What newly retired players should make the Hall of Fame?

Photo by Håkan Dahlström, via Wikimedia Commons

Should Peter Forsberg make the Hall of Fame?

This year, we have seen a lot of big name NHL players retire. In four years, they will all be eligible for induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

However, not all of them can make it. Despite a lot of people thinking there are too many good — and not necessarily great — players being inducted into the Hall of Fame, there’s still a lot of talent out there that should be considered.

This year’s retirees so far include Craig Conroy, Peter Forsberg, Adam Foote, Fredrik Modin, Brian Rafalski, Doug Weight, Mark Recchi, Paul Kariya, Todd Marchant, Chris Osgood, Patrick Lalime and Kris Draper.

But how to decide who should make the Hall of Fame? There’s no real criteria used by the voting committee, as most of it is secretive. But there are some indicators about who should make it.

A couple of years ago I wrote a post explaining why Daniel Alfredsson doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame. With a couple of tweaks, I figured most of those criteria could be used to judge whether a newly-retired player deserves to make it.

Those 10 criteria are: Stanley Cups, leadership, better playoff performer than regular season, individual awards, great statistical seasons (ie- 50 goals), considered a top player at their position during their career, overall career statistics, international play and intangibles.

Some of these can’t really be measured. Intangibles, for example. Scott Stevens is the perfect example of this. While he meets the criteria of leadership, Stanley Cups and individual award, Stevens is mostly known for his thundering bodychecks, which gave him a reputation that certainly helped in his bid for the Hall.

Now, a player doesn’t need to have all of these to make it. But, the more they have, the better. The less they have, the worst the chance.

So far, 10 players have officially retired since the end of the regular season. For this post though, I’m going to include two more players who retired during last season who would be eligible for the hall of fame at the same time as the 10 during this summer.

Below are the 12 players, in order that they retired. I’ve bolded the criteria that each player meets.

Craig Conroy – 0% chance

Stanley Cups, leadership, better playoff performer than regular season, individual awards, great statistical seasons, considered a top player at their position during their career, overall career statistics, international play and intangibles.

While a serviceable player, Conroy doesn’t meet any of the criteria on this list, and won’t be making a trip to the Hall of Fame, unless he gets invited to Jarome Iginla’s induction sometime in the future.

Peter Forsberg – 80% chance

Stanley Cups (two), leadership, better playoff performer than regular season, individual awards, great statistical seasons, considered a top player at their position during their career, overall career statistics, international play and intangibles.

Although Forsberg meets seven of the 10 criteria, he falls into the Pavel Bure and Eric Lindros conundrum: Great players who could have made the Hall of Fame if they had played enough games. Unfortunately, Forsberg’s ankles were more brittle than Rick Dipietro.

But there’s no denying his impact on the game. While he never had a monster season, he was a consistent player, netting more than a point-per-game average for every season except for his last. In 2001-2002, he didn’t play a single regular season game, and then somehow managed 27 points in 20 playoff games. What rust?

He was a beast on the world stage, winning Olympic gold three times, and managed to get a World Championship gold in there as well. In 1993, Forsberg somehow managed 31 points in seven games at the World Junior Championships.

He has a Hart trophy, an Art Ross trophy, was featured on a stamp in Sweden for this Olympic shootout goal, and is fourth all-time in points by a Swedish-born player.

But in the end, if you look at his final numbers, it would be tough to let him in. Only 249 goals, 885 points. Lindros has about 100 more goals, and only 20 less points, yet some don’t believe The Big E should be in there.

I think Forsberg will eventually make it to the Hall of Fame, but he’s not a first ballot guy.

Adam Foote – 0% chance

Stanley Cups (two), leadership, better playoff performer than regular season, individual awards, great statistical seasons, considered a top player at their position during their career, overall career statistics, international play and intangibles.

Adam Foote may have two Stanley Cup rings, an Olympic gold medal and a World Championship, but he’s got no chance at the Hall of Fame.

Don’t get me wrong. I liked the guy as a player. A tough defensive defenceman, Foote was a leader on the Colorado Avalanche Cup winning teams. But he doesn’t have the numbers, the awards or the pedigree to make it to the Hall.

Fredrik Modin- 0% chance

Stanley Cup, leadership, better playoff performer than regular season, individual awards, great statistical seasons, considered a top player at their position during their career, overall career statistics, international play and intangibles.

He had a few respectable seasons, won the Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and has an Olympic gold medal along with a World Championship. But he’s not a Hall of Fame player.

Brian Rafalski – 25% chance

Stanley Cups (three), leadership, better playoff performer than regular season, individual awards, great statistical seasons, considered a top player at their position during their career, overall career statistics, international play and intangibles.

Defencemen are probably the hardest to judge of whether or not they should make the Hall of Fame. Unless you’re a Paul Coffey scoring 49 goals a season, a Niklaus Lidstrom winning seven Norris trophies, or a Brian Leetch being the top American defenceman of all time, it’s pretty difficult to make the Hall.

A defenceman’s #1 job is to keep the puck out of their own net. They get usually don’t put up awesome offensive numbers. They don’t get the glory of goaltender wins. They don’t get enough credit for a simple play that stops a rush by another team. So it’s difficult to judge defencemen unless they’re superstars.

Rafalski is helped out by the fact he played for the Red Wings for the last few years, but that won’t be enough. He’s currently 51st all-time for NHL points by a defenceman, behind guys such as Bryan McCabe, Paul Reinhart, Sandis Ozolinsh and Garry Galley, and none of them have a shot of making the Hall.

If Rafalski does make it, look for it to be 15 years down the road, when people look back fondly and remember him as being a better player than he actually was.

Photo by Bridget Samuels, via Wikimedia Commons

Doug Weight won't be making the Hall of Fame.

Doug Weight – 10% chance

Stanley Cup, leadership, better playoff performer than regular season, individual awards, great statistical seasons, considered a top player at their position during their career, overall career statistics, international play and intangibles.

While Doug Weight finished with more than 1,200 games and more than 1,000 points, he doesn’t really belong in the Hall of Fame. He has a very consistent player throughout much of his career, but he never really shone the way many fans may choose to remember.

And although he may have be the fifth highest scoring American in league history, that isn’t enough to get a player into the Hall. He’s right around the Dave Taylor and Bobby Smith mark, but without the goal-scoring prowess they possessed.

Mark Recchi- 100% chance

Stanley Cups (three), leadership, better playoff performer than regular season, individual awards, great statistical seasons, considered a top player at their position during their career, overall career statistics, international play and intangibles.

Should easily be a first ballot hall of famer. He’s pretty much done it all in the NHL.

He’s 12th all-time in points, 19th all-time in goals and 13th all-time in assists. He’s 16th all time in powerplay goals. He’s had a 50-goal season, and three 100-point seasons. His 123 points  in the 1992–1993 season is the Flyers regular season scoring record, pretty remarkable when you think of the great players the Flyers have had over the years (Bobby Clarke, Bill Barber, Eric Lindros, Time Kerr, etc.).

Since his rookie season in 1989, only two players have more points: Jaromir Jagr and Joe Sakic. When you look at all the other players that have played in the last two decacdes, Recchi has not only outscored most of them, but ended up with more Cups than most of them, and he did it with three different teams (the Penguins in the early 90s, Carolina in 2006 and Boston this past season).

He’s won a gold medal in the 1988 World Junior Championships, along with a gold at 1997 World Hockey Championships.

But if you look past the stats, you see a guy whom everyone loved: fans, players, opponents, etc. That’s amazing, especially considering he played on seven different teams, all Eastern conference teams and many of them hated rivals. Many fans learn to hate former players once they leave, but that didn’t happen with Recchi.

Paul Kariya- 50% chance

Stanley Cup, leadership, better playoff performer than regular season, individual awards, great statistical seasons, considered a top player at their position during their career, overall career statistics, international play and intangibles.

He’s a bit of a tricky one. If you allow him in, does that open the door for Rick Middleton and Brian Propp, who have almost identical numbers? Or is Paul Kariya an exception because he may be remembered as a better player than them?

But Kariya’s career seems to be right on that fence.

He won a ton of gold medals (one Olympic, one World Championship and one World Juniors), but no Stanley Cups. He scored a point-per-game pace, but never reached 1,000 in his career. He scored 50 goals in a season, but never made it to 500. He ranks sixth for points by a winger during his career, but never won a major award.

Injuries slowed him down a lot though, and they were some pretty major injuries. A whole season and a half due to a concussion. A vicious cross-check to the head by Gary Suter kept him out of another Olympics and the rest of the season in 1998. He broke his foot blocking a shot in 2000.

Really, it can go any way when it comes to Kariya. There’s arguments for him to be in the Hall, and just as many arguments against. I think he will eventually make it to the Hall of Fame, but it will take a few years.

Todd Marchant- 0% chance

Stanley Cup, leadership, better playoff performer than regular season, individual awards, great statistical seasons, considered a top player at their position during their career, overall career statistics, international play and intangibles.

He’s won a Stanley Cup and has played the most games by anyone drafted in 1993 (although he’s about to be passed by Chris Pronger, Bryan McCabe, Jason Arnott) and that’s about it.

Photo by Dan4th Nicholas, via Wikimedia Commons

Chris Osgood should make it.

Chris Osgood- 80% chance

Stanley Cups (three), leadership, better playoff performer than regular season, individual awards, great statistical seasons, considered a top player at their position during their career, overall career statistics, international play and intangibles.

Osgood will be the Dino Ciccarelli of this generation. It may take a while to get him in the hall, but eventually his numbers will get him there (although he really should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer).

All this talk about the fact Osgood only achieved the 400 wins he did because he played with a good team is kind of BS. No one says Grant Fuhr doesn’t deserve to be in the Hall because he played behind the great Edmonton powerhouse of the 1980s. No one is taking anything away from Martin Brodeur, despite the fact he played behind a trap team that allowed about 18 shots a game for 10 years. No one thinks Billy Smith is only in the Hall because he managed to get on a dynasty in the early 80s.

Would Ken Dryden, widely considered one of the best goalies of all time, have had the success he had if the Boston Bruins had traded him to the California Golden Seals instead of the Montreal Canadiens? Instead Dryden played behind Serge Savard, Larry Robinson, Jacques Laperriere, Guy Lapointe and J.C. Tremblay, and that was just the defence.

So for someone to say a player shouldn’t make the Hall of Fame based on his team is just ludicrous, unless you’ve done it for everyone.

Not only did Osgood put up decent numbers with the Islanders (helping the Islanders get to 42 wins that year, the most for Islanders team since the last time the Isles made it to the Cup finals, way back in 1984) and the Blues, he routinely became better in the playoffs. His goals against average and save percentage were better in the postseason, and by a considerable margin.

Some more reasons on why Osgood will make the Hall of Fame:

  • Is currently 10th all-time in wins by an NHL goaltender
  • Led NHL in GAA in 2008 (regular season 2.09 & playoffs 1.55)
  • Led NHL in Wins in 1996
  • Scored a goal vs. Hartford Whalers, March 6, 1996.
  • 4th all time NHL leader in win percentage (53.9%)
  • 7th best Goals Against Average (career) of all time (2.49)

Patrick Lalime- 0% chance

Stanley Cups, leadership, better playoff performer than regular season, individual awards, great statistical seasons, considered a top player at their position during their career, overall career statistics, international play and intangibles.

Most people look at Patrick Lalime, and think he was a playoff failure, especially because of his time in Ottawa. But the numbers say the opposite.

In 2002, for example, he had a goals against average of 1.39 (second best all-time for any playoff season with at least 10 games played) and a save percentage of .946 (best all-time for a playoff season with at least 10 games played).

For all goalies who has played at least 25 playoff games in a career, Lalime is third all-time in save percentage and third all-time in goals against. Is it his fault that the Sens just couldn’t score come playoff time?

The one intangible for Lalime happened at the start of his career, when he set a record for the longest unbeaten streak to start a career (he went 14-0-2 in 16 games).

That’s still not enough to get him close to the Hall of the Fame though, but it’s worth noting.

Kris Draper- 0% chance

Stanley Cups (four), leadership, better playoff performer than regular season, individual awards, great statistical seasons, considered a top player at their position during their career, overall career statistics, international play and intangibles.

Kris Draper’s name has been coming up a lot when people debate about whether Osgood should be in the Hall of Fame. They say since Osgood won three Cups, and Draper four, then Draper should be in there along with Osgood.

I know, it doesn’t make sense to me either. Not every player from the Oilers dynasty can be in the Hall of Fame. Not every player on the Habs five straight Cups in the lat 1950s can be in the Hall. Not every New York Islander from the early 80 can make it to the Hall of Fame (although they’re trying, right Clark Gillies?).

Draper was a great fourth-liner who player with grit and complimented the team. Nice guy to have on your team, but not Hall of Fame worthy.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “What newly retired players should make the Hall of Fame?

  1. Paul Padova

    No doubt Peter Forsberg belongs in the HOF. I’d make him an easy 100% shoe in. He won the Rookie of the Year Award in 95′, and accumulated the most points in 02′-03′. That same year he won the Hart Trophy. The only reason why he didn’t reach the 1,000 pt mark was because he was injured a lot. He was a monster in the post season (as you said), racking up over 100 assists for 171pts in 151gp. He and Sakic were unstoppable and lead the Avs to their first ever Stanley Cup victory in 96′. I have no doubt in my mind that Detroit traded for Shanahan the following season because they wanted a power forward to help put them over the top once again. They saw what Colorado had and subsequently added a HOF player similar to Forsberg. By the end of 97′ it all worked out for the Wings.

  2. don l

    rafalski over foote….you must be clueless about hockey. Foote was the premier defensive defenceman of his generation. its not all about goals and assists.

    • Agreed it’s not all about goals and assist, but it plays a big part, whether we like with it or not. Foote’s point-per-game would be the lowest of any Hall of Fame defenceman of the last 45 years. The next closest would be Rod Langway, who won a couple of Norris trophies. When was the last time a pure defensive defenceman made it into the hall of fame?

      Foote doesn’t have the reputation, the stats, the pedigree, etc. If guys like Theo Fleury have trouble making the hall, guys like Foote have no chance.

  3. garrett

    Its sad that the #1 All time Playoff point leader for left wingers is not in Hof. Brian Propp has been eligble for 16 years. He scored a 1000 points in 1000 games and was a 5 time all star and Canafa cup 87 champion. Clark gillies and alot othets in hof have worse numbets and they made it. Propp desetves to be in there.injuries prevented him from being even greater even though he scored 40 goals and 90 points plus on avetage for 6 years plus 148 playoff pts. Isnt the playoffs the highest calibre of hockey and hes #1 all time for left wingets. Hof comitee neefs to wake up. All there old timets who have worse numbers ate in thete yet the 1980s playets seemed to get snubbed. What a joke.

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