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Nashville's Steve Sullivan is one of three finalists for the NHL's Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. ((Victor Decolongon/Getty Images) )

The oldest player in the NHL and two guys who came back from major injuries are the finalists for the NHL's Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

Detroit's Chris Chelios, Nashville's Steve Sullivan and Florida's Richard Zednik were named Thursday as the top three candidates for the award, presented every season to the player who "best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey."

All 30 chapters of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association submitted nominations at the end of the regular season, and the top three vote-getters were designated finalists.

The winner will be announced on June 18 during the NHL's awards ceremony in Las Vegas.

Chelios is being recognized for his unbelievable longevity.

At 47, Chelios is the oldest player in the NHL, and although his ice time has diminished over the years, he plays a key leadership role with the Wings.

His 1,644 games played are the most among active players and rank fourth in league history.

Both Sullivan and Zednik have come back from major injuries.

Sullivan missed almost two full seasons after a back injury he suffered in February 2007. He underwent two back surgeries in attempts to repair a fragmented disc and tried several different cures. An intensive workout regimen with a strength and conditioning coach finally helped the injury heal, and Sullivan returned to the Nashville lineup on Jan. 10.

Just over a year ago, Zednik lost five pints of blood and needed life-saving emergency surgery after his neck was sliced with a skate blade.

Zednick returned to the lineup this season, scoring 17 goals and providing experience and leadership to a young Panthers team.

A $2,500 US grant from the PHWA is awarded annually to the Bill Masterton Scholarship Fund, based in Bloomington, Minn., in the name of the Masterton Trophy winner.

With files from The Canadian Press