The Hockey Hall of Fame held its Class of 2016 induction on Monday night. There were cheers. There were tears. There was Gary Bettman, who inspires a little bit of both.
So who can we expect to see next year when the Class of 2017 is honored? Glad you asked.
The following odds were established through previous votes, discussions with those around the hockey world and a feeble attempt at trying to guess what’s on the minds of the Hall of Fame Selection Committee.
Lock it in, bank it, plan the parade, all of it – Selanne is a perfect first-year Hall of Fame candidate. He’s 11th all-time in goals with 684. He’s 15th all-time in points with 1,457. You want a winner? He has a Stanley Cup championship and four Olympic medals, starring for Finland. You want individual glory? He has a Calder – perhaps the greatest rookie season of all-time – a Richard and a Masterton.
But most of all, he puts the FAME in Hall of Fame. Selanne was a show-stopping star and remains a charismatic ambassador for the game. A lock.
Now that the Eric Lindros wait is over, is it time for his former Philadelphia Flyers’ linemate Mark Recchi to join the Hall?
Recchi played 1,652 games from 1989 through 2011. He was a scoring and winning machine, leading the NHL in assists in 1999-00 while being 12th in career point (1,533) and 20th in career goals (577). While the names ahead of his on that points list are hockey deities, Recchi has to settle for being just a really, really good player with all-time great numbers.
It’s going to be hard to keep him out again as a fourth-year eligible candidate. Especially when you know all those Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Boston tourists are ready to throw their money at the city next November to celebrate him. Hey, the HHOF ain’t exactly a non-profit.
If you’ve read this blog, you know that Andreychuk being left out of the Hockey Hall of Fame with 640 goals is a complete sham. It’s a bias against how those goals were scored, and it’s a bias for the kind of idealized “total player” the Hall of Fame envisions in its inductees. Which is hilarious when you consider some of the not-exactly-total-players that have gotten in ahead of him. (I hate using the Clark Gillies argument because I think Clark Gillies belongs in this Hall of Fame as the best at what he did, but yeah, the Clark Gillies Argument is now made.)
Andreychuk should be in the Hall. He played 23 seasons, 1,639 games, sixth most in NHL history. He scored a record 274 power-play goals. Here, let me state that again: He has more power-play goals than Brett Hull and Jaromir Jagr. Put him in the Hall.
Kariya’s name remains pretty high on some lists, and the fact that Pavel Bure and Eric Lindros are in certainly helps his case as a flash of hockey brilliance cut short by injury. He was a point-per-game player through 989 games, much of it during the trap years. He his 50 goals in his second season, and has 402 for his career. He was a memorizing college player and owns Olympic and world junior gold.
Lowe, to me, is the biggest mover on the list from last year. There’s some hefty Edmonton Oilers nostalgia going on these days, and Lowe’s steady defense helped create the backbone of six Stanley Cup championship teams. It’s stunning to think Glenn Anderson is in and Lowe isn’t, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see that remedied in his 16th (!) year of eligibility, giving him that Mark Howe “oh, right, you’re still here!” vote.
He’s not getting in on the first ballot. He may not get in on several ballots. His 444 goals rank No. 60 all-time, and his 1,157 points are No. 51. He has strong international credentials that make up for a lack of Stanley Cup rings, and he won the Calder. We debated his Hall of Fame case here, and it’s a close call. But don’t discount the character test, which he passes with flying colors.
Does Rogie Vachon open the door wider for Chris Osgood?
Osgood compares favorably to Vachon despite playing in different eras. Osgood won 401 games and the Stanley Cup three times, including twice as the starter. Vachon won 355 games and the Cup three times, once as a starter. Osgood had 50 shutouts; Vachon had 51. Osgood is 11th all-time in wins despite being 20th in appearances (744). Vachon is 19th in wins and 16th in appearances (795). Osgood had a 2.49 goals-against average; Vachon had a 2.99 GAA.
Osgood has a postseason GAA of 2.09 and a postseason save percentage of .916. In the regular season, he won two Jennings Trophies and led the NHL in wins in 1995-96, and is 10th all time in that category. Still a chance he gets in on the coattails of those great Detroit Red Wings teams, but it’s rare to see a goalie get in on those coattails. (For the record, I think he gets in.)
Do Bure and Lindros pave the way for Roenick?
He was one of the single most popular players in the NHL during his era, and perhaps of all time. But he never won an individual award in the NHL nor did he win the Stanley Cup. He won Olympic silver with the U.S. in 2002. Statistically, Roenick has 513 career goals (38th overall) and a 0.892 points per game average, placing him right with Hall of Famer Joe Nieuwendyk.
Again, he’s on the cusp. Wins on Fame, falls short on performance. But the Fame facet is considerable.
CuJo is fourth in career wins (454) and second in career losses (352). His numbers are comparable to those of Hall of Famer Ed Belfour, but he lacks his accomplishments. (Mainly a Stanley Cup.) Please keep in mind that the Hall of Fame is in Toronto, and so is Joseph’s legacy. Also keep in mind that another goalie, Martin Brodeur, is on the ballot in 2018.
We’ll move Mogilny up a little on the odds board because Sergei Makarov’s induction shows there’s been a reexamination of Russian players. Mogilny is important for being the first one to defect. His goal total (473) puts him in some impressive company, and his points-per-game (1.042) is actually higher than Selanne’s.
Zubov has some strong champions in the media who see him as an underrated legend who had the misfortune of playing in Nicklas Lidstrom’s shadow. Some of that support is analytic, which is interesting.
Saku Koivu (First Year)
Ray Whitney (First Year)
Legendary players that all have something going for them but don’t have the total package. But we’d cry happy tears if Saku got in, obviously.
Tomas Kaberle (First Year)
Ryan Smyth (First Year)
Tim Thomas (First Year)
Players with numbers that are right on the cusp of being Hall worthy but just can’t match up with their peers. Tim Thomas, for what it’s worth, should probably have better odds but we imagine his candidacy remains a bit toxic given how things ended with Boston. Well, that and he was a product of a darn good defense, too.
Best guess for the Hockey Hall of Fame, Class of 2017? Selanne, Recchi and Lowe.
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