Could the Lady Byng winner this year be a defenseman?
Could this be the year we see a defenseman win the Lady Byng again, a feat accomplished only once since 1954? It’s quite possible.
The player in mind is Rasmus Ristolainen. The Finnish-born defenseman was the 8th overall pick in 2013 and has taken a steady but impressive track to becoming a top defenseman on Buffalo and in the Eastern Conference. His name doesn’t necessarily flash out like Shea Weber or Duncan Keith, but he is a fantastic player.
Ristolainen has 24 points in 33 games this year, but more impressively has not taken any penalties so far. His last penalty came in March of last season. His average ice time clocking in at just over 24 minutes make this even more impressive.
Ristolainen is one of the best young defensemen in the league, and even though he may not be Norris worthy (yet), the Lady Byng should still be in the consideration. The competition will be tough, however, with the likes of Pavel Datsyuk, Ryan O’Reilly, Jonathan Toews, and Anze Kopitar as favorite candidates as well.
Ironically, the last defenseman to win the Lady Byng before Red Kelly in 1954 was ex-Sabre Brian Campbell in 2011-2012, when he had six penalty minutes total.