The Blue Jackets rookie goalie is up for another award. Mason has been nominated for the Vezina Trophy, which is awarded to the goalie who is voted as the best at his position by the NHL GM's.
Mason is the first Blue Jacket to be nominated for two awards in the same year, and could become only the fifth player to win both the Calder and Vezina trophies in the same year. He has the chance to join Ed Belfour, Tom Barrasso, Tony Esposito, and Frankie Brimsek as the only rookies to win both trophies.
Mason's story is incredible for a few reasons. Just over a year ago, he was playing in the World Junior Championships for Team Canada. In the middle of the tournament, shortly before a semi-final game, he learned he was traded from the London Knights to the Kitchener Rangers with hopes to lead them to a championship. He didn't let this affect his performance, however, as he led Canada to a gold medal and was named tournament MVP.
His time with Kitchener was cut short. He was 5-0 in the playoffs when his season was ended due to a knee injury. He had two surgeries over the past Summer. His surgeries prevented him from fully participating in training camp with the Blue Jackets last Fall, and by the time he was healthy, he was sent to Columbus' minor league affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch.
After only 3 games with Syracuse, Mason was recalled to Columbus due to an injury to Pascal Leclaire. The rest was history.
Because of an injured Leclaire, and a poor season from Fredrik Norrena, he got a chance to start and never looked back. He recorded his first shutout just a few games later, and finished the month of November with a 5-2-1 record and 2 shutouts. He won Rookie of the Month honors for November, and again in December, following Blue Jackets' center Derick Brassard, who won in October, giving the Jackets three straight winners.
It is not hyperbole to say he saved Columbus' season. The 20-year-old kid who had just 3 games of professional level experience, recovering from knee surgery, is now up for rookie of the year honors as well as being named a finalist as the best goalie in the NHL this year.
Oh, and he led Columbus to their first ever playoff berth. He posted 10 shutouts, which led the NHL, and is the most for a rookie since Tony Esposito had 15 for Chicago in 1970.
He is nominated along with Boston's Tim Thomas and Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom. The NHL Awards ceremony is June 18th and will be aired on Versus.