NEW YORK -- Forward Brian Boyle of the New Jersey Devils, goaltender Roberto Luongo of the Florida Panthers and forward Jordan Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes are the three finalists for the 2017-18 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is awarded "to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey," the National Hockey League announced today.
The local chapters of the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) submitted nominations for the Masterton Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season and the top three vote-getters were designated as finalists. The winner will be announced Wednesday, June 20, during the 2018 NHL Awards™ presented by Hulu at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
Following are the finalists for the Masterton Trophy, in alphabetical order:
Brian Boyle, New Jersey Devils
Before Boyle set foot on the ice as a New Jersey Devil, he faced his biggest test. At the start of training camp the 33-year-old was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a type of bone marrow cancer. He worked his way back into the lineup by Nov. 1 and notched 10 goals over his first 25 games, including a memorable goal on the Devils' Hockey Fights Cancer Night at Prudential Center, a 3-2 win over Vancouver on Nov. 24. Boyle missed just three games after his season debut and represented the Devils at the 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game in Tampa Bay. While handling his own illness, his family and his career, Boyle has approached every day with the same optimistic attitude and perseverance that has inspired and lifted the Devils' locker room.
Roberto Luongo, Florida Panthers
Luongo, 39, overcame hand and groin injuries during the season and backstopped the Panthers' drive for an Eastern Conference Playoff berth. Sidelined by injury since early December, the franchise's all-time leader in wins, shutouts and appearances returned on Feb. 17 to help the Panthers defeat Calgary 6-3 and ignite a Florida rally in the East's Wild Card race. In a 13-game span, Luongo went 9-3-1 with a 2.44 GAA and .928 SV%. On Feb. 22, Luongo delivered a heartfelt, unscripted speech to the crowd at BB&T Center prior to Florida's game against Washington. The 12-year resident of nearby Parkland, Fla., addressed the recent Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting during the Panthers' pregame ceremony to honor the victims.
Jordan Staal, Carolina Hurricanes
Showing leadership and strength amidst a family tragedy, Staal was a key component of the Hurricanes throughout the season. In late February, Staal and his wife, Heather, announced their daughter, Hannah, was delivered stillborn due to a terminal birth defect previously diagnosed by doctors. Staal, who had assumed a bigger leadership role with the young Hurricanes by being named co-captain before the season, missed just three games following the tragedy. He registered 46 points (19 goals, 27 assists) in 79 games, the second-highest goal and point totals in his six seasons with Carolina. The 29-year-old skated in his 800th NHL game on Dec. 27 against Montreal and scored his 200th goal on Jan. 12 against Washington.
Bill Masterton Memorial Scholarship Fund
A $2,500 grant from the PHWA is awarded annually to the Bill Masterton Scholarship Fund, based in Bloomington, Minn., in the name of the Masterton Trophy winner.
The trophy was presented by the NHL Writers' Association in 1968 to commemorate the late Bill Masterton, a player with the Minnesota North Stars who exhibited to a high degree the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey and who died on Jan. 15, 1968.
The three finalists for NHL Trophies are being announced by NBC Sports in the United States and Sportsnet/TVA Sports in Canada during pregame programming for the Stanley Cup Playoffs through Monday, April 30. The series of announcements continues on Sunday, April 22, when the three finalists for the Calder Trophy will be unveiled.
2018 NHL Awards™ presented by Hulu
The 2018 NHL Awards™ presented by Hulu will be held Wednesday, June 20, at The Joint, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino's state-of-the-art concert and entertainment venue. It marks the second year that the NHL Awards™ will be held at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, home to world-class entertainment, dining and party hotspots as well as concerts and special events. NBCSN and Sportsnet will broadcast the event live in the United States and Canada, respectively, at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT.
A full lineup of presenters and entertainment will be announced at a later date. Fans can tweet about the event using the official hashtag #NHLAwards