NHL Awards: Masterton and GM of the Year Finalists Announced

Today’s NHL Awards finalist announcements are for the Masterton Trophy and the GM of the Year Award.

The Masterton is awarded to “the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey” and is often given to a player who has overcome something serious in his life. This year’s nominees are:

Alfredsson decided to come back and play his 16th season of NHL hockey even after having back surgery in the offseason. He returned to a team that had undergone some personnel changes because of their dismal finish in the Eastern Conference. But Ottawa has rocketed up in the standings and hosted the All-Star Game this season too–a game where Alfredsson was named one of the captains. This season he scored his 400th goal, had 59 points and a +16 rating. He’s also charitable off the ice, advocating for mental health care with the Royal Ottawa Hospital and the Do it for Daron foundation (in memory of the daughter of a Senators assistant coach).

Lupul, like Alfredsson, also had some back problems that stemmed from a 2009 injury and caused him to have a difficult time even moving. He lost weight, about 40 pounds in his estimation, and also had issues with a blood disorder. But back to health for this season, he started off with a bang and kept going until a separated shoulder ended his season in March. Like Alfredsson, he also had a leadership role at the All-Star Game, serving as alternate for Team Chara, and this season he had a career-best 67 points in 66 games. He also bought five suites at the Air Canada Centre for use by the Boys and Girls Club.

Pacioretty suffered a hit that many people thought would end his career when he fractured his vertebrae in March 2011. But he spent the offseason recovering, appeared at Canadiens training camp with a clean bill of health and proceeded to have his best season ever: 33 goals and 65 points. He made history as the first American player on the Canadiens to score more than 30 goals. Off the ice, he created the Max Pacioretty Foundation and helped Montreal General Hospital buy a new MRI machine for their brain injury center.

The GM of the Year Award, which has no name other than that, is exactly what it says on the tin: given to the best general manager of the year. This year’s nominees are:

Armstrong made some strategic offseason moves, bringing in Brian Elliott, Jason Arnott, Jamie Langenbrunner and Kent Huskins. Aside from Elliott, all of those men have Stanley Cup rings. Then Armstrong made one last big move: he fired coach Davis Payne just 13 games into the 2011-12 season and brought in Ken Hitchcock, who also has a ring. From there, the Blues exploded into a Western Conference juggernaut: 43-15-11 record with Hitchcock, won their division for the first time since Bill Clinton was president and finished second in the conference. They just won their conference quarterfinal series against the San Jose Sharks in five games, too.

Poile made sure to keep around Pekka Rinne after the performance he put together last offseason. He brought in Hal Gill, Andrei Kostitsyn and Paul Gaustad, then later in the season made sure Alexander Radulov came over smoothly from the Russian leagues. The Predators reaped the benefits: 48 wins and the playoffs starting on home ice–first time since 2006-07 for them. They too just won their quarterfinal series against the Detroit Red Wings, also in five games.

Tallon also executed a huge roster change on the Panthers. Ten new players total made their way to South Florida, including Tomas Fleischmann, Brian Campbell (nominee for the Lady Byng Trophy) and Jose Theodore. Fleischmann led the team with 61 points and had a career-best season in many respects, Campbell was third in scoring among defensemen and played the most minutes in the entire league, Theodore had a great season–and, coached by new hire Kevin Dineen, the Panthers topped the Southeast Division and got their first playoff berth since Y2K was the worry du jour.

The winners of both awards will be announced at the NHL Awards on June 20. The next nominees to be announced: Vezina Trophy on April 25.

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