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The Bill Masterton Trophy is given out every year “to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey” This award was named after the late Bill Masterton, who tragically died after sustaining major injuries while playing a game for the Minnesota North Stars. Masterton was just like the qualifications for the award; he had qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and a dedication to hockey. Annually, the Profession Hockey Writers Association, of each specific NHL city, would nominate one player from each team to be nominated for the award. After that, the 31 nominees would be broken down into three nominees, where the eventual winner would be voted upon by the PHWA. This year, there are many worthy players who deserve to get this prestigious award; and I will be breaking down all of them and making a case as to why they may deserve the trophy.
Anaheim Ducks- Ryan Miller
Ryan Miller has created an amazing career for himself, spanning from the early 2000’s to now. The 39 year old goaltender has 387 career wins, just two shy of Dominic Hasek. Although his numbers aren’t spectacular, he has shown his perseverance on a less-than-stellar team. Coming up with nine wins and a .907 save percentage might not seem so great, but because he is on a struggling team and almost 40 years old, those numbers are actually more praiseworthy then they sound. It is uncertain if Miller will return next season, but this goaltenders love of hockey has pushed him through the NHL for almost two decades.
Arizona Coyotes- Conor Garland
Entering the 2019-20 season, expectations for the 24 year old were not that high. Well, the fifth round draft pick from 2015 sure blew everyone away. Finishing off the season with 22 goals and 34 points, he ended up leading the team in goals and shooting percentage. He also came up in third in team overall scoring. This just shows that his hard work is something to be admired, and his perseverance is not something to ignore.
Boston Bruins- Kevan Miller
This undrafted defenseman from the University of Vermont put all the doubters to shame when he was picked up by the Boston Bruins. He might not have off-the-chart numbers, but that’s not what this award is about. He persevered through college, and finally joined the best hockey league in the world. He has also persevered through this season. Although not playing a single game, Miller is recovering from fractured kneecaps, when he sustained the injury in the 2019 playoffs. It is definitely for certain that Kevan Millers love for hockey will not let him back down from his fight with his injury. Miller is also very involved throughout the Boston community. He involves himself in many charitable endeavors, to give back to the city that gave him his first NHL contract.
Buffalo Sabres- Curtis Lazar
Curtis Lazar was left with disappointment at the end of the Sabres training camp. He did not make the team and was sent down to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League. After some injuries in Buffalos lineup, Lazar was called up and rose to the challenge. By the end of the regular season, Curtis Lazar became an NHL regular again, coming up with ten points, five of which were goals.
Calgary Flames- Mark Giordano
The Flames captain has always shown leadership and perseverance throughout the ice, locker room, and beyond. The 36 year old had 31 points in 60 games this season, even while sustaining a hamstring injury. Gio is also involved in many charitable endeavors around the Calgary community. He has created Team Giordano, which raises money for local public schools and there school programs.
Carolina Hurricanes- James Reimer
After a down season with the Florida Panthers, Reimer was traded to the Hurricanes to play a minor role for the team. Reimer surprised the entire league by having a complete turnaround. This season he has recorded a 2.66 goals against average and a .914 save percentage. He also came up with a 14-6-2 record for this season.
Chicago Blackhawks- Corey Crawford
Crawford has been riddled with many injuries over the past couple of seasons. These injuries significantly reduced his play production, thus resulting in a poor goaltending situation in Chicago. However, this season Crawford has made significant improvements. He has played 40 games this season, for the first time since the 2016-17 season. In his last fifteen games of this season, Crawford came up with a .928 save percentage, a 2.35 goals against average, and has let in two goals or fewer in thirteen of his last 20 starts.
Colorado Avalanche- Ryan Graves
Ryan Graves was a player in the New York Rangers system. After being traded to the Avalanche, he finally broke out. Graves was very productive being pared with future superstar, Cale Makar. He recorded 26 points in 69 games for the Avs this season.
Columbus Blue Jackets- Nathan Gerbe
Being the smallest player in the NHL is no easy task. Five foot four inches is way below the leagues average height. However, with many injuries in his way, Gerbe fought hard, and came up with ten points this season for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Dallas Stars- Stephen Johns
Stephen Johns’ career almost came to an end when he was diagnosed with post concussion syndrome. He missed the entire 2018-19 season because of it, and things were not looking good for the defenseman. However, his love of hockey helped him break through this tough challenge. In his first game playing professional hockey, after his injury, he recorded 4 points for Dallas’ affiliate team, the Texas Stars. He eventually came back to the Stars, and finished off the season with five points.
Detroit Red Wings- Robby Fabbri
After sustaining many knee injuries in his first few seasons, Fabbri was bound from playing hockey for almost two years. He started off the season in mediocre fashion, but after a few games, he was traded to Detroit for forward Jacob de la Rose. Coming to the Red Wings was probably the best gift Fabbri could have received, because that’s when he finally broke out. He recorded 31 points this season in 52 games; fourteen goals and seventeen assists.
Edmonton Oilers- Connor McDavid
Connor McDavid is not only the most skilled player in the National Hockey League, but also one of the most perseverant. After tearing a posterior cruciate ligament, late in the 2018-19 season, there were many doubts as to when and if Connor McDavid would come back. Luckily McDavid came back, and in full force. By the end of this season, he came up with 97 total points; which is second among all NHL players.
Florida Panthers- Noel Acciari
After taking on a fourth line role with the Boston Bruins in 2018-19, expectations were that Acciari would be more of an enforcer in a young and talented Florida Lineup. Those expectations were thrown right out the window. Acciari came up with 27 points this season, 20 of which were goals. He also had back to back hat tricks this season. The last time this franchise had that happen was when Pavel Bure did it in the early 2000’s.
Los Angeles Kings- Jonathan Quick
To be honest, I do not think anyone on this squad deserves any positive recognition besides for this goaltender. Although his stats are not top notch, for a man his age and a team this bad, it only makes sense.
Minnesota Wild- Alex Stalock
When Alex Stalock entered the NHL, expectation were that he would be a career backup, especially with goaltender, Devan Dubnyk, minding the crease. This season, however, it seems as though he has taken over as the lead man. With Dubnyk performing horribly, Stalock stepped up to the plate and hit a home run. This season he came up with a 2.67 goals against average and a .910 save percentage; not bad for a man who has spent most of his career either sitting on the bench or in the minors.
Montreal Canadiens- Shea Weber
The Canadiens captain did not start the season in early October, or late October, or even mid November. It was not till November 27th, 2019 that Weber made his first on-ice appearance in a hockey game in the 2019-20 season. This all happened due to two surgeries, one on his foot and one on his knee. Despite missing a good chunk of the season, the defenseman put up 33 points and fourteen goals. He has become a huge team leader on the ice and the locker room ever since.
Nashville Predators- Jarred Tinordi
The former first round pick of the New York Rangers did not live up to his career potential. So, after spending many years in the minors, he finally made his way to Nashville where he finally made his mark ten years after being drafted. This season, he played 28 games, had one goal, four assists, and 71 hits; all career highs. This season he has finally become a consistent NHLer.
New Jersey Devils- Travis Zajac
The New Jersey Devils did not perform up to their expectations. So, what do they do? Trade there veteran players. The Devils made a lot of moves at the deadline, but they did not trade Travis Zajac, not because they did not want to, but because he did not want to. He threw away his chance at a potential Stanley Cup playoff run for one reason, to mentor the young guns of New Jersey. He wanted to help out the rookies, and make sure that they develop into great players. He sacrificed his own hopes and dreams for the hopes and dreams of others. That is true sportsmanship.
New York Islanders- Thomas Hickey
This season, Thomas Hickey lost his brother, Dan, who was diagnosed with Glioblastoma; which is a large brain tumor. Even after that, however, he still played through the season. He eventually suffered a few injuries this seasons as well, but when he recovered, he continued on, in order to play the sport he loves.
New York Rangers- Henrik Lundqvist
38 year old goaltenders are hard to come by, especially one who can start 26 games in a season. Lundqvist is definitely trending down in his play, with a .905 save percentage and only 10 wins; but he will always work as hard as he can for as long as he could.
Ottawa Senators- Bobby Ryan
Bobby Ryan has gone through a lot in his life. As some may know, as a kid, his father, a convicted felon, fled with him and his mother to California to live a new life. His name was changed from Robert Stevenson to what we know today as Bobby Ryan. After his father was caught, life was never the same for Ryan. He was eventually drafted into the NHL at second overall, but his past has always been there to haunt him. This season, Bobby Ryan missed a huge amount of games to recover from an alcohol addiction. Although it may not be directly due to his past, his childhood traumas could have a significant impact on his alcohol addiction. Nevertheless he recovered, and on his first game back he had a hat trick. What a way to welcome yourself back to the NHL and a sober life.
Philadelphia Flyers- Oskar Lindblom
Oskar Lindblom has not played a single game this season. The reason for this is because throughout this time he has been undergoing multiple chemo treatments for his Ewing’s Sarcoma diagnoses. This cancer has held Lindblom back from skating this season, but it has not stopped him from becoming an inspiration to many players and fans.
Pittsburgh Penguins- Evgeni Malkin
After a dip in his numbers last season, Malkin went into complete beast mode this season. He has come up with 74 points in 55 games, and he has stepped up in his game, not just on the offensive end, but on the defensive side as well.
San Jose Sharks- Joe Thronton
It is not easy to be a 40 year old in the NHL, but Jumbo Joe still gets it done. After playing all 71 games this season he has come up with 31 points. He is a huge leader in the San Jose locker room, and that is why he is getting the Bill Masterton Trophy nomination for the third straight season.
St. Louis Blues- Jay Boumeester
For the second year in a row, Jay Boumeester gets the Masterton nomination for the Blues. This year he is even more deserving then ever. On February 11th; 2020, right before a game against the Anaheim Ducks, Boumeester suffered a cardiac episode and collapsed on the bench. He is now recovering and is constantly being examined by doctors. Hopefully his perseverance will allow him to continue playing next year.
Tampa Bay Lightning- Alex Killorn
Killorn had an amazing season for Tampa, coming up with 26 goals in 68 games. Not only is he great on the ice, but off the ice he is great too. For starters, he co-hosted Kan Jam, a frisbee tournament that helped raise $100,000 for adolescent and young adult programs at the Moffit Cancer Center. He also started Dock Talk with Killer. These are Instagram Live videos where he talked with his Lightning teammates, discussed hockey, and much more. These videos raised almost $50,000 for the Hillsborough Education Fund, which helps offer school supplies for underprivileged children. This includes Internet opportunities for families who cannot afford it, to help their kids stay connected with school during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Toronto Maple Leafs- Zach Hyman
If you were to look at Zach Hyman in college and say he would score 21 goals in the NHL in one season, everyone would look at you and think you were on drugs. Well, this year he did it. It obviously did not come without hundreds of hours of hard work and discipline, but he did it, and he persevered. He also does a lot away from the ice. Hyman is actually a children’s book author, writing The Magicians Secret and The Bambino and Me. The forward also owns an Esports business. With video games becoming very competitive nowadays, Hyman is tapping into a very interesting endeavor.
Vancouver Canucks- Jacob Markstrom
Jacob Markstrom had an excellent season; coming up with a record of 23-16-0, 43 starts, a 2.75 goals against average, a .918 save percentage, and two shutouts. All of these incredible stats came about even with Markstrom leaving to Sweden for a short period of time to comfort his family after the passing of his father, Anders.
Vegas Golden Knights- Shea Theodore
Shea Theodore’s numbers this season are amazing. This year he has come up with a career high, 46 points in 71 games. These amazing numbers are very astonishing, especially due to the fact that Theodore was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer shortly before the start of the 2019-20 season. As of now he is cancer free, and continuing on an amazing NHL career.
Washington Capitals- Michal Kempny
Kempny is not a high scoring player, but he sure has resilience. After tearing a back thigh muscle in 2019, it was doubtful when the defenseman would return. Luckily he made a speedy recovery and continued to make an impact on the Washington squad.
Winnipeg Jets- Mark Letestu
Letestu may not have any points this season, but the fact that he actually played any games at all is no short of a miracle. The forward was diagnosed with Myocarditis, which is an inflammation in a hear muscle. This man loves the game of hockey, and fought as hard as he could to come back and play.
So who do you think is most deserving of the Bill Masterton Award? Leave a comment down below for your thoughts.