RALEIGH, NC - Carolina Hurricanes forward Derek Ryan has been named as one of three finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. The Masterton Trophy is an annual award under the trusteeship of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association (PHWA) recognizing the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. The winner will be named at the 2017 NHL Awards to be held June 21 in Las Vegas.
Ryan, 30, was nominated for the Masterton Trophy on March 25, by the Carolina chapter of the PHWA. In its news release announcing Ryan as its nominee, the chapter stated:
Few players have taken a longer, or more unlikely, journey to the NHL than Ryan, undersized and undrafted, who has finally established himself with the Hurricanes as a 29-year old rookie.
His journey took him through nearly every level of hockey, from juniors to Canadian universities to the UHL and AHL and Austria and Sweden. He finally got his first NHL shot last season with the Hurricanes, then became a full-time player this season.
Ryan's decade-long quest to become an NHL player epitomizes perseverance and dedication to hockey and makes him an ideal choice for the Masterton Trophy.
Ryan (5'10", 170 lbs.) completed his second full season of North American professional hockey in 2016-17, scoring 11 goals and earning 18 assists (29 points) in 67 games with the Hurricanes. The Spokane, WA, native began the season with Carolina's American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, notching five goals and earning eight assists (13 points) in Charlotte's first nine games.
Ryan made his NHL debut with the Hurricanes during the 2015-16 season, nearly a decade after concluding his four-year junior hockey career with Spokane of the Western Hockey League (WHL). He played his first NHL game at New Jersey on March 1, 2016, scoring a goal that night to become the oldest player (29 years, 63 days) in Carolina franchise history to score in his NHL debut. Along with scoring two goals in six games last season with the Hurricanes, Ryan led all Checkers scorers in 2015-16 with 23 goals and 55 points, finishing 19th in scoring among all AHL players.
Ryan played his four seasons of junior hockey in Spokane, including the final two (2005-06 and 2006-07) under now-Hurricanes Head Coach Bill Peters. Following his junior hockey career, Ryan played four seasons at the University of Alberta where he helped the Golden Bears to four conference titles and two Canadian Intercollegiate Sports (CIS) national championships. After college, Ryan played three seasons in Austria before spending the 2014-15 season with Orebro of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). He led Orebro in assists (45) and points (60) that season, and was named the SHL's Forward of the Year. On June 15, 2015, he signed a free-agent contract with the Hurricanes.