Active NHL Players Who Are a Lock for the Hockey Hall of Fame
NHL fans have been having this conversation since the Hockey Hall of Fame opened its doors. Active players are building their resumes for enshrinement in real time, and the debate rages around the league.
The Hall of Fame is the realm of the elite. An active player who achieves consideration during his career is a rare thing. Those who are consensus Hall of Fame candidates are even more rare.
Here are 10 active players who are now worthy of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
10. Sidney Crosby, C, Pittsburgh Penguins
Career Highlight: Sidney Crosby scored the Golden Goal for Canada at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. He is the youngest player to register 100 points in a season. Crosby is the first teenager in pro sports history to win a scoring championship. In 2009, he became the youngest captain to lead his team to a Stanley Cup victory.
Why He's A Hall of Famer: Crosby is the best player of his generation. He is 26 years old, and there is no new frontier to conquer. He is a giant in the hockey world, with a decade or more of his story still to come.
9. Pavel Datsyuk, C , Detroit Red Wings
Career Highlight: Pavel Datsyuk's playing style involves all areas of the ice, and his value is reflected in team success. The Detroit Red Wings' two Stanley Cups (2002, 2008) in his time there are career highlights. The Stanley Cup is the highest team award.
Most Impressive Stat: Datsyuk won the Selke Trophy three times in a row. He's the first player to do it since Bob Gainey 40 years ago. The award is given to the forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive aspect of the game. That's an excellent scouting report for the Russian.
Why He's A Hall of Famer: Detroit selected Datsyuk in the sixth round of the 1998 draft. It had no idea he'd be this good, and that's called luck. Datsyuk will make the Hall of Fame because he's an outstanding offensive player and the most brilliant defensive forward of his generation.
8. Zdeno Chara, D, Boston Bruins
Career Highlight: Zdeno Chara enjoyed a dream season in 2008-09. He won the James Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman. In 2011, he was an integral part of the Boston Bruins' first Stanley Cup victory since 1972.
Most Impressive Stat: The big Slovakian has scored 84 power-play goals in his NHL career, ranking him second among active defensemen. It's impressive because most of Chara's value is defensive, but the offensive side of his game is substantial.
Why He's A Hall of Famer: Chara is the tallest man in NHL history, and his ability to play defense is as impressive as his stature. His first impact season was 2001-02, and he remained an elite player through 2011-12. That's an extremely long period at peak levels.
7. Alexander Ovechkin, LW, Washington Capitals
Career Highlight: The NHL's MVP award has been given out three or more times to only eight players. They are Howie Morenz, Eddie Shore, Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, Bobby Clarke, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Alexander Ovechkin.
Most Impressive Stat: Alexander Ovechkin is 28 years old and already ranks inside the top 100 goal scorers of all time. His 411 goals for the Washington Capitals so far ranks him 10th all time for players of his age. That's even more impressive considering most of the names ahead of him played during a higher-scoring era.
Why He's A Hall of Famer: The most difficult thing to do in hockey is score goals. Alexander Ovechkin is the best goal scorer of his generation.
6. Martin St. Louis, RW, Tampa Bay Lightning
Career Highlight: Martin St. Louis had a season to remember in 2003-04. In leading the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Stanley Cup, he acquired several awards and honors. The Hart Trophy, The Art Ross Trophy and the Lester B. Pearson Award all went to St. Louis that year.
Most Impressive Stat: The Tampa Bay Lightning winger led the NHL in scoring at age 37. He is the oldest man in history to manage that feat.
Why He's A Hall of Famer: St. Louis will make the Hall of Fame based on both peak value and career value. His career numbers are outstanding, and his individual accomplishments in 2004 and 2013 represent impact seasons.
5. Joe Thornton, C, San Jose Sharks
Most Impressive Stat: Thornton is the only active player to accumulate more than 90 assists in one season. He's done it twice during his career.
Why He's A Hall of Famer: The San Jose Sharks' most famous player would qualify for the Hall of Fame based on his career value. Thornton is 25th all time in assists and is moving up that list rapidly.
4. Jarome Iginla, RW, Boston Bruins
Career Highlight: Jarome Iginla's career highlights occurred in 2001-02. He enjoyed a tremendous season with the Calgary Flames, won the Art Ross Trophy (scoring champion) and shared the Maurice Richard Trophy (leading scorer). The same year, Iginla played for Canada on the gold-medal team at the Olympics.
Most Impressive Stat: Iginla ranks 28th on the NHL career goal-scoring list and is still scoring at a high rate at age 36. He had more than 30 markers for 11 straight years during the heart of his career.
Why He's A Hall of Famer: The Calgary Flames traded for Iginla before he'd played an NHL game. He delivered consistently over many years, often with subpar teams that offered little support. The one year Calgary got deep into the playoffs (2004), he led the league in playoff goals.
3. Teemu Selanne, RW, Anaheim Ducks
Career Highlight: Teemu Selanne's storied career began with the greatest rookie season in the game's history. His 76 goals remain the record for a first-year NHL player.
Why He's A Hall of Famer: He qualifies in both peak and career value. Selanne scored 150 goals in a three-year span (1996-1999), and his career totals rank him among the best in the game. The greatest compliment is that he surpassed Jari Kurri as the all-time greatest player from Finland.
2. Martin Brodeur, G, New Jersey Devils
Why He's A Hall of Famer: The New Jersey Devils were an also-ran before his arrival. It is impossible to discuss the game's history without talking about Martin Brodeur's place in it. His consistent excellence over a long period at the game's most difficult position makes him an easy choice.
1. Jaromir Jagr, RW, New Jersey Devils
Career Highlight: Jaromir Jagr has two Stanley Cups (1991, 1992) from his time in Pittsburgh and a gold medal from the 1998 Olympics when the Czechs stunned the world.
Why He's A Hall of Famer: Jagr would qualify based on both peak and career value. In a six-year period between 1995 and 2001, he scored 690 points. His career totals are the best of the generation that is about to leave the game. Jaromir Jagr is the greatest European player in the game's history.