The Hockey Hall of Fame is set to add some more great players this week when the Class of 2018 is announced on Tuesday.
This year’s class could feature the winningest-goalie of all time, an undrafted player who became a scoring champion, and someone who broke an important barrier in the game of hockey.
Here are five players who could be getting that life-changing call to the Hall of Fame.
Martin Brodeur — Goaltender
Not since Nick Lidstrom in 2015 has a player been more of a lock for the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility than Martin Brodeur is.
The New Jersey Devils and (briefly) St. Louis Blues legend holds practically every regular season record a goalie can hold. On top of that, he won four Vezina Trophies, three Stanley Cups and an Olympic gold.
Some of Brodeur’s many records from his 22 seasons include:
• Most games played by a goalie — 1,266
• Most wins — 691
• Most shutouts — 125
• Most playoff shutouts — 24
• Most goals by a goalie — 2
Brodeur is in the conversation for greatest goaltender of all time. There is no way he doesn’t get into the Hall of Fame this year.
Willie O’Ree — Forward
Willie O’Ree should have been named to the Hall of Fame years ago and now is the time for him to finally get in.
O’Ree became the first black player to play in the NHL when he skated in two games for the Boston Bruins during the 1957-58 season. A career minor-leaguer, he also appeared in 43 games during the 1960-61 season but the stats don’t matter. O’Ree broke an important barrier in hockey and until this day continues to be an advocate for equality and fair play in the game.
“I felt I was just playing for the Boston Bruins,” O’Ree said after his historic NHL debut. “I just happened to be playing and I just happened to be black.”
O’Ree, who is now 82-years-old, works for the NHL as a diversity ambassador in the Hockey is for Everyone program. The Bruins honoured him earlier this year on the 60th anniversary of his NHL debut and the league dedicated a new award, the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award, which was given to Darcy Haugan, the late coach of the Humboldt Broncos, at last week’s NHL awards.
O’Ree’s contributions to hockey on and off the ice can’t be matched by many. And there is no better time than now for him to be forever enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Martin St. Louis. — Forward
A first year eligible player, St. Louis has the hardware and stats to back up a Hall of Fame career. On top of that, by being only five-foot-eight, he opened the door for smaller players that now fill NHL lineups.
Despite never being drafted, St. Louis got into the lineup with the Calgary Flames in 1998 and was a regular with the Tampa Bay Lightning by the 2000-01 season.
Over 17 seasons and 1,134 games he scored 391 goals and 1,033 points. That included winning the Art Ross Trophy in 2004 and 2013 as the NHL’s leading scorer. In the playoffs, his play didn’t dip. He had 42 goals and 90 points in 107 games and won the Stanley Cup in 2004 with the Lightning.
Besides the scoring titles, St. Louis collected plenty of other individual awards over his career. In 2004, he won the Hart Trophy and Lester B. Pearson Award (now the Ted Lindsay Award) as league MVP. And he won three Lady Byng Memorial Trophies for sportsmanship.
After not being drafted and always being told he’s too small, St. Louis has certainly earned a place among hockey’s brightest stars after a thoroughly impressive career.
Daniel Alfredsson — Forward
In his second year eligible, the former Ottawa Senators captain could get the call to the hall in 2018.
Alfredsson holds almost every record a skater can hold in Ottawa Senators team history. But he is also one of the most successful Swedish-born players to ever play in the NHL.
Alfredsson had 444 goals and 1,157 points in 1,246 NHL games. Those goals and points totals put him behind only Mats Sundin among all Swedish players to ever play in the league. His 713 assists rank fourth among Swedish players.
In less tangible numbers, Alfredsson captained the Senators for 13 seasons and led them to the Stanley Cup Final in 2007. He also has an Olympic gold from 2006 and won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie in 1995.
While he never had a Hart Trophy-calibre season, Alfredsson’s consistency and his impact on the Senators are Hall of Fame worthy.
Jeremy Roenick — Forward
Few players play with the energy that Jeremy Roenick did, and regardless of what you think of him, he was an important difference maker in the NHL.
Roenick broke into the NHL full-time in 1989 and immediately showed what type of player he would be. As a rookie he posted 66 points and 54 penalty minutes, two numbers that remained high throughout his career.
Over his 1,363 career games, Roenick scored 513 goals, 1,216 points and a whopping 1,463 penalty minutes. He was involved in everything, which could be why his teams reached the playoffs in 17 of his 20 NHL seasons.
Roenick’s sometimes wild style of play fit perfectly into the generation he played in. That he was one of the best at it should give him a good case to be inducted.