Ramblings: Looking for more potential Hall of Fame players

Michael Clifford

2020-05-12

Last week, I wrote a Ramblings dedicated to guys that are currently active whom we might see in the Hall of Fame someday. They were guys that were not among the mortal locks to get there currently – guys like Crosby, Ovechkin, Karlsson, and the like. I also wanted to avoid the younger guys who'll probably get there in 20 years like McDavid, Matthews, or McAvoy. Rather, it was looking at guys in the next tier of players. We're looking for guys that have holes in their resumés, whether it be individual trophies, even consideration for those trophies, longevity, or any other subjective criteria.

Last week, most of the guys I picked were centres. I wanted to focus on the other positions. Most stats from Hockey Reference. Here we go.

 

Blake Wheeler

Sometimes, it's all about situation. Wheeler finished his career at the University of Minnesota, meaning he didn't get to the NHL until the age of 22. For the next two years, he was largely stuck on Boston's third line (sometimes moving to the second line). That means it wasn't until age-25 that Wheeler became a true first liner when he got traded to then-Atlanta. We have to wonder how many points that cost him.

All the same, we can only judge him for what he's done. For the decade of the 2010's, this is how he fared: fourth among wingers in points, behind Kane, Ovechkin, and Kessel. That's more than Hall, or Voracek, or Perry, or Marchand. Out of the eight guys listed, including Wheeler, there are probably four Hall of Famers listed. Do I hear five?

The lack of individual trophies, or any real consideration for them, is going to be a big issue. He has numerous All-Star nominations, but as for actual trophies, one top-10 finish for the Selke is as good as it gets. Granted, the Hall of Fame committee is not the same as the people who vote on Hart or Selke Trophies, but that lack of hardware is going to hurt. Double that with little playoff/international success, and, well, the picture looks grim.

Again, we have to wonder about his path. What if Wheeler is in the NHL at 19 and a first liner by 21 or 22, rather than in the NHL at 22 and a first liner by 25? I don't think there's much doubt he's been one of the best wingers of the last 10 years, but he hasn't been the best, and w