An induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto is probably the greatest honor that can be bestowed upon an individual in the hockey world. Spots in the Hall are reserved for the truly great players (and builders), and being really good just isn’t enough—you have to be great.
Every year up to four male players can be elected into the Hall, and any player who has been dormant for at least three years is eligible. The 2016 class saw a handful of players finally rewarded with a spot in the Hall after years of eligibility. Eric Lindros finally got in, and he’s been eligible since 2010. Russian Sergei Makarov, who won the Calder Trophy as a 31-year-old and was one of the first Russians to make the move to North America, was also inducted (he had been eligible since 2000). Lastly, goalie Rogie Vachon was inducted, and he’s been eligible for 30 years.
While those three players were finally fortunate enough to enter the Hall after such a long wait, there are a whole bunch of others who are still waiting in vain. Today, The Sportster takes a look at 15 current NHL players who are very good at hockey, but so far fall short of a surefire ticket to the Hall of Fame.
All of these entries are debatable, but that’s what makes it so fun. No doubt a few of these guys still have a lot of career left, and if they win a Stanley Cup or a few individual awards before it’s all said and done, things could change. Without further ado, here are the 15 current NHL players who probably won’t end up in the Hall of Fame (but maybe should).
14 Shane Doan
There’s no doubt Shane Doan’s career is nearing its end, and it’s been an impressive ride for the winger from Halkirk, Alberta. He’s played over 1,500 games, all for the franchise that drafted him, and has compiled over 400 goals and 900 points in the process. Nonetheless, though, it’s unlikely that Doan will ever receive the honor of a hall-of-fame induction.
Doan has scored at least 20 goals in a season 13 times, showing unbelievable consistency throughout his 21 year NHL career. He has a chance to end his career where it all started (although the looming trade deadline might have something to say about that), but the lack of playoff success and lack of individual awards (aside from leadership-based awards) will likely keep him out of the Hall-of-Fame.
13 Claude Giroux
Since the 2011-12 season, only two players have registered more points than Claude Giroux, namely Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane. That’s a pretty impressive feat for the Flyers’ captain, but he’ll have to accomplish a heck of a lot more from here on out if he wants a spot in the Hall-of-Fame once his career is over.
Giroux is mired in one of his worst seasons to date, and his Flyers appear to be a postseason longshot. While he enjoyed some playoff success early in his career—reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2010—his squad hasn’t won a series since a spirited win against the Penguins in the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and at 29 years old it’s fair to wonder if perhaps Giroux’s best years are behind him.
12 Marc-Andre Fleury
Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury doesn’t get much respect despite the fact that he’s been a pretty darn good goalie for pretty much his entire career. He’s lived in the shadow in Pennsylvania of a few surefire Hall-of-Famers in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin (those guys do not appear on this list), and as such his success has been largely attributed to them.
All Fleury seems to do is rattle off wins, as he’s recorded seven seasons of 35 wins or more (and one with 34). Only Henrik Lundqvist and Roberto Luongo have recorded more wins since Fleury became a starter in 2005-06, yet while those two goalies are very much in hall-of-fame contention (though not shoo-ins, either), Fleury doesn’t get much love on this front.
11 Patrick Marleau
Patrick Marleau recently became the 45th NHL player to register 500 goals in his career. Marleau is a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and is the Sharks all-time leading scorer, having played for the Bay Area team for the entirety of his career. Even with all that considered, Marleau could be a long shot for the Hall-of-Fame.
While Marleau has always been a good player, he’s never been elite. He recently scored his 20th goal of this season, making it the 14th time he’s reached that plateau in his career, and also signaling that perhaps he still has something left in the tank. Marleau is in the final year of his current deal, and who knows: maybe the Sharks win the Cup this year. That would do wonders for Marleau’s chances of entering the Hall.
10 Zach Parise
American Zach Parise appears on our list here at number 11, and while he’s got a handful of good years left in him, it’s highly unlikely Parise makes the Hall-of-Fame. Sure, he’s consistently been one of the best forwards on his team, no matter where he plays, but his counting stats aren’t elite and he hasn’t won a thing.
Granted, Parise still has nine years left on the behemoth 14-year contract he signed in the 2012 offseason, literally months before the new CBA mandated that players are only permitted to sign seven-year max-term contracts (eight if you drafted the player). You’d have to think the Wild would need a few Cups in that time span to warrant Parise’s Hall-of-Fame inclusion. Perhaps this could be the year?
9 Marian Gaborik
Marian Gaborik will likely become the sixth Slovakian in NHL history to play 1,000 games sometime next season, and he’s just eight goals shy of 400 in his career. There was a stretch of time when Gaborik was one of the most feared goal scorers across the league, yet at this point it’s highly unlikely that he ever gets called to the Hall.
The biggest reason the three-time 40-goal scorer won’t make the Hall of Fame is injuries. Gaborik has been awfully injury prone for his whole career, a problem that has been exacerbated with age. Gaborik has won a Stanley Cup, however, so perhaps if the Kings knock off a few more before he retires and Gaborik plays a key role, he might will punch his ticket to the Hall.
8 Jason Spezza
Jason Spezza probably isn’t considered an elite point producer today, and that’s party due to playing in the shadows of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin in Dallas. There were some years in Ottawa when Spezza would hover around the league leaders, but those days are gone. Today, he's mostly riding shotgun.
Winning, again, is what will likely keep Spezza out of the Hall, as he hasn’t won anything to this point and it’s not looking like a major win is imminent, what with Dallas likely missing the playoffs. He’s also been left off all of the Canadian Olympic teams he’s been eligible for (aside from a “taxi-squad” fill-in in 2006). Without any major awards or wins to his name, put money on Spezza not making the Hall.
7 Pekka Rinne
Goalies are sometimes difficult to evaluate. I still shake my head when I realize that Curtis Joseph, who won 454 games (4th all time), is still not in the Hockey Hall of Fame. I imagine he will eventually be added, like Rogie Vachon was back in October (30 years past his retirement), but it will happen for Cujo sooner than that.
Pekka Rinne is another goalie who has a lot of wins, but nothing much to show for them. He’s taken a step back over the past few years as age is catching up with him, but the Finn has already knocked off 260 wins, and he’s picked up his play of late as the surging Predators challenge for the playoffs. His only ticket to the hall, however, might be a Stanley Cup win coupled with a Conn Smythe Trophy.
6 Brent Seabrook
When you’re a member of a dynasty, you have a better chance of joining the Hockey Hall of Fame. The Blackhawks are perennial contenders and have won three Stanley Cups since 2010, with a handful of players appearing on each of the championship teams. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Duncan Keith are pretty much shoo-ins, while Marian Hossa, in my best estimation, is also going to make it in. Brent Seabrook, on the other hand, will not.
Whereas most guys who appear on this list are here because they haven’t been on good teams, Seabrook suffers from a different issue: his team has been too good, and he’s played second-fiddle to Keith on defense the whole time. Seabrook’s value to the Hawks can’t be understated, but it still has yet to earn him a spot in the Hall.
5 Corey Perry
It was extremely difficult to include Corey Perry on this list, as he’s the only one listed who has won a Hart Trophy in his career. To be crowned the most valuable player league-wide for even just one season almost warrants a seat in the Hall, but if the 31-year-old doesn’t at least add one more Cup to his resume, he might be left out.
Perry has won a Stanley Cup, of course, but he and buddy Ryan Getzlaf (more on him next) were just starting to establish themselves as threats in the league at that time, learning what it takes to win from the likes of Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger and Teemu Selanne. Not that it diminishes the Cup win, but the committee would probably look more fondly at Perry as an option if he wins another as a team leader.
4 Ryan Getzlaf
Although Perry has won the Hart Trophy and Ryan Getzlaf has not, I still put Getzlaf above Perry on this list as I’m slightly more impressed with his body of work to date. Either way, I’d say at this point they’re a package deal for the Hall, meaning if one gets in they both will; my money is on they both don’t.
If Getzlaf puts together a few more elite offensive seasons - like a few more top-10 scoring seasons - then we can re-open the discussion. Or perhaps if Getzlaf (and Perry) help the Ducks get over that final hump and, you know, win another Stanley Cup. That would help too. But the clock is ticking on that for these boys, and with the strong youth movement in the NHL right now, it might be too late already.
3 Phil Kessel
The most meme-able player in history appears on our list at number four. Pittsburgh’s Phil Kessel is a great hockey player, and at times an offensive leader across the league. Even this season, he’s produced 53 points in 54 games, a scoring rate that would put him first on pretty well any other team in the league.
Phil the Thrill will still fall short of the elixir, though. The fact that he moved to Pittsburgh and won a Cup there might not actually help his case much, since it’ll always be viewed as a coattails situation, despite what the numbers tell you (he actually led the team in playoff scoring with 22 points, three more than Conn Smythe winner/captain Sidney Crosby. Not saying he should have won it, by the way, so put the pitchforks away).
2 Eric Staal
Much like Getzlaf and Perry, Eric Staal won his Stanley Cup very early in his career, in just his second season. He did score a career high 100 points that year though, and he added 28 more in the postseason. Nonetheless, that moment remains the pinnacle of Staal’s career so far, and he’ll need to add to that magic if he’s going to be voted into the Hall of Fame.
Staal will play in his 1,000th game before this season is over (barring an injury), which is a testament to how healthy the 32-year-old center has been. He’s also having a great bounce-back year, as his 44 points has already surpassed last season’s total of 39. Playing on a contender, it’s possible Staal adds to his Cup ring count before it’s all said and done, but until then we’ve got to leave him off.
2. Henrik Zetterberg
Another Stanley Cup champion shows up here on our list at number two in the form of Swede Henrik Zetterberg. Zetterberg won with the Wings in 2008, and not only did he lead his team in playoff scoring like Phil the Thrill, but he actually was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. He even helped the club back to the Final in 2009, only to fall short to the same team they beat in ’08, the Penguins.
Nonetheless, the resume Zetterberg has to show off is good, but not quite elite. If he doesn’t make it in - which I suspect he won’t - he will certainly be up there in the conversation as the best player to never make the Hall. The former 7th round pick will soon play his 1,000th game, and he’s already registered nearly 900 points in the regular season.
1 Roberto Luongo
With three more wins, Roberto Luongo will tie Curtis Joseph for fourth all-time. He’s currently the franchise wins leader for two NHL franchises (Canucks and Panthers), and is the owner of two Olympic Gold Medals (one as a starter). Even with all that said, it’s still only 50/50 he gets named to the hall upon the completion of his career.
Luongo will always be tagged as a choke artist thanks to his performance in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, and that might actually hurt his chances to make the Hall more than anything else. That’s not entirely fair, and some people tend to forget he still recorded two shutout victories in that series. Still though, Luongo may not have accomplished enough to warrant a ticket to the Hall.