Kopitar, Datsyuk and Hudler named finalists for Lady Byng

Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk, Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar and Calgary’s Jiri Hudler have been named finalists for the Lady Byng Trophy, awarded to the league’s most gentlemanly player. Datsyuk leads the pack with only eight penalty minutes this season, but Kopitar and Hudler are worthy adversaries for the four-time winner.

At the NHL awards in June, Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar and Calgary’s Jiri Hudler will stand in the way of Pavel Datsyuk tying one of Wayne Gretzky’s marks.

The NHL announced Tuesday that Kopitar, Hudler and Datsyuk have been selected as finalists for the Lady Byng Trophy, the award given to the league’s most gentlemanly player. Datsyuk, who has already captured the award four times in his career, hasn’t won since taking home the trophy for the fourth consecutive year in 2008-09. If he takes home the Lady Byng for 2014-15, it will tie him with Wayne Gretzky with five wins and leave him two back of New York Rangers legend Frank Boucher, who won seven times.

Based on penalty minutes alone, Datsyuk could be the safest bet to take home the hardware, too. In 63 games, the 36-year-old scored 26 goals and 65 points while accruing only eight penalty minutes. Being one of the league’s most efficient stick checkers, that Datsyuk only sat in the box four times all season is mighty impressive.

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His opponents, Kopitar and Hudler, saw the sin bin more often, but not by much.

Through 79 games, Kopitar tallied 16 goals and 64 points while only being sent off for five minor penalties. Often tasked with facing the toughest competition the other team can throw at him, Kopitar’s ability to effectively check without taking penalties could be enough for him to win the award for the first time in his career.

The dark horse of the group, though, is Hudler. Of the three finalists, he was the goon, taking seven minor penalties through 78 games, but his 14 penalty minutes is the lowest total of his career. In addition to the career-year in the PIM category, his 31 goals and 76 points were the best of his career.

The winner will be announced June 24 at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas.