The Hurricanes have another major NHL award winner in 2021.
Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin was named the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy winner Saturday during Game 4 of the Tampa Bay-New York Islanders Stanley Cup playoff series.
The Lady Byng is presented each year to the NHL player who best combines sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct with a high standard of playing ability.
Slavin was a finalist with forward Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs and defenseman Jared Spurgeon of the Minnesota Wild in balloting by the Professional Hockey Writers Association. He became the second Hurricanes player in franchise history to receive the Lady Byng, following former Canes captain Ron Francis — later the team’s general manager — who won in 2001-02.
Slavin’s selection came two days after the Canes’ Rod Brind’Amour received the Jack Adams Award as the league’s coach of the year. Goalie Alex Nedeljkovic also is a finalist for the Calder Trophy given the NHL’s rookie of the year.
Slavin, 27, has been a fixture in the Canes’ top defensive pairing, with or without Dougie Hamilton, the past three years, and serves as an alternate captain. He has represented the Canes at the All-Star Weekend, filling in for an injured Hamilton in 2020 in St. Louis and winning the accuracy shooting contest during the NHL All-Star Skills Competition.
Slavin’s style of play is hard and clean. He had just two penalty minutes — a delay-of-game minor for a puck over the glass — in 52 games played. Slavin’s 0:02 PIM per game in 2020-21 was a career low, and his 60 career penalty minutes are the fewest penalty minutes of any defenseman playing at least 350 games since 2015-16, his rookie season.
A former fourth-round draft pick by Carolina, Slavin averaged a team-high 22:59 in ice time in the 2020-21 season. A positionally sound and savvy D-man, he led the Canes with 87 blocked shots and was second with 24 takeaways.
A man of strong faith, Slavin’s sportsmanship on the ice is unwavering. He does not use profanity. He does not trash-talk opposing players and rarely complains to the game officials.
Slavin and Spurgeon are the first two defensemen to be named finalists since Brian Campbell, then with the Florida Panthers, won in 2011-12. Campbell was the first defenseman to win the award since Detroit’s Red Kelly in 1954.
Brind’Amour has called Slavin “as valuable as any defenseman in the league.” When Slavin missed a few games in this year’s playoffs with a lower-body issue, Brind’Amour was quick to note his absence was a “big deal.”
Slavin was awarded the 2020 Rod Langway Award by the PHWA for the defenseman who “best excels in the defensive aspect of the game,” beating out Victor Hedman of Tampa Bay and Roman Josi of Nashville. Langway twice won the Norris Trophy, a Stanley Cup with Montreal and is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
The Lady Byng has been awarded since 1925. Frank Nighbor of the Ottawa Senators won it the first two years. More recently, former Detroit star Pavel Datsyuk won four straight years (2006-2009), and former Tampa Bay forward Martin St. Louis won three out of four seasons.