Masterton Trophy Finalists: Dupuis vs. Jagr vs. Zuccarello

Pascal Dupuis of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Jaromir Jagr of the Florida Panthers and Mats Zuccarello of the New York Rangers are the three finalists for the 2015-16 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is awarded “to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.”

Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images
Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Who wins the Masterton, which is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association?

(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.)

Why Pascal Dupuis deserves the Masterton

The NHL says:

Dupuis earned the Masterton nomination for the Penguins for his determination in rejoining the team after nearly a year of rehabilitation, training, medical testing and monitoring in caring for multiple injuries and blood clot concerns. He appeared in 18 games before a pair of medical scares convinced him to make the difficult decision to retire. At the request of GM Jim Rutherford, Dupuis remains with the Penguins to assist in a new capacity. He is with the team on a daily basis, attending games and providing feedback to the coaching staff and players.

Dupuis definitely meets the “perseverance” and “dedication” parts of this award. Despite some scary ailments, he continued to try and keep playing until ultimately another blood clot forced him off the ice for good. He hasn’t “retired” as the NHL description states since he still has another year remaining on his contract. But he hasn’t disappeared as a presence in the Penguins’ room, sticking around and helping out the coaching staff.

Why Jaromir Jagr deserves the Masterton

The NHL says:

Jagr was selected as the Panthers’ Masterton Trophy nominee in a season that saw the 44-year-old inspire his team to franchise records for wins (47) and points (103) while capturing their second division title. Playing in his 22nd NHL season, Jagr led the Panthers in scoring with 27-39--66, becoming the oldest player in League history to surpass the 60-point plateau. His work ethic and off-ice mentorship, particularly with linemates Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau, whose combined age is younger than Jagr, was considered as valuable as his on-ice production.

The Masterton isn’t the NHL’s “comeback player of the year” award and some of the voting shows that. Jagr didn’t return from a bad injury, he just won’t quit playing the game of hockey at a high level. At 44 years old, Jagr was second on the Panthers in goals scored (27) and led the team in points (66) while providing guidance for many of the young Cats.

Jagr will definitely be back next season, which is something we can't believe we continue saying for a guy whose rookie year was 1990-91!

Why Mats Zuccarello deserves the Masterton

The NHL says:

Zuccarello was named the Rangers’ Masterton Trophy nominee in recognition of a spirited return to action in 2015-16 after suffering a serious head injury during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Zuccarello missed the Rangers’ final 14 postseason games last year after being struck in the head by a slap shot in a game against Pittsburgh on April 24, 2015. He skated in 81 games this season and established career highs in several categories, including games played (81), goals (26), points (61) and power-play goals (seven).

That slap shot from Ryan McDonagh caused Zuccarello to be diagnosed with a brain contusion that left him unable to speak for days following the injury. He required speech therapy and also suffered a hairline fracture of his skull. Thankfully, he fully recovered over the summer and returned for a career season with the Rangers.

Who Wins the Masterton?

Dupuis or Zuccarello. Despite not always being an award for a player coming back from a disastrous injury or personal situation, it’s hard to overlook these two for what they went through in being able to return to the ice and contribute to their teams.

Our Ballot (in alphabetical order, as the PHWA was asked not to reveal our votes until after the award is handed out.)

1. Mike Condon, Montreal Canadiens 
2. Pascal Dupuis, Pittsburgh Penguins
3. Travis Hamonic, New York Islanders
4. Jaromir Jagr, Florida Panthers
5. Mats Zuccarello, New York Rangers

Condon certainly has shown perseverance in his young career spending the last three seasons in the AHL and ECHL before being thrust into the spotlight and taking over the No. 1 job in Montreal for the injured Carey Price. Hamonic, meanwhile, has been dealing with a personal situation throughout the season that caused him to quietly request a trade from the Islanders last fall.

- - - - - - -

Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!