Hurricanes’ Slavin, Staal join Andersen as NHL award finalists

The Carolina defensemen is again up for the Lady Byng, and the Hurricanes captain is among the top three for the Selke

Panthers center Aleksander Barkov, left, and Hurricanes center Jordan Staal, right, are both finalists for the Frank J. Selke Award. (Karl B. DeBlaker / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — While the Hurricanes battle in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs against the New York Rangers, they are proving to be big players in the NHL’s award season.

Days after Frederik Andersen was named a finalist for the Masterton Trophy, defenseman Jaccob Slavin and center Jordan Staal were also among the final three for a pair of awards.

“Anytime you get nominated for any of those awards, I mean, that’s pretty special,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour, himself a two-time Frank J. Selke Trophy winner, said. “What is it, three people that get nominated? So you’re three out of 700 and whatever it is NHLers. That’s pretty good.”

Slavin, the 2021 winner of the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for gentlemanly play, was announced as a finalist for the award for the third time in his career on Saturday.

“You guys know my values, and being a Christian I think that’s how I try to live, right?” Slavin said of being honored again as a finalist. “I try to live with a good character, with a character that glorifies God. And so this is an award that I appreciate, just being a gentleman.”

It is the eighth consecutive season Slavin has received votes for the award. He finished second in 2022 and fourth in both 2020 and 2023. Slavin was called for just four penalties in 81 games this season despite often playing against the opposition’s top players.

“The game is a hard game,” Slavin said. “I think you can still play the game hard, but you’re doing it the right way and treat people with respect out there still. That is what it is to me at least.”

The other finalists for the Lady Byng are Toronto’s Auston Matthews — who has already won this year’s Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy for leading the lead in goals with 69 — and Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson, neither of whom has previously won the award. It is Matthews’ eighth consecutive season receiving votes for the award and third time being a finalist. Pettersson has received votes in five of his six seasons, finishing a career-best eighth last year.

Slavin was initially unaware Saturday, when the finalists were announced, who the other two players were competing for the award. When offered the chance to talk down his competition, Slavin unsurprisingly took the high road — just like he does on the ice.

“No, I wouldn’t say anything about them,” he said with an earnest smile.

The Lady Byng has often been met with backhanded praise in a sport where grit and tenacity are widely praised.

“Maybe in the past, and I say way past, I don’t think they looked at it like they do now,” Brind’Amour said, “where they’re not just giving it to the guy doesn’t take penalties. They’re giving it to an elite player that does it right. … Any of these awards that you get nominated for is special, and the way he does it is special.”

Staal is a Selke finalist for the second time in his career and first time since joining the Hurricanes. In 2010, he finished third in voting for the award, given annually to the best defensive forward in the NHL, when he was playing with the Penguins, and he has appeared on Selke ballots in 16 of his 18 NHL seasons. The Carolina captain anchored the league’s best penalty kill this season while continuing to take tough matchups every night at age 35.

“I’m happy for him to get the recognition for the type of player he is and has been his whole career, really,” Brind’Amour said before Sunday’s Game 1 against the Rangers, a 4-3 Carolina loss. “I know it’s a big honor for him, well deserved.”

It is Staal’s ninth consecutive season receiving votes, and he finished fourth in last year’s balloting. Matthews was also named a finalist for the Selke, as was Florida center Aleksander Barkov.

It’s Matthews’ fifth straight season and sixth overall receiving votes for the award, and his previous best finish was 10th in 2022. Matthews has now won the Richard three times in his career. He received both the Hart Memorial Trophy and Lester B. Pearson Award (now called the Ted Lindsay Award) in 2022 for being the league’s MVP as selected by the media and most outstanding player in a vote by the players, respectively. Matthews also won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie in 2017. Staal was third for that trophy in his first NHL season in 2006-07.

Barkov won the Selke in 2021 and is a finalist for the third time, finishing third in 2022. The Panthers center has received votes as the NHL’s top defensive forward in every year of the last decade. He won the Lady Byng in 2019.