The Hockey Hall of Fame welcomed a trio of dominant defensemen in 2015 – Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Pronger, and Phil Housley – along with arguably the greatest Russian NHLer of all-time, Sergei Fedorov. (Sorry Ovie, call me when you win a cup or three!)
The 2016 class isn’t going to be as flashy. There aren’t any first-time shoo-ins like Lidstrom and Fedorov. But there is still a strong crop of holdovers, led by Fedorov’s onetime linemate Alexander Mogilny; the erstwhile annointed one, Eric Lindros; undersized sniper Paul Kariya; the always polemical Jeremy Roenick; and the perpetually overlooked – even when he was playing – Mark Recchi.
The absence of Lidstrom-like locks will make next year their best shot for a while; the Hall has a limit of four (male) players per year. Who’s gonna make the cut?
Lindros is the sexiest name on the list. He was supposed to be the next Gretzky (in terms of dominance, not style of play) and briefly was the best player in the league. But his career was hampered by a multitude of injuries, mostly concussions, so his totals aren’t that impressive at the end of the day: 865 points (372 goals) in just 760 games, one Hart Trophy, and no Stanley Cups. That said, he’s still the front-runner.
Recchi is basically the anti-Lindros. He played forever and always produced, but he was never a dominant player. Will his sheer proficiency – 1533 points (577 goals) in 1652 games and three Cups – get him over the 75-percent voting barrier? The odds are finally in his favor.
Roenick doesn’t have any Cups to his name, nor any big wins on the international stage. But he did hit the 500 goal plateau and put up 1216 points in 1363 games. He was also the face of American hockey for a generation. His high profile should help him with voters, even if it’s subconscious.
Kariya and Mogilny have similar cases. Both were roughly point-per-game players, but neither reached the thousand-game mark. Mogilny somewhat separates himself with a slightly higher PPG number and goal total, plus a Cup win in 2000.
I won’t bother discussing the notable first-time nominees (like Jason Arnott, Milan Hejduk, and Vinny Prospal) because, honestly, they’re not getting in, now or later. It pains me to say that, given my undying love for fellow first-year nominee Ziggy Palffy.
2016 Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Odds:
Eric Lindros: 1/2
Marc Recchi: 5/6
Jeremy Roenick: 6/5
Alexander Mogilny: 8/5
Paul Kariya: 2/1
Dave Andreychuk: 4/1
Theoren Fleury: 6/1
Chris Osgood: 8/1
(Photo credit: Jaime4Jesus at en.wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], from Wikimedia Commons.)