The Hockey Hall of Fame inductions this week have us thinking about the current players in the NHL and their chances at immortality.
For me, there are four stone-cold locks for the Hall of Fame currently playing in the NHL: Jaromir Jagr, Teemu Selanne, Chris Pronger and Martin Brodeur. First ballot, no questions ask, start planning your sojourns to Toronto to celebrate them.
I’d put Joe Thornton on that list, too, as he’s going to end up with over 1,000 assists in his career, which puts him in Joe Sakic territory. But I’ve read a lot of people who think his lack of a Cup should be a factor in his candidacy, to whom I’d ask if they’re familiar with Adam Oates and his recent new piece of hand jewelry from the Hall?
But what about the rest of the veteran players that are inching toward the finish line? Who’s a Hall of Famer, who is on the bubble, and who is out?
Inspired by our Marek Vs. Wyshynski discussion this week, a look at the potential candidates in coming years:
Daniel Alfredsson, Detroit Red Wings
Current Credentials: Fourth in active points with 1,121, fifth in active goals with 429, won the Calder Trophy and Olympic gold with Sweden.
The Bubble Verdict: Hall of Famer. He’s got the numbers, he’s at least played for a Cup (if that’s your standard) and no doubt has the respect of the men who will be guarding the gate at the Hall. Maybe not first ballot, but certainly in.
Jarome Iginla, Boston Bruins
Current Credentials: Fifth in active points with 1,117; third in active goals with 534; owns two gold medals for Canada.
The Bubble Verdict: Hall of Famer. While 500 goals isn’t automatic, Iggy is inching closer to Top 20 all-time in the NHL. He’s seen as an ambassador of the game, and again, at least played for a Stanley Cup.
Ray Whitney, Dallas Stars
Current Credentials: Sixth in active points with 1,040; fifth in active assists with 663; Stanley Cup winner with the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Bubble Verdict: Outside The Hall. Has the numbers, has a Cup, but lacks both an NHL Award and an Olympic appearance. His longevity is impressive, no doubt, but he lacks a certain star quality you expect from an immortal. Could be the next Dave Andreychuk as far as the numbers being there but the impact falling short.
Marian Hossa, Chicago Blackhawks
Current Credentials: Seventh in active points with 949; fourth in active goals with 442; multiple Stanley Cup winner and multiple NHL all-star.
The Bubble Verdict: Hall of Famer. He’s got plenty in the tank left and will crack 500 goals. He’s a star player with multiple Cups and without question one of the most lethal goal-scorers of his era.
Patrick Elias, New Jersey Devils
Current Credentials: Eighth in active points with 937; 10th in active goals with 378; multiple Stanley Cup winner.
The Bubble Verdict: Bubble. There may be some that see Elias’ consistency and professionalism and excuse his numbers, which would have likely been higher in another less-constrictive system. But in the end, I think he falls into that “great, not immortal” category, even if he gets to 1,000 points.
Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning
Current Credentials: Ninth in active points with 928; 13th in active goals with 347; Stanley Cup winner and multiple award winner.
The Bubble Verdict: Bubble. St. Louis has some impressive hardware – the Stanley Cup, the 2003-04 Hart Trophy, two Art Rosses – and one expects he’s going to crack 1,000 points. He’s one of the most dynamic offensive players of the last 15 years, and the way he plays the game – with tenacity, but with a Lady Byng sportsmanship – should earn him respect in the voting room. He’s very, very close as an MVP winner.
Vincent Lecavalier, Philadelphia Flyers
Current Credentials: Tenth in active points with 882; seventh in active goals with 389; Stanley Cup winner and Rocket Richard winner.
The Bubble Verdict: Out Of The Hall. From 2002-2008, a Hall of Fame player. In the years surrounding it, a very good player with star qualities whose offensive output never really matched his pedigree. He’s become a well-rounded veteran in his later years, and one assumes he’ll still crack 1,000 points. But for a guy that seemed on track for 500 goals, one also assumes he’s not getting there, and that was a magic number for his candidacy.
Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks
Current Credentials: Eleventh in active points with 877; sixth in active goals with 412; won Olympic gold.
The Bubble Verdict: Out Of The Hall. His goal scoring numbers are really impressive, and there’s no reason to think he won’t break 500. But Marleau lacks star quality. He also currently lacks a Stanley Cup, and the notion he’s not a clutch postseason player is hard to shake. From a numbers and impact perspective, might be a Peter Bondra for his generation.
Brad Richards , New York Rangers
Current Credentials: Twelfth in active points with 831; ninth in active assists with 569; Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe winner.
The Bubble Verdict: Bubble. This season shows that Richards still has plenty left offensively, so there’s no telling where those numbers will end up on the career rankings. If he plays another seven seasons and gets to 700 assists, he might be a Hall of Famer. Unless the Hall of Fame sees him as Bernie Nicholls.
Shane Doan, Phoenix Coyotes
Current Credentials: Thirteenth in active points with 827; fifteenth in active goals with 339.
The Bubble Verdict: Bubble. Two words: Bernie Federko. Doan’s consistency and commitment as a player is going to be attractive to the Hall of Famer selection committee. The numbers aren’t going to be there; it would be an intangibles thing for Doan. Things could get interesting if he ever won a Cup, but that window is closing.
Ryan Smyth, Edmonton Oilers
Current Credentials: Fourteenth in active points with 823; ninth in goals with 379; Olympic gold.
The Bubble Verdict: Out Of The Hall. The Captain Canada stuff aside, Smyth was one of the NHL’s top forwards for only a three-year stretch. Good but not a great player; but his number will hang in Edmonton, right?
Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks
Current Credentials: Fifteenth in active points with 812; Hart and Art Ross winner; Olympic gold medal winner.
Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks
Current Credentials: Nineteenth in active points with 775; Art Ross winner; Olympic gold medal winner.
The Bubble Verdict: What do you do with the Sedins? I hesitated to put them on the list, because I think they're still very much in their prime. But let's have it out: Can Henrik get in without Daniel? Do they both go in as a package on the same plaque, given their unique relationship? If pressed, I'd say Henrik's in and Daniel's on the bubble, but my druthers is that they both get in on the same plaque.
Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
Current Credentials: Seventeenth in active points with 785; two-time Stanley Cup winner; three-time Selke winner.
The Bubble Verdict: Hall of Famer. He's going to have strong but not spectacular numbers, and some significant hardware. But ask yourself: Can the Hockey Hall of Fame honestly keep out one of the single most talented athletes we've seen in the last 20 years because he doesn't have 1,000 points? He's one of the best two-way players in NHL history. He's in.
Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings
Current Credentials: Twenty-sixth in active points with 692. Stanley Cup winner, Conn Smythe winner, Olympic gold medalist.
The Bubble Verdict: Bubble. He'll have sold offensive numbers, but the case to be made for Zetterberg is in intangibles and being a complete player. I think he falls short of Datsyuk's credentials, and therefore short of the Hall.
Sergei Gonchar, Dallas Stars
Current Credentials: First is active points for defensemen with 777; first in active goal for defensemen with 217; Stanley Cup winner.
The Bubble Verdict: Hall of Famer. He’ll have more points than Borje Salming and Rob Blake by the end of his career, pushing well into the Top 20 of all-time. Never won the Norris, which hurts, but then again Nicklas Lidstrom happened during his era. Don’t forget his international career, which was perhaps even better than his NHL one.
Kimmo Timonen, Philadelphia Flyers
Current Credentials: Third in active defenseman points with 537.
The Bubble Verdict: Out Of The Hall. Deserves mention for his point total and longevity and consistency, but was never a star and was eclipsed by his peers.
Dan Boyle, San Jose Sharks
Current Credentials: Fourth in active points by a defenseman with 531; Stanley Cup and gold medal winner.
The Bubble Verdict: Bubble. One of the best defensemen of his generation and a great rags-to-riches story, too. His points per game is outstanding; but did he make enough of an impact?
Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins
Current Credentials: Sixth in active points by a defenseman with 484; Stanley Cup and Norris Trophy winner.
The Bubble Verdict: Hall of Famer. It’s hard to ignore a 6-foot-9 player regardless of this career accomplishments, of which there have been many. He'll be seen as one of the most dominating players of his generation, and a unique athlete in NHL history.
Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks
Current Credentials: Second in active career victories with 357; Jennings winner; Olympic goal medalist.
The Bubble Verdict: Bubble. He’s going to crack 400 wins, even if he’s had the benefit of the shootout to get there. He’s other career numbers are going to be respectable. But it’s a different world for Hall of Fame goalies, as Curtis Joseph and Mike Vernon are discovering. So he’s on the bubble.
Evgeni Nabokov, New York Islanders
Current Credentials: His 340 wins are third in the NHL for active goalies.
The Bubble Verdict: Out Of The Hall. Again, not his fault he played in an era with other dominant goaltenders but he also never won an award or played for a Cup.