minutes. Of the four minor penalties he committed, two were tripping and two were delay of game. In 76 games, Slavin took just two infractions involving another player.

He deserves all the credit and recognition he gets in this category.

Jack Hughes, New Jersey Devils

In a tie for third place was New Jersey Devils forward Jack Hughes. He broke out in a big way this season, giving new meaning to the criteria in this award based on a high level of play. With a career high 99 points in 78 games, Hughes had just six penalty minutes all season long.

The way his career is trending, after finishing seventh in voting for this award last season, Hughes is looking to become a perennial contender for the Lady Byng.

Jason Robertson, Dallas Stars

In a tie for third place was Dallas Stars winger Jason Robertson. He has become a fan favourite around the league following his breakout into an NHL star. With a career high 46 goals and 109, he takes the high standard of play portion of this vote. Even though he did have 20 penalty minutes this season, his sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct as a player earns him some recognition for this award.

Individual ballots

Vote scoring: 1st Place = 10, 2nd place = 7, 3rd place = 5, 4th place = 3, 5th place = 1

The Oil Rig’s writers takes

Sean Laycock: The combination of tying the best PIMs per games played over a full 82-game season and being his team’s best offensive player gives Kopitar an easy win for this award. But lets not ignore what rookie Matty Beniers did, as it deserves a ton of recognition as he may be a perennial favourite for the Lady Byng moving forward. He took one penalty all season. 80 games played and just two penalty minutes. And Slavin put up yet another impressive season managing to find a way to be one of the most effective defenders in the league without taking penalties. Hughes and Jesper Boqvist get some credit, as the latter also had just two penalty minutes in 70 games played.

Ray Boulette: 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. Which is why I don’t understand how Connor McDavid is not at least a nominee? You simply cannot get a higher standard of playing ability and we all know about his quiet and respectful demeanour during interviews. Maybe he celebrates too hard and hurts too many feelings after going coast-to-coast through or around five defenders to score? Or maybe Kopitar is the nicest NHL player to put on skates because again, the NHL award nominees are confusing to say the very least.

Gregory Babinski: My honourable mention goes to Elias Pettersson of the Vancouver Canucks. In a moment of honesty, Pettersson tried to reverse a tripping call he drew, instantly signalling to the referee that it should not be a penalty. The Canucks and their fans would rather the power play, and Pettersson would later admit that he wouldn’t be trying anything similar again. Maybe the NHL isn’t the place for this level of honesty, but this is the definition of sportsmanship.

Sean Laycock

Sean is a stubborn, lifelong Oilers fan who lives by the motto "There is always next year".

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