Connect with us

LA Kings

Kings 2022/23 Team Awards: My Votes

This is my first year casting a ballot and I’ll run through who I voted for and why.



With just one game left in the regular season, the media ballots for team awards are in. 

The media voted on the Most Valuable Player – “Bill Libby Memorial Award” Best Newcomer – “Mark Bavis Memorial Award”, Outstanding Defenseman and Defensive Player awards. This is my first year casting a ballot and I'll run through who I voted for and why.

Most Valuable Player – “Bill Libby Memorial Award”:

Kevin Fiala's injury down the stretch made voting on this award easier. It was a two-horse race all season for team MVP with Fiala and Anze Kopitar fighting for the honor. 

In the end, it's Kopitar who gets my vote.

Even had Fiala not been injured, Kopitar was still my initial thought for this award. The offensive impact of Fiala was transformative for the Kings. He's been a major factor in the Kings going from one of the league's worst offenses last season. To a top-11 team in goals scored this season. 

But you can't overlook Kopitar's complete game. Still on pace for 73 points, meaning he'd lead the team in points for a sixth straight year. 

He's back to posting Selke-caliber defensive numbers; leads Kings forwards in shorthanded time on ice, total time on ice, and faceoff percentage at 55.9%. He's an all-situations player who Todd McLellan leans on heavily.

And even with all of that ice time and heavy minutes, Kopitar has just four penalty minutes across 81 games. All but a lock for the Lady Byng this season.

The fact that Fiala doesn't kill penalties and spent a large chunk of the season on the third line, getting favorable matchups each night gave Kopitar the edge. 

Best Newcomer – “Mark Bavis Memorial Award”:

This is where Fiala gets to collect some silverware. Another two-horse race here between Fiala and Pheonix Copley, I've gone with Fiala.

Over a point-per-game player Fiala would have led the team in scoring had he not been hurt. And again, completely transformed this team offensively. 

If you want an example of Fiala's impact, just look at how much the Kings have struggled for offense since his injury. Yes, the absence of Gabe Vilardi in that period hasn't helped, but still, it's clear how much the team is missing Fiala.

He's a mercurial player who's going to have a bad turnover or stupid penalty here and there. He also doesn't play defense, but when you can generate scoring chances as he can, those things don't matter as much.

The Kings traded for Fiala hoping he'd be the offensive superstar they've lacked recently and he's delivered. 

Outstanding Defenseman:

Drew Doughty is the clear winner here. 

Doughty's 26:16 average time on ice is second in the league behind Cale Maker, who's played 20 fewer games. He leads King's defensemen in points and is in a three-way tie with Matt Roy and Sean Durzi for the team lead in goals by a defenseman. 

We saw him return to form last season, but he was restricted to just 39 games because of an injury.

This season, Doughty's missed just one game and has been an elite two-way defender. 

Like Kopitar, he's an all-situations kind of player. Logging heavy minutes at five-on-five while featuring on the top power play and penalty kill units. 

When your number one defenseman plays like a number one defenseman, they become an easy choice for this award.

I will give an honorable mention to Roy. Who leads King's defensemen in wins-above-replacement according to Evolving Hockey. 

Defensive Player:

Mikey Anderson takes home this award with relative ease. 

Anderson's developed into a premier shutdown defenseman in the NHL and his play is a catalyst for Doughty's return to form. 

According to Allthreezones tracking data, very few players in hockey prevent chances at the rate Anderson does. And even fewer do it against top-quality opposition every night. Amongst top-pairing defensemen, only Miro Heiskanen prevents chances at a similar rate to Anderson. 

It's not a coincidence that in Anderson's first game back from injury the Kings pitched a shutout. 

He also brings a physical edge to his game that the Kings lack without him. 

Team Voted Awards:

There are two more awards, the “Ace Bailey Memorial Award” as Most Inspirational and the Unsung Hero Award which are voted on solely by the players.

While I don't get a say in who actually wins these, I'll give my picks for fun.

“Ace Bailey Memorial Award” as Most Inspirational:

This feels like the toughest award for me to vote on. Without really being inside the locker room, it's tough to know which player fits the criteria of "inspirational" but I'll treat it like a team Masterson Award.

Meaning Copley, who's the Kings' nominee for the Masterson, gets the nod here. 

Is there really anything more inspirational than a player signed to be your AHL goalie coming up and "saving" the season? The script writes itself really. 

It's been an incredible run for Copley, who's earned himself a contract extension with the Kings. 

If not for Copley, Sean Walker would be an easy vote for this award. 

After missing almost a full year of hockey after tearing both his MCL and ACL, Walker's featured in 69 games this season. He's gotten a lot of hate from fans, some warranted and some because he isn't Jordan Spence or Brandt Clarke. But he's picked it up down the stretch.

Coming back from such a serious injury always puts you in the running for an award like this. Add in that he's a well-liked figure in the room and he'd be a great pick. 

Unsung Hero Award:

The unofficially named "Trevor Lewis Award." I could see Blake Lizotte winning this award for a second year running, but I think it will go somewhere else. 

My guess is Alex Iafallo. 

He's a player who constantly shows up in conversations about possible trade chips this summer. I'm guilty of it myself. But he's such an effective player for the Kings.

As Todd McLellan's put it before, he's the team's deodorant, cleaning up the stink that others leave behind.

He can play in any situation and on any line. He's a true four-line player, is one of the best penalty killers in hockey and has even deputized on the power play in a few different roles. 

His motor never stops and is probably overlooked by fans, and media at times, because he lacks flair.

He's a quality player who deserves some more plaudits. 

Copyright © 2023 National Hockey Now. Not affiliated or endorsed by the Los Angeles Kings or the NHL.