The Montreal chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) announced today the selection of Montreal Canadiens netminder Antti Niemi as the team's candidate for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for the 2017-18 season.
In recent years, defenseman Andrei Markov, candidate in 2012-13 and 2014-15, was the runner-up in the voting. Canadiens' forward and team captain Max Pacioretty was the Masterton recipient in 2011-12.
Claimed on waivers from the Florida Panthers on November 14, 2017 (after he was first claimed by the Panthers from the Penguins on October 24), Antti Niemi is currently playing in his 10th NHL season. Never drafted by an NHL team, he left the Lahti Pelicans from the Finnish League in 2008 to sign a contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, leading that team to the Stanley Cup the following season. Since joining the Canadiens, Niemi has been a true example of sportsmanship, perseverance and determination deserving his nomination for the Masterton Award.
The 34-year old goaltender who hails from Vantaa, just north of Helsinki, played 445 NHL games recording 233 wins, 133 losses and 55 OTL. He also recorded 36 shutouts, including his first with the Canadiens which he earned on Friday March 23 in Buffalo (3-0 win). Since he first minded the Canadiens net back on November 18, in Toronto, he has been a model of consistency delivering solid performances on each occasion he was called upon. At the time of announcing his nomination as Masterton candidate, Niemi had played 17 games with a .936 saving percentage (34 goals on 533 shots) and a 2.25 GAA.
The Canadiens' netminder will now be in contention with the league's 30 other nominees for this coveted award.
The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is awarded to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. The winner is selected by a poll among the 30 chapters of the PHWA at the end of the regular season. The trophy commemorates the late Bill Masterton, a player with the Minnesota North Stars, who lost his life following an NHL game on January 15, 1968.
Five Canadiens players have been awarded with the Masterton Trophy since its inception; Max Pacioretty (2011-12), Saku Koivu (2001-02), Serge Savard (1978-79), Henri Richard (1973-74), and Claude Provost (1967-68), who was the inaugural recipient of the award.