The Hockey Hall of Fame will announce its Class of 2017 on Monday, which means Teemu Selanne should make sure his phone battery is sufficiently charged this afternoon.
But who else has a chance to join him in Toronto this November?
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, whose clandestine Stonecutters meetings determine immortality without public scrutiny.
The current odds:
An absolute lock of locks for induction this season, in his first year of eligibility.
He’s 11th all-time in goals with 684. He’s 15th all-time in points with 1,457. His name is on the Stanley Cup. Four Olympic medals have hung around his neck. His Calder Trophy season ranks among the greatest rookie campaigns of all-time, and he also led the League in goals three times.
From an impact perspective, there isn’t a young Finnish player that wasn’t inspired by his NHL and international exploits. From a Fame perspective, he ranks among players like Pavel Bure and Alex Ovechkin as the most must-see talents in the last 25 years. From an off-ice perspective, the words “ambassador of the game” were never better applied. A true Hall of Famer.
The Wrecking Ball 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), many of them scored during the trap years. (Compare that to Dino Ciccarelli, who scored 31 more goals while playing his prime years in the defense-less 1980s.)
There’s this odd notion that Recchi is a “compiler” rather than a player of impact. While it’s true he wasn’t a megastar and that he doesn’t have an individual honor to his name, that read of his career almost seems to ignore his incredible longevity, which is as virtuous as anything with regard to his candidacy.
Kariya gets moved up since our last Hall of Fame predictions simply because there’s an outside chance the Selection Committee decides to get cute and put Selanne and Kariya – a dynamic duo in their careers – in at the same time. Which would be awesome, but the Hall of Fame rarely meets our narrative expectations.
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 mesmerizing college player and owns Olympic and world junior gold. Pavel Bure and Eric Lindros both got in as players whose careers were cut short. Perhaps Kariya is the next.
Lowe and Wilson are both veteran defensemen from the 1980s looking to get the call. Obviously Lowe has a bit of an advantage having played a role on so many Stanley Cup teams, but Wilson might be more of an old boys club darling.
Goring is a new addition here, specifically because the Toronto Sun notes he has the hype:
It’s believed one of the strongest pushes behind the scenes this year was for four-time champion Butch Goring. The veteran centre of 16 seasons as the two-way demon for the Islanders dynasty, Goring took just 102 penalty minutes in 1,107 games, while notching 40 short-handed goals. Like Selanne, Goring won the Calder Trophy, later adding the Conn Smythe and Lady Byng to his collection. He retired in 1985 as the 27th highest scorer in the league, with the 26 ahead of him all eventually getting in. Contributions before his NHL days, such as a Calder Cup win, and afterward in the media, are part of his case.
Interesting indeed. No doubt he’d have support from influential Selection Committee members like Bill Torrey and John Davidson, too.
Meanwhile, we’ll just keep pounding on this drum: No player with 640 career goals should be on the outside of the Hall of Fame looking in just because the Selection Committee thinks they’re garbage goals, or that Andreychuk wasn’t a prototypical player. But the wait continues for a worthy guy.
It’s hard to imagine him being a first-ballot Hall of Famer. His 444 goals rank No. 60 all-time, and his 1,157 points are No. 51. He won the Calder, had international success with Sweden, but his ultimate platform for enshrinement would be his undeniable dedication to the game and his “ambassador of hockey” cred. Total character guy.
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.) With Martin Brodeur looming on the ballot in 2018, the time might be now for Joseph.
There’s some thought that Rogie Vachon’s induction swings the door open for Osgood, who has similar regular season numbers. Osgood has a postseason GAA of 2.09 and a postseason save percentage of .916. It’s entirely possible that he rides on the coattails of other Red Wings already in the Hall, and I’ve always had a notion that he’ll get in. But Vachon waited almost four decades.
Roenick has the “Fame” part on lock, but he never won an individual award in the NHL nor did he win the Stanley Cup. Roenick has 513 career goals (38th overall) and a 0.892 points per game average, placing him right with Hall of Famer Joe Nieuwendyk.
A player on cusp of immortality. It’s really just a matter of how the Selection Committee measures impact, and whether Roenick rubbed any of them the wrong way in the last 30 years.
Fleury and Mikhailov leap into this group, just based on some buzz around hockey about their candidacies.
Fleury is in Year 9 of his eligibility, and finished his career with 455 goals and 633 assists, winning both the Stanley Cup and Olympic gold. Like Bure and Selanne, a must-see talent on the ice. His work as a survivor of abuse has been life-changing for many people.
Mikhailov’s name keeps coming up as a Russian player whose absence in the Hall will be rectified. He had 169 points in the world championships, eight world titles and two Olympic gold medals with the Soviets.
Mogilny is part of this overall reexamination of Russian players too, and he’s 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.
Dallas Stars fans are sick and tired of me saying Zubov isn’t a Hall of Famer. There’s no question I might be increasingly in the minority, as he’s quietly been positioned as one of the best defensemen of his generation who was one Nicklas Lidstrom away from real appreciation of his skills. Some of that support is analytic, which is interesting. I still think he falls short.
Saku Koivu (First Year)
Selanne and Koivu in the same induction year would be amazing, but it’s a long shot. Brind’Amour is one of those players whose case might be stronger in time, with younger members of the committee and a reexamination of what he accomplished.
Tomas Kaberle (First Year)
Ryan Smyth (First Year)
Tim Thomas (First Year)
Ray Whitney (First Year)
The field. We’d love if Pat Verbeek where out of this group and higher up, but that would take a real outlier of a selection year.
Yeah … no.
Best guess for the Hockey Hall of Fame, Class of 2017?
Selanne, Recchi, Lowe and … Kariya. The first two are fairly solid, the third is a veteran hunch and the fourth is a hope and a wish and a prayer.