The Professional Hockey Writers’ Association announced the 2019-20 nominees for the NHL’s Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy Tuesday morning, recognizing six WHL Alumni among the 31 finalists.
The Masterton Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.
The six WHL Alumni included in the 31 team nominees are Curtis Lazar (Buffalo Sabres), James Reimer (Carolina Hurricanes), Shea Weber (Montreal Canadiens), Thomas Hickey (New York Islanders), Jay Bouwmeester (St. Louis Blues), and Shea Theodore (Vegas Golden Knights).
Lazar, a 25-year-old product of Salmon Arm, B.C, is the Sabres nominee, having joined the NHL Club last summer as a free agent signing. After starting the season with the AHL’s Rochester Americans, Lazar persevered and eventually established himself as a reliable mainstay on the Sabres’ NHL roster.
Selected by the Ottawa Senators in the first round (17th overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft, Lazar skated in 199 career WHL regular season contests – all with the Edmonton Oil Kings. He amassed 169 points (99G-70A) and added another 53 points (28G-25A) in 67 playoff games, helping the Oil Kings win two WHL Championships (2012, 2014). Lazar was named the Most Sportsmanlike Player at the 2014 Memorial Cup, helping the Oil Kings claim the national crown.
Reimer, a 32-year-old product of Arborg, Man., is the Hurricanes nominee. He was acquired by Carolina via trade from the Florida Panthers during the offseason. In his 10th NHL season, Reimer went 14-6-2 with a 2.66 goals-against average, .914 save percentage and three shutouts.
Selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the fourth round (99th overall) of the 2006 NHL Draft, Reimer appeared in 124 WHL games – all with the Red Deer Rebels. He went 41-56-7-7 with a 2.72 GAA, .912 save percentage and four shutouts over the course of his WHL career.
Weber, a 34-year-old product of Sicamous, B.C., is the Canadiens nominee in this his third season with Montreal. Over his three years in Montreal, Weber has persevered through injury, missing 56 games and 24 games, respectively, in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons. The pandemic-shortened 2019-20 campaign saw Weber skate in 65 contests, scoring 15 goals to rank fourth among all NHL defencemen.
Selected by the Nashville Predators in the second round (49th overall), Weber spent his entire WHL career with the Kelowna Rockets, playing 190 regular season games, winning WHL Championships in 2003 and 2005, with a Memorial Cup title sandwiched in between in 2004.
Hickey, a 31-year-old product of Calgary, Alta., is the Islanders nominee, having spent his entire eight-season NHL career with the Club. Back in March 2020, Hickey lost his brother, Dan, to an aggressive brain tumour. Dan’s diagnosis came in September 2019.
Selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the first round (fourth overall) of the 2007 NHL Draft, Hickey spent his entire WHL career with the Seattle Thunderbirds, playing 262 games with the Club and collecting 177 points (39G-138A). He was named to the WHL Western Conference First All-Star team for 2007-08 and 2008-09.
Bouwmeester, a 36-year-old product of Edmonton, Alta., is the Blues nominee, in this his seventh full season with the Club. Back on February 11, Bouwmeester suffered a cardiac episode while on the Blues bench during a game against the Anaheim Ducks. He underwent surgery to install an implantable cardioverter defibrillator to restore his heart’s normal rhythm in case of a future episode.
Selected by the Florida Panthers in the first round (third overall) of the 2002 NHL Draft, Bouwmeester spent his entire WHL career with the Medicine Hat Tigers, amassing 151 points (40G-111A) in 194 WHL regular season games. He was named to the WHL Eastern Conference First All-Star Team for the 2001-02 season.
Theodore, a 24-year-old product of Langley, B.C., is the Golden Knights nominee, in his third season with the Club. Last summer, Theodore was diagnosed with Stage I testicular cancer. After undergoing surgery, he was cancer-free within three months and has put in substantial effort to help spread awareness to other young men.
Selected by the Anaheim Ducks in the first round (26th overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft, Theodore spent his entire WHL career with the Seattle Thunderbirds, registering 212 points (58G-154A) in 257 career regular season outings. During the 2013-14 season, he led all WHL defencemen in scoring with 79 points and was named to the WHL Western Conference First All-Star Team. In 2014-15, Theodore was once again named to the WHL Western Conference First All-Star Team, and he was the recipient of the Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy as WHL Defenceman of the Year.