There’s no template for a Hall of Fame player. Some are great scorers, while others are reliable leaders or defenders. Some have bookshelves full of individual awards, some have multiple championships. Most fit into more than one of those categories.
With the Hockey Hall of Fame inducting the class of 2018 on Monday, we thought it would be fun to explore which active NHLers are locks to get in themselves. That is, if their careers ended today, who has done enough to earn eternal enshrinement in hockey’s greatest hall?
The list is shorter than you’d think.
In all, we settled on 16 players worthy of induction. There are certainly more than 16 active players who will one day get into the Hall, so some honourable mentions are included for players who likely will get in once they’ve played out their full careers.
But this group of 16 has shown enough already to earn recognition. Here they are, in alphabetical order.
Note: The stats below are as of Nov. 8.
Nicklas Backstrom, C, Washington Capitals
Games Played: 829 | Goals: 212 | Assists: 604 | Points: 816
Backstrom is a talented playmaker and has been among the assist leaders every year since he joined the league. His 604 assists are the most by any player since 2007, and his 816 points are fifth. He has five seasons in which he recorded more than 60 assists, a mark matched only by Henrik Sedin and Joe Thornton over the same time period.
Patrice Bergeron, C, Boston Bruins
Games Played: 977 | Goals: 296 | Assists: 458 | Points: 754
Bergeron has been the model two-way centre since he joined the NHL as an 18-year-old in 2003 and he has an impressive 57.1 per cent success rate on faceoffs, which is the fourth-best over the past 15 seasons. He’s won four Selke Trophies as the league’s top defensive forward — tied for the most all-time with Hall of Famer Bob Gainey — and five other times he finished in the top-five in voting for that award. He also has a Stanley Cup and two Olympic gold medals.
Sidney Crosby, C, Pittsburgh Penguins
Games Played: 878 | Goals: 418 | Assists: 713 | Points: 1,131
Crosby is the best centre of his generation and, despite serious injuries, is one of its top scorers too. His absurd 1.29 points per game rate is the best in the post-2004 lockout era. And his trophy case is packed, with three Stanley Cup rings, two Olympic gold medals, two Conn Smythe Trophies, two Hart Trophies, three Ted Lindsay Awards, two Rocket Richard Trophies and two Art Ross Trophies.
Ryan Getzlaf, C, Anaheim Ducks
Games Played: 928 | Goals: 249 | Assists: 636 | Points: 885
A power forward who also has slick hands as an elite playmaker, Getzlaf can do it all. He has three seasons with more than 80 points in his career and ranks sixth in total points since 2005. In the playoffs, he’s been equally dominant, and trails only Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Patrick Kane in post-season points over his career. The Ducks have made the playoffs in 11 of the 13 seasons Getzlaf has played, winning the Cup once in 2007.
Patrick Kane, RW, Chicago Blackhawks
Games Played: 836 | Goals: 323 | Assists: 524 | Points: 847
The best winger not named Alex Ovechkin in the post-lockout era. Kane’s 847 points trail only Ovechkin, Crosby and Evgeni Malkin since he joined the NHL in 2007 and his 1.01 points per game is tied with Ilya Kovalchuk for fifth (among players with at least 100 games played). Kane has been equally impressive in the playoffs with a 0.97 points per game and five playoff overtime winners, including a Stanley Cup clinching goal in 2010. He has also won every major trophy including the Hart, Ted Lindsay, Art Ross, Conn Smythe and Calder Trophies, plus three Stanley Cups.
Anze Kopitar, C, Los Angeles Kings
Games Played: 935 | Goals: 294 | Assists: 540 | Points: 834
The No. 1 centre on two Stanley Cup-winning teams, Kopitar has been one of the top two-way players in the game for most of his career. He’s led the Kings in scoring 10 of his 12 seasons, but has also been a reliable penalty killer, with just under two minutes of shorthanded time per game. His play away from the puck has earned him two Selke Trophies and one Lady Byng. He’s earned votes for the Byng in every season except his rookie year, and has finished with more than 30 penalty minutes in a season just once.
Ilya Kovalchuck, LW, Los Angeles Kings/New Jersey Devils/Atlanta Thrashers
Games Played: 830 | Goals: 422 | Assists: 408 | Points: 830
One of the most prolific goal scorers of his era. Kovalchuk entered the NHL in 2001-02 and since scoring 29 goals as a rookie, he’s only failed to reach 30 in a season once: the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign. He scores goals at a rate of 0.51 per game, a number only surpassed by Steven Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin among players with more than 500 games played in his era. Kovalchuk shared the 2003-04 Art Ross Trophy with Jarome Iginla and Rick Nash, and has finished in the top-10 of NHL scoring in five different seasons.
Evgeni Malkin, C, Pittsburgh Penguins
Games Played: 798 | Goals: 377 | Assists: 573 | Points: 950
Though Crosby is the face of the franchise in Pittsburgh, Malkin is still one of the greatest scorers of his generation. Since he joined the league in 2006, only Crosby and Ovechkin have more goals and points than Malkin. When it comes to points per game, Malkin’s 1.19 is bested only by Crosby and Connor McDavid among players with more than one season played. On top of his three Stanley Cups, Malkin has won every major individual award, including the Conn Smythe, Calder, Ted Lindsay and the Art Ross twice. Malkin also won the Hart Trophy in 2012 and has finished second in voting for that award twice.
Alex Ovechkin, LW, Washington Capitals
Games Played: 1,017 | Goals: 619 | Assists: 521 | Points: 1,140
One of the greatest goal scorers of all-time — and with an outside shot to topple one of Wayne Gretzky’s grand records. At age 33, Ovechkin is already 17th all-time in goals scored and no one has more goals or points than him since he entered the league. Among players with at least 500 games played, Ovechkin’s 0.61 goals per game is fourth best all-time, slightly better than Gretzky and just behind Pavel Bure. He’s never scored less than 32 goals in a season, has scored more than 50 seven times and won the Rocket Richard seven times. Last season Ovechkin won his first Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe, which he can put on a shelf next to his three Hart Trophies, three Ted Lindsay Awards, Art Ross Trophy and Calder Trophy.
Joe Thornton, C, San Jose Sharks/Boston Bruins
Games Played: 1,499 | Goals: 399 |Assists: 1,031 | Points: 1,430
One of the greatest playmakers to ever play the game. Thornton ranks 12th all-time in assists and 16th all-time in total points. In fact, Jaromir Jagr is the only player with more points than Thornton who isn’t in the Hall yet. In 15 of Thornton’s 21 seasons he’s registered at least 60 points. His 125-point campaign in 2005-06 is the most scored in the post-lockout era, and he won the Hart and Art Ross Trophies that year. He had 96 assists that season and followed it up with 92 the year after. Only 15 times has a player had more than 96 assists in a season — and Gretzky accounts for 11 of them.
Honourable Mentions: Claude Giroux, Phil Kessel, Patrick Marleau, Connor McDavid, Eric Staal, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Jonathan Toews.
Zdeno Chara, D, Boston Bruins/Ottawa Senators/New York Islanders
Games Played: 1,437 | Goals: 198 | Assists: 434 | Points: 632
Chara has been a dominant force on the blue line for close to two decades. He led the Boston Bruins to the Stanley Cup in 2011 and has received votes for the Norris Trophy in 11 of his 19 seasons, winning once in 2009 and being named a finalist five other times. Among defencemen, he ranks ninth all-time in games played, 22nd in goals and 33rd in points. And he holds the record for the hardest shot, 108.8 m.p.h., which he set at the 2012 All-Star Game.
Drew Doughty, D, Los Angeles Kings
Games Played: 784 | Goals: 103 | Assists: 329 | Points: 432
Doughty has been one of the best defencemen in the NHL since breaking into the league as an 18-year-old in 2008. At age 20, he was a key member of the Canadian team that won gold at the Vancouver Olympics, and he’s since added another gold and two Stanley Cups to his collection. He’s a talented scorer, too, having reached at least 10 goals in seven of his 11 seasons. Doughty has one Norris Trophy, but has been a finalist three other times. At 26:16 per game, only Ryan Suter has skated more minutes than Doughty over his career.
Erik Karlsson, D, San Jose Sharks/Ottawa Senators
Games Played: 642 | Goals: 126 | Assists: 399 | Points: 525
One of the best offensive defencemen to ever play the game. His 0.818 points per game is ninth all-time among defencemen with at least 200 games played, just behind Phil Housley. Karlsson finished with 82 points in his best season, but he’s crossed the 70-point mark three other times. He’s also won two Norris Trophies, has finished second in Norris voting twice, and led the league in defencemen scoring four times.
Duncan Keith, D, Chicago Blackhawks
Games Played: 1,010 | Goals: 92 | Assists: 458 | Points: 550
The top-defenceman on the premier franchise of the decade, Keith was a stable workhorse on three Stanly Cup wins with the Blackhawks. Keith has two Norris Trophies and has been top-10 in voting for the award five other times. He also won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2015. Keith has averaged 25:11 of ice time per game since breaking into the league in 2005-06, but that number jumps to a staggering 28:11 in the playoffs, which is third all-time since the stat started being tracked in 1997.
Honourable Mentions: Brent Burns, Victor Hedman, Kris Letang, P.K. Subban, Ryan Suter, Shea Weber.
Henrik Lundqvist, G, New York Rangers
Games Played: 817 | Wins: 436 | Save Percentage: .919 | Shutouts: 63
The best European goalie not named Dominik Hasek. Lundqvist is currently eighth all-time in wins — one behind Jacques Plante — and 14th in games played, but leads all European goalies in those categories. His .919 career save percentage is tied for eighth all-time (after at least 300 starts) and he’s tied for third in this stat among European goalies. He’s finished top-10 in wins nine different times, and had a top-10 save percentage seven times. Lundqvist has only one Vezina Trophy, but he finished top-six in voting for the award nine other times.
Roberto Luongo, G, Florida Panthers/Vancouver Canucks/New York Islanders
Games Played: 1,004 | Wins: 472 | Save Percentage: .920 | Shutouts: 76
Few goalies have been consistently on top of their game for as long as Luongo. He’s only the third goalie to play in 1,000 career games and his 472 wins rank fourth all-time. Since Luongo first joined the league in 1999, he’s tied for third in career save percentage at .920 and is tied for the lead with a .929 save percentage at even strength (among goaltenders with at least 300 games). While he’s never won the Vezina Trophy, Luongo has finished in the top four in voting five times. He earned the William Jennings for lowest GAA in 2010-11.
Honourable Mentions: Sergei Bobrovsky, Marc-Andre Fleury, Carey Price, Tuukka Rask, Jonathan Quick.