Typically the winner of the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is someone who has overcome a major injury, but that’s not the only way you can get nominated for the award. Take Corey Potter, who is the Edmonton chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association’s nominee.
Potter’s story is one of defying the odds. After being selected in the fourth round of the 2003 NHL entry draft, Potter spent four years with Michigan State University before he played in a single minor league game. From there, he spent the next six seasons playing primarily for AHL squads. Over that span, he participated in just nine NHL games and going into the Oilers’ 2011-12 training camp, he was already 27 years old.
At that point, if you haven’t established yourself as a regular in the NHL, you’re probably not going to.
“It has definitely been a long road for me,” Potter said. “At some points you start to question yourself, if you can make it to that next level. You think that maybe you should head overseas or take a different route or start using your education. But I truly believed that I had something to give and that I could make it to that next level. I just never really gave up on it.”
Potter finally got that opportunity when he earned a roster spot on the Edmonton Oilers. Since then, he’s led all Oilers’ defensemen with 20 points in 53 games. He’s also in logging nearly 20 minutes per contest.
Next season Potter will have to prove himself all over again, but he’s prepared for that.
“You can’t get too comfortable,” he said. “You have to try and get better every summer, get bigger and stronger and faster. You can’t let up or lose your competitive edge at all. There’s a lot of people in the AHL waiting and fighting for spots.”
He should know.