Zach Hyman is the Toronto Maple Leafs’ deserving nominee for the 2020 Masterton Memorial Trophy

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Toronto Maple Leafs vs. New Jersey Devils
Photo: NHLI via Getty Images

Zach Hyman has been nominated by the Toronto Maple Leafs organization for 2020 Masteron Memorial Trophy, the club announced on Tuesday.

The Masterton winner is determined by a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association after each club nominates one player. Here is the full list of players nominated by their respective clubs for the 2019-20 season:

There is no shortage of great nominees on the above list. To name just a few, Bobby Ryan fought alcohol addiction and made a triumphant return to the ice in late February with a hat trick performance versus Vancouver. At age 23, Oskar Lindblom was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, after a great start to his season with the Flyers in which he led the team in goals. Dallas defenseman Stephen Johns’ journey to resuming his NHL career included 22 months on the shelf battling post-traumatic headaches from a concussion; he appeared in 17 games and scored twice this season. Jay Bouwmeester experienced a terrifying cardiac episode on the Blues’ bench in February, and fortunately, the outlook now looks positive for a return to the ice.

Hyman’s perseverance is also something to be celebrated. The Toronto native sustained a torn ACL in the 2019 playoffs and played through the injury in Games 4, 5, 6, and 7. Hyman initially believed it was a case of over-extension of his knee before getting the bad news about the extent of the damage and the need for major surgery after the series concluded.

It’s a real testament to Hyman’s work ethic off the ice that a number of people in the organization, when initially asked about his injury after the conclusion of the 2019 playoffs, said they didn’t think the normal rules about recovery time — as well as the adjustment period in returning to competitive hockey a month and a half into the season — apply to him. Hyman then proved those predictions exactly right by having his best-ever NHL season prior to the pause, playing to a 26-goal and 46-point pace despite missing 19 games.

Hyman again showed an uncanny ability for helping to make a scoring line “go” by performing the dirty work of dogged puck retrieval and persistent net-front presence, successfully complementing Tavares-Marner, Matthews-Marner, and Matthews-Nylander duos at different times throughout the season.

Through sheer force of will, Hyman has also developed his puck skills — once panned by the fan base as evidence he couldn’t play in the top-six forward group — and finishing ability to the point where he is now capable of bearing down on scoring chances and completing plays, even while frequently stationed on his off-wing. Hyman’s numbers this season were an open-and-shut case for his belonging on a scoring line — prorated over 82 games, Hyman was tracking for a 34-goal, 60-point season.

Hyman has also continued to show leadership in the community over the past year in continuing the tradition of the Zach Hyman Celebrity Classic in support of children’s charities, including SickKids, Right to Play, and the UJA Foundation. Now in its third year, Hyman raised $100,000 in year one (summer 2018) and the contributions have only grown in the years since.

The Leafs have had one Masterton Memorial Trophy award winner in franchise history — Jason Blake, who despite a diagnosis of chronic myelogenous leukemia, appeared in all 82 games in the 2007-08 season.