After earning a chance to play with the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, Curtis Lazar did everything in his power to make sure he stayed up in the blue and gold. His hard work, aggressive play and energy and determination undoubtedly contributed to his being nominated for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy by the Buffalo chapter of the PHWA.
The Masterton is award to the NHL player “who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.”
Lazar is one of thirty nominees from across the NHL, a list that includes former Sabres Ryan Miller and Nathan Gerbe. Other notable nominees include Oskar Lindblom, who has been battling bone cancer; Shea Theodore, who battled testicular cancer and returned to the NHL this season to have a career-best year; and Bobby Ryan, who missed three months of the season after entering the NHL/NHLPA assistance program for alcohol.
Here’s the full list of nominees:
The Professional Hockey Writers’ Association proudly announces chapters’ nominees for the 2020 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy: pic.twitter.com/EpBQDoMhe5— PHWA (@ThePHWA) June 9, 2020
Three finalists will be named in the coming weeks.
Lazar appeared in 38 games for the Sabres this season, despite not making the team from the get-go after training camp. He got his opportunity at an NHL spot after an injury to Marcus Johansson, and he certainly did his best to capitalize on the chances he was given as a result. He finished the season with 10 points, including five goals, despite playing primarily with Zemgus Girgensons and Jimmy Vesey over the course of the season.
The 25-year-old is set to become a restricted free agent this summer. He earned $700,000 last season.
Historically, the Masterton Trophy has twice been awarded to a member of the Buffalo Sabres. Don Luce won it in 1975 thanks to a significant increase in point production (38 points!) from his previous season. Pat LaFontaine also won the award in 1995 after overcoming serious head injuries.
Buffalo’s chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, who nominated Lazar for the award, includes chair Mike Harrington (The Buffalo News), John Vogl, John Wawrow, Bill Hoppe, Joe Yerdon, Budd Bailey and Lance Lysowski.