The National Hockey League continued to announce 2021 NHL Award finalists on Tuesday with the three candidates for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. The Masterton Trophy is awarded annually to “the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey,” as selected by members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association.
The finalists for the 2021 Masterton Trophy are Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, Philadelphia Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom and San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau.
The 2020-21 campaign was a nice bounce back year for Dumba, who managed to put up 21 (6+15) in 51 games played for the Wild this season.
The 26-year-old was honored following the 2019-20 season with the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, recognizing "the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community." During last season, Dumba helped found the Hockey Diversity Alliance, and also spoke out against racism and intolerance in hockey.
Dumba continued his inspirational work through the 2020-21 season, which included him hosting his inaugural Matt Dumba Hockey Without Limits Camp in February, as part of Hockey Day Minnesota 2021.
Dumba is the third Wild player up for recognition at the 2021 NHL Awards this year, joining forward Kirill Kaprizov (Calder Trophy) and Jared Spurgeon (Lady Byng Trophy).
After an early exit in the NHL's Return To Play tournament last season, the Wild bounced back this year with a 35-16-5 record and 75 points, which resulted in a third place finish in the Pacific Division.
Minnesota put up a great fight in Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, nearly coming back from a 3-1 deficit in their series with the Vegas Golden Knights. However, the effort came up just short, as the Wild ended up losing the series in seven games.
This is the second-consecutive season in which Lindblom is a finalist for the Masterton Trophy.
Lindblom was first a finalist last season after being diagnosed with a rare type of bone cancer called Ewing's sarcoma in December of 2019. The Flyers forward started a nearly seven-month intense chemotherapy regimen that sidelined him for the remainder of the regular season. Remarkably, Lindblom was able to return to the Philadelphia lineup during the NHL's Return To Play plan in Toronto, where he appeared in two Stanley Cup Playoff games in September against the New York Islanders.
The 24-year-old was able to return to the regular lineup for the Flyers at the start of the 2020-21 season, and ended up playing in 50 of 56 games, scoring eight goals and registering six assists for 14 points. In March, Lindblom received even more good news in March when he was declared cancer-free following a check up scan.
While Lindblom's season was one to remember for his comeback from cancer, the Flyers ended up missing the 2021 postseason following a disappointing campaign. Philadelphia went on to go 25-23-8 in the regular season, where the team finished sixth in the East Division standings.
As for Marleau, the 41-year-old made history this season while returning to the Sharks for a third time in his career.
In a matchup with the Vegas Golden Knights back on April 19, the 23-year veteran of the league played in his 1,768th career game in the NHL, breaking Gordie Howe's record for the most regular season games played in NHL history.
Just a couple of days later, Marleau would set another NHL milestone by playing in his 900th-consecutive game, becoming the fourth player to skate in more than 900-straight contests. His 910 consecutive games played currently sits fourth all-time in NHL history, behind just Doug Jarvis (964), Keith Yandle (922) and Gary Unger (914).
While his future beyond this season is still unknown, Marleau has set his mark in the NHL as one of the most durable and reliable players to ever play the game. The former second overall pick of the Sharks in the 1997 NHL Draft has scored 566 career goals, while adding 631 assists for 1,197 career points, putting him 50th in all-time scoring.
This past season, though, was a trying one for Marleau in San Jose, as he only managed four goals and five assists for nine points over a full 56 games.
As for the Sharks, the team ended the 2020-21 regular season going 21-28-7 and finishing seventh in the Pacific Division standings. They ended up missing out on the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a second-straight year.
The winner of the Masterton Trophy will be announced as part of the 2021 NHL Awards starting Monday, June 14.
The next round of finalists for the 2021 NHL Awards will be announced on Wednesday, June 9, with the three finalists for the James Norris Memorial Trophy, recognizing the defenseman "who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position."