The Hockey Hall of Fame welcomes its newest class on Monday night in Toronto with a fascinating group: Vancouver Canucks legends Daniel and Henrik Sedin, their former teammate Roberto Luongo, former Ottawa Senators great Daniel Alfredsson, Finnish women’s hockey icon Riikka Sallinen and the late Herb Carnegie, a pioneering Black player.
Who will join them in the class of 2023?
There is one lock in next year’s group of first-year-eligible players. But beyond that, there might be an opportunity to open the doors for some men and women who have been waiting far too long for their hockey immortality.
Here’s our ranking of candidates for next year’s Hockey Hall of Fame class.
1. Henrik Lundqvist, goalie (first year of eligibility)
Hail to the King. Lundqvist is a lock. Whether it’s in 2023 or if he has to wait for some arbitrary reason, he’s getting in. The former New York Rangers goalie — who signed with, but did not play for, the Washington Capitals before retirement — won the Vezina Trophy in 2011-12 and was a finalist for the award five times. He’s sixth in career wins (459), and every retired player in front of him on that list is in the Hall of Fame. That includes Roberto Luongo, who did not win the Vezina during his career.
The Stanley Cup eluded him, as Lundqvist’s Rangers made the Final only once with him in the crease. But he has plenty of other championship hardware, backstopping Sweden to Olympic gold in 2006 and silver in 2014, while also winning IIHF world championship gold and World Cup of Hockey bronze. Expect an impeccably dressed Lundqvist to be giving his induction speech next year.
2. Caroline Ouellette, forward (second year)
We considered Ouellette a lock for the class of 2022 in her first year of eligibility. That she didn’t make the cut speaks more to the selection committee’s inexplicable obsession with having only one woman inductee each year — the last time it allowed the maximum of two was in 2010 with Cammi Granato and Angela James — than her worthiness as a candidate.
The forward is one of only five athletes to win a gold medal in four consecutive Winter Olympics, helping the Canadian women to the top of the podium in 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014, along with Olympic silver in 1998. She won six gold medals in the IIHF women’s world championships. Ouellette had a 2.36 points-per-game average in 97 games with University of Minnesota-Duluth. She also won the 2009 Clarkson Cup with the Montreal Stars, becoming only one of three players to win the Clarkson Cup, Olympic gold and worlds gold. The other two are Hayley Wickenheiser and Jayna Hefford, and she should join them in the Hall next year.
3. Alexander Mogilny, right wing (14th year)
For many, Mogilny’s continued absence from the Hockey Hall of Fame has moved beyond the point of agitation to one of outright resentment. No disrespect intended for Henrik and Daniel Sedin, but the Hall of Fame rubber-stamped two first-year-eligible candidates who don’t rank in the top 150 retired players in points-per-game average, while Mogilny, the 34th-best scorer in that category (1.042), lingers into his 14th year of eligibility.
He’s 55th all time in goals scored (473) and 56th in adjusted goals (480). Among inactive players, he’s 34th in goals-per-game average (0.478). All of that was achieved while he played the majority of his games in the defensive trap era. He’s a Triple Gold Club member, having won the Stanley Cup in 2000 with the New Jersey Devils. As much as the Sedin twins’ magic is a unique part of hockey history, so is Mogilny’s place as the first Soviet defection to the NHL. It’s an absolute joke he remains on this list year after year.
4. Sergei Gonchar, defenseman (sixth year)
Gonchar is 17th in career points among defensemen with 811 in 1,301 NHL games. Everyone ahead of him save for Gary Suter is in the Hall of Fame. That includes Nicklas Lidstrom, with whom Gonchar has the misfortune of sharing an era. The Detroit Red Wings Hall of Famer — considered one of the best defensemen in hockey history — is the only blueliner who amassed more goals (236) and points (985) than Gonchar did (220 goals, 811 points) from 1994-95 to 2014-15, which was the span of the Russian defenseman’s career.
Gonchar won the Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 2009 and finished in the top five in voting for the Norris Trophy four times. He won Olympic silver in Nagano, bronze in Salt Lake City and IIHF worlds silver in 2010. He’s got a case.
5. Meghan Duggan, forward (second year)
We had Jennifer Botterill ahead of Duggan last year, but we’re flip-flopping them for the class of 2023 projection. On the chance the Hall inducts two women in the same class, we don’t believe they’ll both come from Team Canada.
Duggan won seven IIHF world championship gold medals and captained the U.S. women’s Olympic hockey team to gold in the 2018 Pyeongchang Games. She won the 2011 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as the top women’s player in the NCAA while playing for Wisconsin. Off the ice, she played in integral role in the national team’s fight with USA Hockey over inequitable support and conditions in comparison to the men’s team. Her profile is high after becoming director of player development for the New Jersey Devils this year.
6. Rod Brind’Amour, center (10th year)
Guy Carbonneau walked into the Hall of Fame in 2019 and left the door open for Brind’Amour. Carbonneau was the more decorated defensive center, winning the Selke Trophy three times and finishing as a finalist six times, while Brind’Amour won twice in his only two years as a finalist.
But the two aren’t even in the same conversation when it comes to being complete players: Brind’Amour finished with 1,184 points in 1,484 games, while Carbonneau had 663 points in 1,318 games. He captained the Carolina Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup in 2006 and won IIHF worlds gold in 1994. His prowess as a coach has brought more attention to his career as a player. Like Mogilny, there’s been a vocal group of fans and pundits backing Brind’Amour’s Hall of Fame candidacy. Perhaps 2023 is the year.
7. Jennifer Botterill, forward (ninth year)
Botterill helped Team Canada win Olympic gold in 2002, 2006 and 2010 and five IIHF world championships, capturing MVP in that tournament twice. But it was her dominance in the NCAA that sets her apart. Playing with Harvard, she amassed 319 points in 113 games, scoring at least a point in all but one of her college games. She was the first player to win the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award twice as the top player in U.S. women’s college hockey. Botterill also had 155 points in 78 Canadian Women’s Hockey League games.
She’s a player who could be in already and whose profile has only grown because of her work in the Canadian media.
8. Henrik Zetterberg, center (second year)
Zetterberg finished his career with 960 points in 1,082 games, including 337 goals. His greatest individual accomplishment was winning the Conn Smythe in the Red Wings’ 2008 Stanley Cup win. That ring earned him Triple Gold Club status, along with championships in the 2006 Olympics and the 2006 world championships with Sweden.
The problem for Zetterberg is his competition. Brind’Amour was a similar player and unlike Zetterberg won the Selke (twice). Then there’s Pavel Datsyuk, Zetterberg’s Red Wings teammate, who also has a strong case for the Hall.
9. Curtis Joseph, goalie (11th year)
CuJo’s Hall of Fame argument was always one of stats vs. impact. He’s seventh in career wins (454), just five in back of Lundqvist. He’s seventh in career games played (943). But he never won a Vezina Trophy, though he was a finalist three times. He also never won the Stanley Cup, but neither did Luongo nor Lundqvist. He won World Cup of Hockey silver in 1996 and played one game in Canada’s run to the 2002 Olympic gold medal.
There’s been an interesting development in the “stats vs. impact” argument, however: Hockey historian Paul Pidutti has created a statistical measure of a Hall of Fame candidate’s worthiness. According to Pidutti, Joseph is the 17th-greatest goalie in NHL history and sixth best of his era. Keep in mind, however, that the Hockey Hall of Fame hasn’t inducted two goalies in the same class since Harry Lumley and Gump Worsley in 1980.
— Paul Pidutti (@AdjustedHockey) November 11, 2022
10. Keith Tkachuk, forward (ninth year)
Tkachuk amassed 538 goals and 1,065 points in 1,201 games over his 18-season career. He led the league in goals only once (1996-97) but was otherwise a model of consistency. He’s 33rd all time in goals scored. Every player ahead of him who is Hall of Fame-eligible is enshrined. He won World Cup gold in 1996 and Olympic silver in 2002 but never the Stanley Cup.
It’s a solid but unspectacular career, but those numbers are hard to ignore.
Other first-year-eligible former NHLers
One interesting Hall of Fame case for a player in his first year of eligibility: Corey Crawford, who helped the Chicago Blackhawks to Stanley Cup wins in 2013 and 2015. From 2010 to ’17, only Lundqvist and Marc-Andre Fleury had more wins than Crawford (213), who also had a .918 save percentage in that stretch. Although he shared the Jennings Trophy for fewest goals allowed for a team twice, he was never a Vezina Trophy finalist. There are a number of more accomplished goalies ahead of him — he doesn’t crack the top 50 in career wins — but he was an important part of one of that decade’s best teams.
Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester has a strong international case — five gold medals, including 2014 Olympic gold — and a steady, 17-year NHL career that included an iron man streak of 737 games. Fellow blueliners Andrei Markov, Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Seabrook and Mike Green are also in their first years of eligibility. So is forward Justin Williams, whose “Mr. Game 7” reputation was earned while he won three Stanley Cups with the Carolina Hurricanes and Los Angeles Kings.
After Tkachuk, the players with the greatest number of goals who aren’t in the Hall of Fame are Pat Verbeek (522), Pierre Turgeon (515), Jeremy Roenick (513) and Peter Bondra (503). There’s been vocal support for Theo Fleury, who had 1,088 points in 1,084 games. Like Roenick, he fills the “Fame” requirement; also like Roenick, he never won a major individual award. Former New Jersey Devils forward Patrik Elias, scoring winger Steve Larmer and former Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers star Rick Nash also have their backers.
Among the goalies, two-time Vezina winner Tim Thomas, Vezina winner and five-time finalist Tom Barrasso, 1997 Conn Smythe winner Mike Vernon and three-time Stanley Cup winner Chris Osgood are all still in the mix.
For women’s players, USA hockey star Julie Chu, Team Canada forward Meghan Agosta and goalie Shannon Szabados should be considered. Internationally, keep an eye on Swiss goalie Florence Schelling and Swedish goalie Kim Martin.
In the Builders category, innovative goalie coach Francois Allaire, former Michigan coach Red Berenson and Nashville Predators general manager David Poile could all get the call. Then there’s Canadian hockey icon Paul Henderson, still trying to prove that one goal in 1972 could garner a place in the Hall of Fame outside of the memorabilia displays.
Source : Sky.com