Defenseman Erik Karlsson has been voted as the Ottawa Senators’ nominee for the Bill Masterton award that will be handed out at the League Awards show in Las Vegas after the Stanley Cup final. The award for “the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey” is voted on by each team’s chapter of the Professional Hockey Writer’s Association, and then a winner is voted on from all 30 club nominees.
It is traditionally given to a player who overcomes serious injury or personal hardship to excel in the game. Last year Josh Harding, who persevered despited being diagnosed with MS, was the winner.
Karlsson has returned to offensive form this season after having his Achilles tendon almost completely severed 15 games into last season. He missed most of the rest of the season before staging a miraculous comeback just prior to the playoffs. He was certainly not at full strength during his comeback but the summer allowed him to get closer to normal.
The injury came on the heels (no pun intended) of a Norris Trophy win, and looked on his way to another before Matt Cooke‘s skate found an unfortunate landing spot on the back of Karlsson’s leg.
Karlsson has set a franchise record with 20 goals this season and became the first defenseman in 13 years to have 20 goals and 50 assists in the same season.
While he has struggled to find his game defensively and the remnants of the injury still hampers his ability to pivot, the dedication he has shown to get back to an elite level so quickly made him a pretty obvious choice to be the Senators’ nominee and a potential winner of the award.