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Lady Byng: Stars' late-season surge lifts Eriksson

Monday, 04.02.2012 / 4:11 PM / Trophy Tracker

By David Kalan - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Lady Byng: Stars' late-season surge lifts Eriksson
The award for "skillful and gentlemanly play" generally features Martin St. Louis as a nominee, but NHL.com feels he's been upstaged by this year's trio -- including winner Loui Eriksson.
For much of this season we had Dallas' Loui Eriksson pegged as the man most likely to take home the Lady Byng Trophy in 2012. After all, the trophy is awarded for "skillful and gentlemanly play" -- something Eriksson has accomplished all season, having been an offensive force for the Stars while staying out of the penalty box. Add in his nomination for the award a season ago, and his prior recognition gives him the perfect pedigree to take home his first Byng this June.

But despite all of that, we shifted gears at the season's three-quarter mark. While Eriksson was still in the mix, at the time the Islanders' Matt Moulson was making an impressive case of his own, tallying 26 goals and 51 points with just six penalty minutes and a plus-5 rating at the time.

Moulson's numbers are still impressive. He's been a steadying offensive force for an offensively challenged team, while shattering his career scoring high. But unfortunately for Moulson, a funny thing happened on the way to the trophy stand. Over February and March, the weather hasn't been the only thing heating up in Dallas. The Stars have gone on a run to challenge for the Pacific Division crown and Eriksson's performance is a major reason why.

2011-12 NHL TROPHY TRACKER

With the final week of the regular season upon us, NHL.com takes a look at which players from around the League are on track to be considered for some of hockey's most storied awards.
We could still see Moulson -- or a number of other candidates -- taking the Byng in Las Vegas this June, but we're jumping back on the Eriksson bandwagon. His offensive numbers, his two-way play and his minimal amount of time spent in the penalty box for a team that has unexpectedly challenged for a playoff berth should be enough to get him his first Lady Byng Trophy.

WINNER

Loui Eriksson, Dallas Stars -- Eriksson spends roughly 20 minutes a night on the ice for the Stars and as the team's leading scorer, deservedly so. This season, the Swede has racked up 26 goals and 70 points while continuing to steadily refine his two-way game so that he stays out of the box and contributes at both ends of the ice. Eriksson has taken just five minor penalties this season while his plus-17 is among the best marks on the team and the highest rating of his career. In fact, his resume looks so good that if Eriksson wins the Lady Byng in 2012, it will probably not be the last time he does so.

FINALISTS

Matt Moulson, New York Islanders
-- Moulson turned in a great season -- we just don't think it will be great enough. Still, it's hard to discount a third consecutive 30-goal season in which the Cornell product set career highs in goals and points with 34 and 67, respectively. He has continued displaying a remarkable knack for staying out of the box, accruing just six penalty minutes this season, and his rating is a solid plus-2, no small feat for a player whose team had one of the worst goal differentials in the League.

Jordan Eberle, Edmonton Oilers -- It just doesn't feel like awards season without Martin St. Louis' name being in the mix for the Byng, but the two-time winner has been ousted from our group of finalists by Eberle, who has quietly put together a very impressive season in northern Alberta. In just his second campaign, Eberle has obliterated his rookie totals by notching a point per game with 33 goals and 42 assists. He's put up a plus-4 rating on a team that has a minus-21 goal differential, and he's learned the subtleties of staying out of the box, registering just eight PIMs a year after finishing with 22. That kind of progress seems indicative of what will be an impressive career, and it certainly warrants inclusion among the finalists for the Lady Byng.
Quote of the Day

It's pretty crazy, but believe me when I say we didn't draft these players with the mindset we had to because they had good hockey-playing dads. It just turned out that way. But we're certainly glad they're a part of our organization.

— Arizona Coyotes director of amateur scouting Tim Bernhardt regarding the coincidence that six of the organization's top prospects are sons of former NHL players