It’s getting close to awards season in the hockey world, so we’re beginning a recurring feature here at FlamesNation: For Your Consideration. Here, we’ll profile Flames we feel should be contenders for NHL awards and explain why they should be in the hunt.
And who’s better to start off with than Lance Bouma in contention for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy?
Per the NHL:
The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is an annual award under the trusteeship of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association and is given to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.
Masterton was former college hockey player who passed away in January 1968 after suffering an injury in-game while playing for the Minnesota North Stars, during his rookie NHL season. The award was first given following the 1967-68 season in his honour.
Bouma was drafted in 2008 and turned pro in the Flames organization when the 2010-11 season began. He yo-yoed between Calgary and Abbotsford Heat, seemingly getting himself firmly entrenched as the team’s “best player not yet a full-timer in Calgary.” But unfortunately, he was injured early in the 2012-13 season – playing in Abbotsford during the NHL lockout – damaging both his ACL and MCL. It was doubly unfortunate, in the sense that he was almost certainly going to be playing in the NHL when the lockout eventually ended and the NHL season began. Instead, he was forced to watch from the sidelines.
After a full year of rehab – mostly spent in Calgary, working in the video room with Flames coaches and learning systems – he made the jump to full-time NHL employment in 2013-14. And this season? He made the jump from being merely “employed” as an NHL regular to being a strong contributor and occasional difference-maker for the Flames.
In 2013-14, he put up 5 goals and 15 points. So far this season, he has 16 goals and 33 points. He’s become one of Calgary’s most versatile players and, through his shot-blocking and clutch scoring, he’s emerged as the team’s heart and soul.
All that after losing an entire season to a knee injury that could have completely derailed his career. Instead, it may have given him a jump-start.
It’s hard to gauge Bouma’s chances given the 30 PHWA chapters league-wide haven’t announced their nominees yet, but there are few potential contenders with stories as enticing as his.
Note: There’s no guarantee that Bouma will be the Flames nominee for the Masterton – the local PHWA chapter votes on the team’s nominee – because the team also has Matt Stajan, who is another strong nominee considering his strong veteran presence for the team and the tragedy his family went through last season. Either man would be an excellent representative.