Daniel Alfredsson of the Ottawa Senators, Joffrey Lupul of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens are the finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.
The award is presented annually "to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey."
Alfredsson returned from off-season back surgery for his 16th NHL campaign, helping the surprising Senators make the playoffs.
"It feels really good obviously to come back and play as well as I think I could. After a frustrating year, obviously the doctors did a great job with my surgery," Alfredsson in Ottawa on Tuesday. "I feel like it's getting much better this year, I'm having more fun playing. ... It's been a great year and a great group to be a part of. A lot of fun."
Senators coach Paul MacLean said all three candidates are worthy of the honour.
"Alfie's been a real good player in this league for a long time, he gives a lot to the community and he's been through a lot as a player," MacLean said. "We're proud that he's the captain and a legitimate nominee for the Masterton. That's great."
Pacioretty, meanwhile, returned to action after missing the team's last 15 regular-season games and the playoffs last season after a gruesome injury when he was checked into a stanchion by Boston's Zdeno Chara.
"Its an honor to be nominated for the Masterton trophy.. I want to thank everyone who has supported me along the way," Pacioretty tweeted on Tuesday.
Lupul, whose career was threatened in 2010 by two back surgeries and a blood infection, enjoyed the most productive season of his eight-year NHL career.
He is vacationing in Australia and was unavailable for comment.
The trophy commemorates the late Bill Masterton, a former Minnesota North Stars who died Jan. 15, 1968.