Thursday, December 15, 2011

Masterton Trophy candidates at about a third of the way through the season.

           So it’s that time of the year where every blogger posts their nominees for (x) trophy at the (x) way point of the year, but one trophy I never hear ideas for is the Masterton trophy.  The Bill Masterton trophy, for the unitiated, is awarded to the player who “ best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey” (Source:  In modern times, it has become somewhat of a “comeback player of the year” award.  With that, I want to list a player for each team who, I feel, would be most deserving.

  • Anaheim Ducks - Teemu Selanne, for having a career that has spanned over 15 seasons, and still performing at such a high level.
  • Boston Bruins - While Tukka Raask has perfomed better, he didn’t even play any of the playoffs because of his slump and Tim Thomas’ resurrection, if Marc Savard comes back to play, he would be the likely choice.
  • Buffalo Sabres - Ryan Miller came back from “concussion like symptoms” and has been pretty good since returning to the team, so he would likely get the nod.
  • Calgary Flames - I think Jerome Iginla deserves a medal for carrying the team for a decade, I’m just gonna put it right out there.
  • Carolina Hurricanes - I dunno, Jussi Jokinen has been a bit better, but this team has been really disappointing so far this year.
  • Chicago Blackhawks - I know it’s a cop out because he was nominated for the trophy last year, but the fact that Ray Emery can come back to the NHL and compete for the starting job on one of the better teams in the league after having his hips surgically reassembled (I’m not a doctor, so you should probably look that stuff up for yourself) is amazing.
  • Colorado Avalanche - Again, I can’t really think of anyone.  Hejduk has been playing competently, but the team as a whole has been pretty bad.
  • Columbus Blue Jackets - Like Iginla, Rick Nash has been otherworldly all over the ice for the duration of his career and the team has found ways to lose badly most nights.
  • Dallas Stars - Kari Lehtonen has bounced back from a very mediocre 2010-11 season to post a steller beginning to his 2011-12 effort, raising his win percentage from around 50% to almost 70%.  If he comes back from his injury as well as he started the year, he could be a serious contender.
  • Detroit Red Wings - Although it is my personal belief that no player from Detroit should ever win this (or any) award, this is likely to be Niklas Lidstrom’s final year of a very good career, with plenty of hardware to show for it.
  • Edmonton Oilers - Nikolai Khabibulin hasn’t had a good year in...ages, honestly.  But he has helped backstop the Oilers to a strong start (except for the last few, weeks, or so), and looks to be in mid-career form.
  • Florida Panthers - There’s probably a dozen or so names you could put here, but Jose Theodore has really impressed after being essentially marooned in the middle of nowhere since the lockout.
  • Los Angeles Kings - If Dustin Penner can come back healthy, maybe.  This is another underperforming team, they have the 5th lowest Goals Against in the Western Conference, and still have given up more than they’ve scored.  But nobody was surprised that Jonathan Quick was good.
  • Minnesota Wild - I’m not sure I can single out any one specific player who has been better, the whole team went from being spoilers to conference leaders.  However, Mikko Koivu is another player who has spent his whole career with one team and they’re finally getting good, he’s got the C for a reason.
  • Montreal Canadiens - Max Pacioretty has come back from an incident that was so bad it pretty much forced most NHL arenas to change how the glass forms around the benches.  He hasn’t been quite All-Star caliber, but after being wheeled off on a stretcher, I’ll cut him some slack.
  • Nashville Predators - Mike Fisher (or Mr. Carrie Underwood for the uninformed) had shoulder surgery in the offseason, then got hurt early on in October, and has a respectable 12 points in 21 games for a very defensive team.
  • New Jersey Devils - If anyone gets over the funk that was last year, they deserve the prize.  However, maybe this is Martin Brodeur’s last season, and maybe he turns it around (he looks better than he did last year, but that isn’t saying much).  The man will go down as one of the greatest goaltenders to play the game, and all of it for the Devils.
  • New York Islanders - Maybe Rick DiPietro can come back healthy for the rest of the season, or maybe he’s on IR again (EDIT: in the time it took me to write this blog, he went back on IR), I’m not sure right now.
  • New York Rangers - Not only did Ryan Callahan come back from 2 serious injuries during the last season (both blocking shots, as well), he became the team’s Captain, and one of the faces of the Blueshirts.
  • Philadelphia Flyers - If Chris Pronger comes back from his concussion as well as he can, he could actually challenge certain other players below on this list for the trophy.  Even if he isn’t as good as he has been the last few seasons, he could still certainly help the team that doesn’t even look like it needs it.
  • Phoenix Coyotes - Mike Smith ended last season as Dwayne Roloson’s backup in Tampa, this year he has risen from the ashes of that collapse (get it, get it???) to backstop another good, if not great, Phoenix team, likely to a playoff birth in what could end up being their last year in the desert.
  • Pittsburgh Penguins - Ugh, do I need to say it?  Even if Crosby doesn’t play another game this year he probably won the award the day he came back (even if it was against the Islanders)
  • Ottawa Senators - While Craig Anderson has been wildly inconsistent, at times he has been one of the top goaltenders in the league, a far cry from last season where he (along with pretty much everyone else in Ottawa) was woefully terrible.
  • San Jose Sharks - Really any “comeback” (remember this team made the conference finals last year) will need to come from net, and while Niemi was alright last year, he has been better this season.  His GAA has been a little bit lower this year.
  • St Louis Blues - David Perron has only played 4 games since coming back from his concussion, and has 3 points.  That’s productivity, and part of the reason the Blues are in the playoff hunt right now.
  • Tampa Bay Lightning - Currently Martin St. Louis on in IR, after playing 499 games straight.  If he comes back and Tampa performs anywhere near as well as they did last year, they could possibly make a playoff spot, maybe even win the division if Florida bombs.
  • Toronto Maple Leafs - James Reimer came back from a concussion and has been relatively steady since coming back.  Phil Kessel is the top scorer in the league, but he was an All-Star last year, so he doesn’t really get any slack for that.
  • Vancouver Canucks - Manny Malholtra, he came back from getting a puck in the eye to have a pretty respectable season this year (remember, pretty much everyone on the Canucks had a career year last year)
  • Washington Capitals - If Ovie returns to the superhuman form he had in 2007-10, he could singlehandedly pull this team out of mediocrity.  Otherwise this team has been very disappointing. 
  • Winnipeg Jets - Kyle Wellwood left the NHL about 2 years ago for the KHL, because he couldn’t find a decent job in the Western Hemisphere.  Now he is an integral part of the reborn Jets’ playoff push.  Ondrej Pavelec gets an honorable mention after the scary incident he had at the beginning of last season.  In one of the Thrashers’ first games, Pavelec just collapsed on the ice, while play was going on at the other end.  It was a scary moment.

Obviously a lot of these posts have ifs in them.  That’s a major part of most any award, but especially this one, and especially for the players who are still hurt.

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