The Class of 2017 has been enshrined, which means it’s once again time for the only thing people really care about now as it pertains to the Hockey Hall of Fame: trying to figure out which players will get in next.
Here are some early odds I’ve established for the men (no builders) who will make up the Class of 2018, including one stone-cold lock inductee. The Hall of Fame selection committee will announce its picks in June. This is only an exhibition, not a competition — so please, no wagering.
Martin Brodeur, Goalie (1st year of eligibility)
Brodeur is first in career wins (691), first in career shutouts (125), has four Vezina trophies, five Jennings trophies for fewest goals against in a season and a Calder Trophy for rookie of the year. Oh, and they put a trapezoid behind the net to prevent him from playing the puck like a defenseman, because the dude played the puck like a defenseman. The surest thing of sure things for the Class of 2018, or any year.
Daniel Alfredsson, Right Wing (2nd year)
The wait is over for Alfredsson, probably. The Ottawa Senators (and Detroit Red Wings!) winger has 444 goals (No. 62 all time) and 1,157 points (No. 51 all time). He won the Calder Trophy as top rookie, but the highest he ever finished for the Hart Trophy was fifth in 2005-06, his only 100-point season. Which is to say that consistency was the key during Alfredsson’s 1,246 career games. He also owns Olympic gold and silver, with 27 points in 26 Winter Games appearances for Sweden, though he never won a Stanley Cup. There’s a very compelling argument to be made that Alfredsson belongs in the “great, not immortal” category. But he is one of the all-time good guys in the game, an ambassador for the sport, and the kind of gentleman who’s likely to have earned a place in the good graces of the selection committee. It would be a mild surprise if he’s not in this class.
Three players with their own compelling hooks — Roenick’s fame; Osgood’s playoff mastery; Mogilny’s points per game (1.042) and being the first Russian defection — but they lack the full picture when it comes to individual achievements. Or in Roenick’s case, team achievements.
Brind’Amour, who had 1,184 points in 1,484 games (22nd all time) and two Selke wins as top defensive forward, is being re-examined as an all-time great two-way forward. Fleury’s campaign seems to pick up momentum each year, but the 5-foot-6 winger probably has to wait until St. Louis gets his call or until another mighty mite gets in. Mikhailov benefits from a new appreciation for Soviet-era talent by the Hall, and the former linemate of Valeri Kharlamov and Vladimir Petrov has been lauded recently.
CuJo is fifth in career wins (454) and third in career losses (352). His playoff save percentage actually matches that of Osgood (.916). But despite finishing in the top four in the Vezina voting five times, he never won one, nor did he win a Stanley Cup — something the selection committee has always valued in its goalie picks, with Ed Giacomin being an exception.
Two undeniable stats-based claims for immortality in Tkachuk’s 538 goals, which are 32nd all time and has him surrounded by Hall of Famers, and Turgeon’s 1,327 points, which are also 32nd all time and more than Hall of Famers such as Peter Stastny (1,239) and Dino Ciccarelli (1,200) amassed. Still, one can’t help shake the notion that both players are quintessential “Hall of Very Good” examples, forever used to prove the comparative greatness of others.
40-1 The Field
Some interesting names fall short of our Hall of Fame odds, each with some level of fatal flaw to their candidacies.
Peter Bondra has the goals (503) but lacks the prestige. Dale Hunter has a unique blend of offense, defense and penalty minutes, but the Hall of Fame probably doesn’t want to open that can of injurious worms from the Turgeon hit. Steve Larmer was an ironman and has a numbers case back lacks the sizzle. Ditto for Pat Verbeek, despite being the “Little Ball of Hate.”
Oh, and then there’s Tim Thomas, who absolutely dominated his position for a span of five years and won two Vezinas and a Conn Smythe with the Boston Bruins and who actually has a legitimate case for the Hall of Fame, if longevity isn’t the ultimate measure. But we don’t even know if he has a phone in that bunker. So that could be a problem.
BEST GUESS FOR THE CLASS OF 2018
Brodeur, Alfredsson and one of those four defensemen at 10-to-1, with St. Louis waiting a year.