SB Nation writers were recently asked to vote on the seven major NHL awards. This week and next, the results will be unveiled at the main site with today featuring the Bill Masterton Trophy, "an annual award given to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey." Here's how Fear the Fin (okay, just me) voted.
Winner: Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens. Full disclosure: I really couldn't care less about this award. But it seemed like Pacioretty was a deserving recipient. After the now-infamous incident last March involving Zdeno Chara and a stanchion that left him concussed and with a fractured vertebra, Pacioretty returned this season and had a spectacular year. He was the Canadiens' best player and one of the best wingers in the entire league, even comparing favorably to the likes of Phil Kessel as Eyes on the Prize showed in this excellent piece.
2nd place: Manny Malhotra, Vancouver Canucks. After undergoing eye surgery that left him with a significant loss of vision in his left eye, Malhotra returned to the NHL this season and while his play came under criticism by people who don't understand the unique role he plays on the Canucks, he set what was probably a modern day NHL record in starting nearly 87% of his even-strength shifts in the defensive zone. His usage by Alain Vigneault once again allowed the team the luxury of giving the Sedin twins butter-soft starting locations and let the Canucks artificially inflate Cody Hodgson's trade value, as GM Mike Gillis publicly admitted to doing, by starting the rookie center exclusively in the offensive zone for a stretch at the beginning of 2012.
3rd place: Kari Lehtonen, Dallas Stars. Lehtonen has always been one of the most talented goalies in the NHL but a combination of playing behind a dreadful Atlanta Thrashers team as well as his oft-reported lack of commitment to offseason fitness that likely contributed to his injury-proneness held him back from entering the ranks of elite NHL netminders. He still has to post another season or two like this one to be considered in that kind of company but after widespread reports of Lehtonen concentrating on summer workouts since being acquired by the Stars and not showing up to camp overweight and out of shape, as he did so often in Atlanta, he was finally rewarded with his best season in the NHL, finishing eighth in the league in SV%.