Seeler goes from stepping away to being voted Flyers' Masterton Trophy nominee


Two years ago, Nick Seeler wasn't playing hockey.

He needed to step away from the game in 2020-21, when the NHL had a shortened 56-game season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Seeler didn't know what was next.

"I wasn't sure what my plan was when I took the year off," he said in February. "I just needed kind of a mental and physical break. A few months went by and started to get that fire and that passion back, that true passion for the game."

Now, he's very much back in the game. His hard-working path to becoming one of the Flyers' most reliable defensemen this season has earned him a nomination for the 2022-23 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

Seeler was voted by the Professional Hockey Writers Association's Philadelphia chapter as the Flyers' nominee for the NHL award, which is given annually to "the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to ice hockey."

"I'm truly honored and humbled to be nominated for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy," Seeler said in a statement released by the team. "Thank you to those who voted for me and to the entire Flyers organization for making these past two years feel like home. And of course, thank you to my family and close friends for always supporting me throughout my hockey journey. Go Flyers!"

The 29-year-old has set career highs in games played (76), goals (four) and assists (10). But his effort-based style of defense and team-first attitude are the qualities that have won over the Flyers. Seeler is one of the team's truest defenders on the back end. He has a team-leading 157 blocked shots, he kills penalties in his 14:27 minutes per game and he never hesitates to defend a teammate.

"Nick is an excellent candidate for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy," Flyers interim general manager Danny Briere said in a statement released by the team. "Not only did he make tremendous strides in his own game, he proved to all of us that he is a heart and soul player on our team that can be counted on night in and night out no matter the circumstances."

In training camp last season, Seeler wasn't on anybody's radar. He ended up playing 43 games for the big club. This season, he had to win over a new coach.

"I remember the conversations, kind of really wasn't on the map. I just don't remember a lot of conversation," John Tortorella said in February. "And here he is. And improving. That's the really good part of it, that I think he's still improving."

And earning everything he gets.

"That's kind of been my mindset since I was younger, always never really satisfied, always trying to continue to grow my game," Seeler said in February. "As cliché as it sounds, it's definitely true in my circumstance where you can't get comfortable.

"It has been great, it really has. A few years ago, not playing that entire year, and then ultimately this is where we are. It's definitely a combination of a lot of things — hard work, a lot of people supporting me and having the right fit I think has been really important."

Last season, Kevin Hayes was a finalist for the Masterton Trophy. In 2020-21, Oskar Lindblom won the honor, becoming the fourth Flyer to ever take home the award. He joined Bob Clarke (1971-72), Tim Kerr (1988-89) and Ian Laperriere (2010-11) as the Flyers' recipients.

Following a vote by the PHWA, the winner of the honor will be announced among the NHL awards.

Here are the voted Masterton nominees for each club:

  • Anaheim Ducks — Jakob Silfverberg
  • Arizona Coyotes — Clayton Keller 
  • Boston Bruins — Nick Foligno
  • Buffalo Sabres — Craig Anderson
  • Calgary Flames — Mikael Backlund
  • Carolina Hurricanes — Jordan Martinook
  • Chicago Blackhawks — Alex Stalock
  • Colorado Avalanche — Andrew Cogliano
  • Columbus Blue Jackets — Boone Jenner
  • Dallas Stars — Jamie Benn
  • Detroit Red Wings — Robby Fabbri
  • Edmonton Oilers — Derek Ryan
  • Florida Panthers — Patric Hornqvist
  • Los Angeles Kings — Pheonix Copley
  • Minnesota Wild — Mason Shaw
  • Montreal Canadiens — Alex Belzile
  • Nashville Predators — Cody Glass
  • New Jersey Devils — Dougie Hamilton
  • New York Islanders — Zach Parise
  • New York Rangers — Jimmy Vesey
  • ​Ottawa Senators — Derick Brassard
  • Philadelphia Flyers — Nick Seeler
  • Pittsburgh Penguins — Kris Letang
  • San Jose Sharks — Nikolai Knyzhov
  • Seattle Kraken — Brandon Tanev
  • St. Louis Blues — Sammy Blais
  • Tampa Bay Lightning — Pierre-Edouard Bellemare
  • Toronto Maple Leafs — Mark Giordano
  • Vancouver Canucks — Brock Boeser
  • Vegas Golden Knights — Phil Kessel
  • Washington Capitals — John Carlson
  • Winnipeg Jets — Sam Gagner

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