In a time when hockey news and stories were virtually non-existent, last month's inductions into the Hockey Hall of Fame (HHOF) received even more attention than they normally would. That made me ponder: how many future HHOFers might be playing in today's NHL? And when I start thinking about something, you get to vote on it!
Rather than list "no brainer" guys, I tried to focus on players who are either borderline cases or who seem like they have a career trajectory that could ultimately lead to voters finding a place for them in the HHOF. If you don't see a guy on the list, either it's because I thought he's a shoo in, or that he simply didn't measure up to the other 20 guys. I realize there could be a lot of debate on this subject; but let's try to focus on the task at hand, which is using your instincts and predictive hats to decide who among these 20 are HHOF material. Oh, and if you think 20 choices (not even including no brainers) is too many, consider that in 1998-99, no fewer than 45 future HHOFers were active in the NHL! And in seasons that followed, there were almost always at least 30+ lacing up the skates in any given campaign.
Here now, are the 20 voting choices, listed in alphabetical order. A link to the voting poll is at the end of the column.
Nicklas Backstrom – With a sophomore season of 88 points and then a third-year with 101, it looked like Backstrom was on a fast track to superstardom, with an eventual spot in the HHOF all but assured. Since then he's been solid but unspectacular and now sits at below a point per game for his career. Still, he has a Stanley Cup and has been a very consistently top tier player, so perhaps when all is said and done he'll have stats that lead to his enshrinement.
Jamie Benn – Arguably the league's best power forward for a stretch of five seasons, Benn's issue is his numbers outside of those years are far from superb, leaving him well below the point per every game career mark, and likely to fall even further below it as his production seems to have become a victim of the rough and tumble style he played all these years. Still, with an Art Ross Trophy, being named a first-team NHL