Early on Monday morning, the nominees for the 2023 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy were announced. Each year, the individual PHWA chapters of the league nominate a player from each team for the award. Eventually this list is narrowed down to three nominees and a winner is selected from there.
The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to ice hockey. The Edmonton Nominees the past few seasons were Mike Smith in 2021 and Kris Russell in 2022.
This year, the Edmonton PHWA nominee is none other than Derek Ryan:
Ryan is one of the greatest NHL stories that is not well known across the league. Going undrafted and eventually playing for the University of Alberta, Ryan would end up playing in Austria and Sweden before sniffing a shot at the NHL.
In the 2015–16 season he was signed by the Carolina Hurricanes and despite playing most of the season in the AHL, he would make his NHL debut that season before moving into a full time NHL role in 2016–17.
After playing for three seasons in Carolina and with the Calgary Flames, Ryan was signed as a free agent in 2021 making the rare Battle of Alberta swap to play for the Oilers. The move worked out flawlessly. Despite his offensive production taking a bit of a dip, Ryan has become one of the most relied upon depth defensive forwards. Soaking up a ton of penalty kill time, Ryan is an unsung hero with the Oilers.
This award could not be more reflective of Ryan’s journey and career. Congratulations Derek!
Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire