Toronto Maple Leafs: Roman Polak deserves Masterton Trophy nomination

TORONTON, ON - JANUARY 6: Roman Polak /

Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Roman Polak has been chosen as the team’s nominee for the 2018 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

As reported by TSN‘s Kristen Shilton, Roman Polak is the Toronto Maple Leafs‘ nomination for the 2018 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

The trophy is awarded annually to a player in the NHL who shows exceptional sportsmanship, perseverance and dedication, and is voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

Often, it is awarded to players who return from potentially career-threatening injuries or illness, but has also been awarded for other exceptional circumstances.

One such example came last season, when Ottawa Senators’ goalie Craig Anderson won the award, having helped the team come within one goal of making the Stanley Cup Finals after leaving part-way through the regular season to help his wife, who had been diagnosed with cancer.

Polak is fully deserving of his nomination, having suffered a broken leg against the Washington Capitals in last season’s playoff first round.

The injury was so severe that Polak reportedly needed to have an astonishing 13 screws put into his leg and go through an extensive rehabilitation process in his native Czech Republic.

At 30 years old, that injury could have ended Polak’s career then-and-there, but he returned to summer camp with the Leafs, determined to continue playing in the NHL.

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Since returning, Polak has been a polarising figure for the Leafs and has had fans both cheering and jeering for some of the plays he has made.

In 49 games this season, the 6-foot-2, 236 lbs right-handed defenceman has equaled his points tally from last season with 11 (two goals and nine assists) and averaged 17:35 in ice time.

He has used his big body positively at times this season, putting in 116 hits and blocking 78 shots, despite the extensive work that was required to fix his leg during the offseason.

For his performances, he is what he is – a bottom-pairing right-handed defenceman who can use his body well at times.

He is not a star, but his $1.1 million cap hit is a good contract for the team, with the defence still an area that requires some work ahead of next season.

Pola’s determination to work hard and come back from such a severe injury is to be applauded; the Leafs man fully deserves his nomination and should be one of the top choices to win the award this season.

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Do you agree with Polak as the Toronto Maple Leafs’ nomination for the 2018 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, or is there anyone else you would have selected? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.