Kings’ Lizotte is the Perfect Masterton Trophy Nominee

Blake Lizotte has come a long way since signing with the Los Angeles Kings. The undrafted, undersized player has fought and beat the odds to become an NHL regular. When the Los Angeles chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association selected him as the Kings’ nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Award, it just seemed fitting. Here is a look at Lizotte’s career so far and why he is a perfect nominee for this award.

Lizotte Before the Kings

Every kid who picks up a hockey stick dreams of one day playing in the NHL. Very few have the necessary size and skill to play professional hockey, let alone the NHL. Lizotte had the dream and the skill, but he lacked the size. At just 5-foot-7, he did not have any NHL prospects out of high school. Instead, he elected to go the college route, committing to St. Cloud State University’s program.

As a Husky, Lizotte started to prove that he was worthy of an NHL contract. On a very strong team, Lizotte stood out as a skilled skater who could put points on the board. In his rookie season, he scored eight goals and 19 assists for 27 points in 37 games played. These stats were strong enough to earn him a spot on the All-NCHC Rookie team, the conference’s Rookie of the Year award, the Huskies’ Rookie of the Year award, and their Most Determined Player award.

Related: Kempe’s Breakout Season Is a Testament to Kings’ Development Strategy

In his sophomore season, Lizotte started to draw the eyes of NHL scouts. He played at a pace of over a point-per-game scoring 14 goals and 28 assists for 42 points in 37 games. At the conclusion of the season, he made the decision to forgo his NCAA eligibility and sign with the Los Angeles Kings.

Lizotte Makes the NHL

Just days after signing his contract entry-level deal, Blake Lizotte’s dream of becoming an NHL player came true. He was tapped to suit up in the Kings’ final game of the 2018-19 season. While he got a taste of his dream, securing a regular roster spot would be an uphill battle.

Entering the 2019-20 season, the Kings were just starting their rebuilding process. This provided a unique opportunity for Lizotte as there was less competition to make the lineup. He managed to make the opening night roster and played 68 games with the Kings, posting six goals and 17 assists for 23 points in the pandemic-shortened season.

Blake Lizotte Los Angeles Kings
Blake Lizotte, Los Angeles Kings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The 2020-21 season was similar to the 2019-20 season and Lizotte was able to easily make the roster out of training camp. Despite this being his least offensively productive season, in which he scored three goals and seven assists for 10 points, he still managed to be an impact player.

At the conclusion of the season, the Kings signed Lizotte to a one-year extension. This was the type of deal that secured depth for the Kings and gave Lizotte the opportunity to prove himself to be a legitimate NHL player on a team that finally looking to be competitive. He did just that, tying his career-high in points with 23, scoring 10 goals and 13 assists. His play was strong enough to earn himself his first legitimate NHL contract, a two-year deal with an average annual value of $1.675 million. As the team gears up for its return to the playoffs, Lizotte has proved to be a valuable player to the Kings and this contract reflects that.

The Perfect Masterton Nominee

On a team that is brimming with young talent, Lizotte has carved out an important role for himself. He was never envisioned as a long-term depth option, but that is what he has become. He continues to beat all the odds and play the game with a high compete level and class. At just 24 years old, he is already emerging as a leader in the locker room. When commenting on the recent nomination, Kings head coach Todd McLellan had nothing but praise for the forward:

“Great choice. That award is about commitment, drive, resilience and Lizzo, he lives that every day here at the rink. He lives like it’s his last day in hockey equipment. Whether it’s a game day, practice day, workout day, he shows up and to find a young man like that, who doesn’t have a long career, but already gets it, is valuable in the room.”

Todd McLellan

Lizotte knows that he may not be an NHL regular forever, so he constantly makes the most out of every opportunity he is given. Standing at just 5’7, he is the third shortest player in the league. Only Nathan Gerbe (5’4) and Rocco Grimaldi (5’6) are shorter. There is one key difference between them and Lizotte: they were both drafted players.

An undersized, undrafted player, who was originally signed as a short-term depth option going on to earn himself a regular lineup spot on a playoff-caliber team is a rare feat. Lizotte has accomplished that. He is the perfect candidate for an award given “to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.” He has persevered against odds, exhibited sportsmanship and leadership, and is dedicated to playing hockey as long as he can.

As the team looks to transition some of their prospect pool into the lineup, these prospects will have to take away Blake Lizotte’s lineup spot. They will not only have to prove that they are more offensively productive, but exhibit the determination and leadership that as the Masterton nominee. While Lizotte may not be a big name in hockey, he is a great role model to the young players, the type of player the Kings are glad to have on their team and is very deserving of this nomination.

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