Vaakanainen Masterton

The Anaheim chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association (PHWA) announced today that defenseman Urho Vaakanainen has been selected as the Ducks' nominee for the 2023-24 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. The award is presented annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. The winner will be selected at the end of the regular season by the full PHWA's 32 chapters.

Vaakanainen, 25 (1/1/99), has set career highs in points (1-13=14), goals, assists and appearances (65) this season, including his first NHL goal Jan. 25 at Dallas. His prior single-season bests were set in 2021-22, including games played (29, 14 with Anaheim, 15 Boston), points (0-6=6) and assists. 

The 6-2, 200-pound defenseman has participated in his first full NHL season after missing parts of three prior seasons due to injury. Vaakanainen missed the final 32 games of last season after undergoing hip surgery due to a torn labrum in his left hip. He also missed the opening 22 contests of 2022-23 with an upper-body injury suffered in preseason. He also missed numerous games in 2018-19 and 2021-22 due to upper-body injuries. 

Acquired from Boston with John Moore, 2022 first-round, 2023 second-round and 2024 second-round selections in the NHL Draft for Hampus Lindholm and Kodie Curran, March 19, 2022, Vaakanainen has recorded 1-23=24 points and 38 penalty minutes in 133 career NHL games with Anaheim (2022-present) and Boston (2018-22).

Anaheim’s past nominees for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy include Jakob Silfverberg (2022-23), Ryan Getzlaf (2021-22), David Backes (2020-21), Patrick Eaves (2018-19), Andrew Cogliano (five times, 2012-13, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18), Jonas Hiller (2011-12), Ray Emery (2010-11), George Parros (2008-09), Todd Marchant (2007-08), Jean-Sebastien Giguere (2006-07), Teemu Selanne (twice, 2005-06 and 2009-10), Steve Rucchin (2002-03) and Dan Bylsma (2000-01). Selanne was named the 2005-06 recipient of the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, the only Ducks player to receive the honor.

The winner of the Masterton Trophy is selected by a poll among the 32 chapters of the PHWA at the end of the regular season. A player from each team is nominated by the local chapter. The list will be narrowed to three finalists and a winner named at the NHL Awards this June 26. NHL writers first presented the trophy in 1968 to commemorate the late Bill Masterton, who played for the Minnesota North Stars and exhibited to a high degree the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Masterton died on Jan. 15, 1968, as a result of head injuries suffered during a game.