Jared Spurgeon has stayed on the ice and out of the penalty box for most of his career with the Wild, and the NHL Awards spotlight has finally recognized that efficiency.
Spurgeon is a finalist for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, which honors the player with the best sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.
Toronto's Auston Matthews and Carolina's Jaccob Slavin are the other nominees announced Saturday. The award is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, and the winner will be revealed during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
In his first season as captain, Spurgeon scored seven goals and had 18 assists for a team-high 25 points among Wild defensemen while averaging 22 minutes, 5 seconds of ice time in 54 games. He committed just three penalties; only Slavin played more minutes per game while taking fewer penalties.
The 31-year-old Spurgeon also has the fewest penalty minutes among active NHL defensemen and is tied for the third fewest penalties among all active players that have logged at least 600 games since entering the league in 2010-11.
Only one other player in Wild history has been a Lady Byng finalist; Mikael Granlund finished third in 2016-17. Spurgeon is the second Wild player this week to be nominated for an NHL award; Kirill Kaprizov was named a finalist for the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie on Thursday.
Matthews scored an NHL-high 41 goals for the Maple Leafs and ranked fifth in ice time per game among all forwards (21:33) in 52 games while receiving 10 minutes in penalties, the second fewest among the league's top 25 scorers; this is Matthews' second straight nomination after he placed second in voting last year.
Slavin took only one minor penalty – a delay of game infraction for a puck over the glass – while suiting up for 52 games and averaging nearly 23 minutes to help the Hurricanes become one of the best defending teams in the league and capture the Central Division title. His two penalty minutes are the fewest among all skaters who averaged at least 20 minutes and played at least 10 games.
Just three defensemen in NHL history have won this award, with Brian Campbell (Florida) the most recent in 2011-12.