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Tanev is Flames Masterton candidate amid career year

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Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom

Calgary Flames defenceman Chris Tanev reminds me of one of his former teammates — former Flames captain Mark Giordano.

Their games may be slightly different. Giordano was more offensively gifted. Tanev is one of the most stable defensive anchors you could conjure on the blueline. But both thrive on hard work and determination. And both seemed to get better with age.

Now, both can say they have been Calgary Flames nominees for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

Tanev was named as nominee by the Calgary chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association on Monday. The full membership of the PHWA will select the ultimate winner from a pool of nominees chosen by each local chapter.

With six goals and 28 points (both career highs), Tanev is a stabilizing force for the Flames’ back end. He hasn’t missed a game in two NHL seasons with the Calgary Flames, and has been a huge reason for the incredible emergence of blueline partner Oliver Kylington this season.

He helped Rasmus Andersson grow while paired with the exceptional Swede for a good chunk of the 2020-21 season, and plays a huge role on the penalty kill while setting the tone with his work ethic in general.

Rugged and dependable with some offensive kick

“Chris Tanev meets all the criteria of a Masterton Trophy nominee — perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey,” the Calgary chapter of the PHWA wrote in a release. “While Tanev had some tough luck with injuries during his stint in Vancouver, he hasn’t missed a single game in his two seasons with the Flames. That certainly doesn’t mean that the durable, dependable defenceman isn’t often playing through pain.

“The 32-year-old is a mentor to his blue-line partners, a respected leader in the locker-room and the sort of under-rated player that you appreciate more and more when you see him in action every night. He is also a fearless shot-blocker, consistently sacrificing his body to help out his goaltender. Flames starter Jacob Markstrom showed his appreciation this season with a mask that includes a tribute to Tanev’s one-of-a-kind hockey smile. Tanev is a worthy candidate for the Masterton Trophy.”

The Masterton Trophy is given to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. It’s named after the late Bill Masterton, who died in 1968 following injuries sustained in a game.

Late bloomer had a hockey hiatus in high school

There was a time when Tanev wasn’t even sure he’d be playing hockey. After getting cut by a couple of teams, he took a two-year break as a teenager.

Tanev was passed over by every team in his draft years inJunior A (OJHL). He went on to play college hockey at the unheralded Rochester Institute of Technology.

A late bloomer at RIT, Tanev finally got some NHL attention. He signed with the Vancouver Canucks after his freshman season, working his way into the full-time lineup in 2013.

Now, Tanev is a leader on and off the ice. For a division winner, and one of the teams expected to do some serious damage in the NHL playoffs.

He wears a letter as an assistant captain. Tanev has also had his name tossed around as a candidate for the Calgary Flames’ next captain.

Another thing he and Giordano would have in common.

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