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Danton Heinen is this year's Bruins nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

BOSTON -- Danton Heinen returned to Boston over the offseason without any guarantees that he would crack the Bruins lineup. Through hard work and perseverance, the 28-year-old not only played his way into one of Boston's top six forward spots, but also earned himself a prestigious nomination. 

Heinen was announced as the Bruins 2024 nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is awarded annually "to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey."

Asked about being named a Masterton nominee, Heinen downplayed his comeback and explained it as overcoming "hockey adversity." Others have had to overcome much more to make their way to the ice.

"There are other guys who go through real stuff," he told reporters on Friday. "It's a game we play and it is your life, but we're lucky to do it. There are a lot worse problems out there than trying to make a hockey team."

Heinen is still grateful for the nomination, and glad that he ended up back in Boston. 

"It's been a fun year. A lot of uncertainty coming in, but to be a part of it and to be on this team, it's fun," Heinen said Friday.

Heinen spent his first four seasons in the NHL with Boston after he was a fourth-round pick by the team in 2014. His best season came in his rookie campaign in 2017-18, when Heinen scored 16 goals to go with 31 assists for a career-high 47 points.

The Bruins traded Heinen to Anaheim in 2020 for Nick Ritchie, and he played a season and a half for the Ducks before spending the last two seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He went unsigned for much of the offseason before signing a professional tryout agreement with the B's on October 30.

That eventually turned into a one-year contract with the Bruins, and Heinen has rewarded them with 16 goals and 18 assists over 69 games so far this season. He is a plus-14 for the season, which ranks fifth-best on the Bruins roster.

A Bruins player has won the Masterton trophy a total of four times: Phil Kessel (2007), Cam Neely (1994), Gord Kluzak (1990), and Charlie Simmer (1986). Each nominee is selected by the local chapter of the Pro Hockey Writer's Association, and then a winner is selected in a poll of all chapters of the PHWA after the regular season.

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