In 1,686 minutes, 10 seconds of ice time over Ryan O’Reilly’s 81 appearances this season – that’s a hefty 20:49 each game – officials whistled the Buffalo Sabres center for just one penalty.
No wonder the NHL on Friday named O’Reilly one of three finalists for the 2018 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, awarded “to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”
Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov and Vegas Golden Knights center William Karlsson are the other finalists.
The winner will be announced June 20 at the NHL Awards.
O’Reilly, 27, won the Lady Byng in 2014 as a member of the Colorado Avalanche.
His ability to play big minutes and produce – he compiled 24 goals, 61 points and won an NHL-record 1,274 faceoffs this season – while staying out of the penalty box is unique.
On Oct. 24, O’Reilly served two minutes for slashing against the Detroit Red Wings. He played his final 71 games without taking a penalty.
His one minor penalty was the fewest by any player with at least 41 appearances.
Barkov scored 27 goals and 78 points while compiling 14 penalty minutes in 79 games. Meanwhile, Karlsson scored 43 goals and 78 points while compiling 12 penalty minutes in 82 contests.
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association submitted ballots for the award at the end of the regular season earlier this month.