Minnesota’s Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Anaheim’s Ray Emery, and Willie Mitchell of the L.A. Kings are just three players that have been nominated by their respective teams as 2011 finalists for the NHL’s Masterton Trophy. As the nominees begin to roll in, the three aforementioned players figure to be favourites to take home the trophy awarded to the player who best exemplifies “qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to ice hockey”.

Over the past year Bouchard, Emery and Mitchell all shared the unenviable circumstances of not knowing what the future held for them in terms of their playing careers. Mitchell and Bouchard both overcame devastating concussions and returned to the NHL this season after the former missed nearly half of the 2009-10 season and the latter played in but one game between October of 2009 and December of 2010. Ray Emery resumed his NHL career in March after undergoing bone-graft surgery to repair a ball joint in his right hip.

Bouchard’s teammate Jose Theodore was the 2010 recipient of the award, having turned in his best season in recent memory with the Washington Capitals after losing his infant son in 2009. Emery is surrounded by former Masterton Trophy winners in Anaheim as Saku Koivu, Teemu Selanne and Jason Blake have all taken home the trophy in the last ten years.

The 2011 NHL Awards are taking place in Las Vegas on June 22nd. The festivities will be broadcast on VERSUS in the United States and CBC in Canada.