Penguins star Sidney Crosby among nominees for Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby is among the nominees for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy revealed by the Professional Hockey Writers Association on Friday.

The trophy is awarded to a player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the game. Masterton is the only player in NHL history to die as a direct result of an on-ice injury.

A player from each team is nominated by its local PHWA chapter. PHWA writers will vote for three finalists, with the winner revealed during the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Crosby is defying age with his performance this season. The 36-year-old is leading the Penguins with 39 goals and 45 assists in 76 games, ensuring a 19th consecutive season averaging a point per game, matching Wayne Gretzky's record.

”Any time you can be in that company, it's pretty cool,'' Crosby said of the milestone.

The nominees from Canadian teams are Calgary's Oliver Kylington, Edmonton's Vincent Desharnais, Montreal's Joel Armia, Ottawa's Claude Giroux, Toronto's Ilya Samsonov, Vancouver's Noah Juulsen, and Winnipeg's Laurent Brossoit.

Kylington returned to the NHL in late January after a nearly 20-month absence for mental health reasons. Kylington continued to work with Flames’ support staff through his personal leave and is back to being a fixture on Calgary’s blue line. The 26-year-old has two goals and three assists in 27 games this season.

“At one point in time, I didn’t think I was going to be here,” Kylington said before his first game back with the Flames.

Desharnais has travelled from the BCHL to the NCAA, and from the ECHL to the NHL. After making his NHL debut at 26 last year, the now-27-year-old is a mainstay on the Oilers blue line thanks to his grit and physical play. The six-foot-seven defenceman has played in 70 games this season, producing one goal and 10 assists.

"It's always nice to be recognized like that — to be nominated for an NHL trophy. If you would have told me that a couple of years ago, I would have probably laughed at you," Desharnais said Friday.

"There were a few moments that were pretty tough in my career … but I think that kind of built me into this person that I am today and into this hard-working player."

Armia was passed over on waivers to start the season and sent down to play in the American Hockey League for the first time since the 2015-16 season. The 30-year-old winger has remained with the Canadiens since being recalled on Nov. 25 and produced 16 goals — tying his career high — in 59 games this season.

“He cares about the game. He loves hockey,” Canadiens coach Martin St. Louis said. “He just took everything into his own hands and he just built himself back up. Someone who cares a lot about the game, who loves the game, usually will do that.”

The 36-year-old Giroux has not missed a regular-season game since signing a free-agent contract with the Senators before the 2022-23 season. This season, the consistent winger reached the 20-goal mark for the 10th time in his career and has 60 points through 75 games.

Samsonov has bounced back from a disastrous start to the 2023-24 campaign which saw him placed on waivers by the Leafs on Dec. 31. At the time he had a 5-2-6 record with an .862 save percentage and 3.95 goals-against average. He has gone 16-3-1 with two shutouts since Jan. 21.

Juulsen, picked by the Canadiens in the first round of the 2015 draft (26th overall), suffered a devastating eye injury five years ago that nearly ended his playing career. After recovering, he bounced around the American Hockey League before earning an NHL spot on Vancouver’s blue line this season. The 27-year-old Juulsen has one goal and seven assists.

Brossoit has been plagued with injuries across his career — including a groin injury that ended his Stanley Cup playoff run with the Las Vegas Golden Knights last year. Brossoit has not only stayed healthy this season but has thrived in tandem with Connor Hellebuyck. He has a 13-5-2 record with a 2.10 goals-against average, a .925 save percentage and two shutouts.

“I’ve always known I have the ability to be one of the best goalies in the world," Brossoit said. "I think that was my biggest motivator in not giving up and making sure I take advantage of every day to get healthy."

Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy nominees:

Anaheim Ducks — D Urho Vaakanainen; Arizona Coyotes — G Connor Ingram; Boston Bruins — F Danton Heinen; Buffalo Sabres — G Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen; Calgary Flames — D Oliver Kylington; Carolina Hurricanes — G Frederik Andersen; Chicago Blackhawks — F Colin Blackwell; Colorado Avalanche — F Jonathan Drouin; Columbus Blue Jackets — D Zach Werenski; Dallas Stars — F Matt Duchene; Detroit Red Wings — G Alex Lyon; Edmonton Oilers — D Vincent Desharnais; Florida Panthers — D Oliver Ekman-Larsson; Los Angeles Kings — F Viktor Arvidsson; Minnesota Wild — F Marco Rossi; Montreal Canadiens — F Joel Armia; Nashville Predators — F Michael McCarron; New Jersey Devils — F Curtis Lazar; New York Islanders — F Cal Clutterbuck; New York Rangers — G Jonathan Quick; Ottawa Senators — F Claude Giroux; Philadelphia Flyers — F Sean Couturier; Pittsburgh Penguins — F Sidney Crosby; San Jose Sharks — F Justin Bailey; Seattle Kraken — G Joey Daccord; St. Louis Blues — F Nathan Walker; Tampa Bay Lightning — F Michael Eyssimont; Toronto Maple Leafs — G Ilya Samsonov; Vancouver Canucks — D Noah Juulsen; Vegas Golden Knights — D Alex Pietrangelo; Washington Capitals — F T.J. Oshie; Winnipeg Jets — G Laurent Brossoit.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 5, 2024.

With files from The Associated Press

The Canadian Press