Kings Announce Team Award Winners for 2023-24 Season

Happy Thursday, Insiders!

Game Preview to follow, with a look at playoff scenarios for tonight and a couple of additional storylines heading into Game 82, but for this morning, the Kings announced their Team Award Winners for the 2023-24 season.

As Voted By The Media
This was the one area that I got a vote in and my choices were the overall selections in two of the four categories. I actually had a pretty simple voting process myself, selecting Drew Doughty in three of the four categories, with Cam Talbot as the best newcomer. Talbot was the overall choice, with Doughty also taking home Outstanding Defenseman. Most Valuable Player was one that I think could have gone in five different directions and Kempe is a more-than-worthy selection. Also can’t argue with Anze Kopitar as the Best Defensive Player. When you have a Norris Trophy winner in Doughty, a Selke winner in Kopitar, a perennial Selke vote-receiver in Phillip Danault and guys like Matt Roy and Vladislav Gavrikov also in the fold, it’s a wide field. I went with Doughty across the board, considering the strong and sometimes underrated season he’s had, but good selections overall.

Jim Fox, Jesse Cohen and I all had the same ballots, discussed a bit in this morning’s episode of All The Kings Men.

Bill Libby Memorial Award – “Most Valuable Player”: Adrian Kempe
Adrian Kempe has been selected by the media as the Bill Libby Memorial Award winner for Most Valuable Player on the Kings this season. Kempe enters the final game of the season tied for the team lead in scoring, notching a career-high 73 points (27-46=73) through 76 games. Kempe paces the Kings in assists (46), short-handed goals (3) and shots on goal (245) while adding three game-winning goals to his resume on the campaign. Kempe has posted a team-leading 49 points (16-33=49) over 40 wins out of his 76 games played this season.

Mark Bavis Memorial Award – “Best Newcomer”: Cam Talbot
In his first season with the Kings, Cam Talbot was selected to represent the club at his second career NHL All-Star Game, becoming just the seventh different All-Star for the franchise in the past decade. Talbot has maintained a 2.47 goals-against-average (GAA) and .915 save-percentage (SV%) while backstopping the Kings to a 26-20-6 record, three shutouts and three assists through 51 starts. At the beginning of the campaign, Talbot established a road record of 9-0-0 which tied the NHL record for the longest season-opening road win streak by a goaltender, a distinction shared with Chicago’s Glenn Hall (9-0-0 in 1965-66). Talbot registered his 10th victory in his 14th game with the club on Nov. 24 in Anaheim to became just the third netminder in Kings history to reach the 10-win mark within their first 14 games with the franchise: Pheonix Copley (12-2-0 in 14 GP) and Daniel Berthiaume (10-3-0 in 14 GP).

Outstanding Defenseman: Drew Doughty
For a franchise record 13th time in his career, Drew Doughty has been voted Outstanding Defenseman by the members of the media. Doughty is poised to lead all Kings blueliners in scoring for the fourth consecutive year and 13th time overall with his fifth career 50-point season (15-35=50), the most by a defenseman in franchise history. Doughty has been atop league leaderboard in time-on-ice through most of the season, averaging 26:00 in time-on-ice in a league-leading 43 of his 81 games played, nearly 53% of his season. Doughty is on pace to finish top-five in the league in time-on-ice for the 10th consecutive season and 12th time overall in his 16-season career. Among all Kings defensemen, Doughty leads the team in goals (15), assists (35), power-play goals (7), power-play points (20) and game-winning goals (3) while sitting second in blocked shots (142), takeaways (19) and penalties drawn (12), also ranking fourth in hits (108).

Best Defensive Player: Anze Kopitar
Anze Kopitar was voted the team’s Best Defensive Player by the media for the seventh time in his career, the most in team history. The winner of multiple Frank J. Selke Trophies (2016, 2018), Kopitar eclipsed the 70-point mark (26-44=70) for the ninth time in his career trailing only Marcel Dionne (12) and Luc Robitaille (11) for most such seasons in franchise history. The captain leads all Kings forwards in time-on-ice per game (19:40), shorthanded time-on-ice per game (1:51), overall faceoff winning percentage (55.1%), offensive zone face-off win percentage (56.7), defensive zone face-off win percentage (50.2), takeaways (48), blocked shots (65) and on-ice even strength goals for (65). He is one of 16 players in the league to average over 19 minutes of time-on-ice per night and score 70+ points while registering under 25 penalty minutes this season.

As Voted By The Players
Being player votes, I did not have a selection in these categories, but I don’t think the results are all that surprising. Arvidsson was the Kings’ nomination for the Masterton Trophy, which is selected by the PHWA, with all 32 teams having one nomination. Arvidsson proved to carry those same traits with the players as well. Missing the bulk of the season due to injury, it’s clear that his presence has provided a spark and a boost to the club, which has posted a 12-5-0 record in the game he has played in this season. On Lizotte, he plays the style of game that both endears itself to his teammates and also goes under the radar sometimes on a wider scale. Players like Trevor Lewis and Andreas Englund were also likely considered here, but Lizotte is a deserving winner for sure. An energizer bunny who helps drive the team forward, who is very appreciated by the guys in the room.

Most Inspirational Player – “Ace Bailey Memorial Award”: Viktor Arvidsson
Voted by the Kings players, forward Viktor Arvidsson has been named the recipient of the Ace Bailey Award for Most Inspirational Player. Following a back surgery in October 2023, Arvidsson was sidelined for the first 50 games of the campaign as he made his recovery. Three games after his return from this injury, Arvidsson faced a lower-body injury that returned him to the long-term injured reserve (LTIR) for another 13 contests. In his first action back from his second LTIR stint, Arvidsson netted two points (1-1=2) to help the Kings to a 6-0 shutout against Minnesota and was selected as the first star of the game on March 20. Over 17 appearances since returning from injury, Arvidsson has recorded four goals and eight helpers for 12 points (4-8=12) and helped lead the team to an 12-5-0 record.

Unsung Hero Award: Blake Lizotte
For the second time in his career, Blake Lizotte has been chosen by the Kings players as the recipient of the team’s Unsung Hero Award. Lizotte, 26, has been a reliable and effective forward for the Kings this season, maintaining a plus-12 rating and notching two game-winning goals through 61 games on the season. Lizotte has logged 104:55 total minutes of time on the penalty kill this season while his three shorthanded points are tied for the second-most on the team.

Additional Awards
The final three awards were voted on by three different groups of people. The LA Kings Booster Club always gets a chance to select their most popular player, with Kevin Fiala taking home the award for the first time in his two seasons with the Kings. Fiala was named yesterday as the Kings’ nominee for the King Clancy and was recognized a second time today, by the Kings Care Foundation, as the team’s Community Service Award winner. Fiala has been outstanding in the local community and it’s well deserved. Lastly, good to see Phillip Danault get recognized for his own commitment to the community. Danault has been active with local youth hockey and has raised money, while also donating his time, to help grow the game locally here in Southern California.

Most Popular Player: Kevin Fiala
The LA Kings Booster Club voted Kevin Fiala the team’s Most Popular Player for the first time in his career. On the ice, Fiala (29-44=73) is one of three Kings skaters to hit the 70-point plateau this season and enters the final day of the regular season tied with Adrian Kempe (73) for the team lead in scoring. Off the ice, Fiala has been a leader in community engagement, founding his “Fiala’s Friends” program to meet with and assist pediatric hospital patients and their families. As an extension of “Fiala’s Friends,” the St. Gallen, Switzerland native has organized youth hockey clinics to mentor local children and raise money for the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA).

Jim Fox Community Service Award: Kevin Fiala
For the second consecutive season, Kevin Fiala was chosen as the winner of this year’s Jim Fox Community Service Award. The award recognizes the player that best exemplifies strong community outreach as determined by the Kings Care Foundation. Fiala, who was also selected as the Kings’ nominee for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, has quickly cemented himself as a pillar of the local community through his extensive involvement with CHLA and other programs, such as the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Daryl Evans Youth Hockey Service Award: Phillip Danault
Phillip Danault has been named Daryl Evans Youth Hockey Service Award winner by the LA Kings Hockey Development Department. This marks Danault’s first time winning the award. Since joining the Kings, Danault has taken an active role in the Kings Learn-to-Play programming and has championed the growth of all forms of hockey throughout the Los Angeles community.

Game Preview coming up next, after the team hits the ice for morning skate here in about 30 minutes or so. Expecting a pretty optional group, but we’ll spell out what’s on the line coming up shortly to set up Game 82.

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