The 2022 Hockey Hall of Fame induction celebrations begin Friday and last throughout the weekend before culminating in an anticipated induction ceremony Monday.
This year’s class consists of former NHLers Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Roberto Luongo, Daniel Alfredsson, Finnish women’s star Riika Salinen, plus Herb Carnegie in the builder’s category.
The HHOF player category can feature a maximum of four men and two women each year, so with the 2022 class about to be enshrined we thought it fitting to look ahead to 2023 and highlight some notable players eligible to be inducted next year.
THE LONE FIRST-BALLOT LOCK?
Henrik Lundqvist is the closest thing we have to a lock in 2023. “King Henrik” earned a reputation as one of the best and most consistent goaltenders of the NHL’s salary cap era. He won the Vezina Trophy in 2012, finished top-six in Vezina voting in each of his first 10 seasons in the league, and is the only goalie in NHL history to win at least 30 games in each of his first seven seasons. In fact, the only time within his first 12 seasons that Lundqvist didn’t reach 30 wins was the shortened 2012-13 campaign during which he led the league with 24 wins in 43 appearances.
Although his teams never won a Stanley Cup, Lundqvist advanced to three Eastern Conference Finals and did his part in the post-season, posting a career .921 playoff save percentage, 2.30 GAA and 10 shutouts in 130 appearances. Internationally, the 40-year-old Are, Sweden native backstopped his country to Olympic gold in 2006 during his NHL rookie campaign. That gold-winning roster featured Hall of Famers Nicklas Lidstrom, Mats Sundin, Peter Forsberg, plus 2022 inductees the Sedins and Alfredsson. That gold medal is in addition to the silver he added at Sochi 2014 and a world championship gold in 2017.
A heart condition ultimately ended his playing career in 2020. He finished his NHL career with a 459-310-96 record, .918 save percentage, 2.43 goals-against average and 64 shutouts, ranking sixth all-time in regular-season wins, eighth in total saves, ninth in games played and top 20 in shutouts.
OTHER NOTABLE FIRST-YEAR ELIGIBLE PLAYERS
Former Chicago Blackhawks netminder Corey Crawford is a two-time Stanley Cup (2013, 2015) and William M. Jennings Trophy winner. Crawford’s prime years were from 2010 to 2017, during which he registered a .918 save percentage and 2.37 GAA while only Lundqvist and Marc-Andre Fleury posted more regular-season victories during this stretch. Perhaps more importantly is the fact Crawford led all goalies in playoff wins in that eight-year span and both his save percentage and goals-against improved when the games mattered more.
Jay Bouwmeester is one of only 11 Canadians in the Triple Gold Club. He won back-to-back world championships in 2003 and 2004, was a member of Canada’s 2014 Olympic gold-winning roster and won his first and only Stanley Cup with the Blues in 2019. Bouwmeester was also, for a time, the NHL’s active iron man, suiting up for 737 consecutive regular-season games between 2004 and 2014. That 737-game streak is the ninth-longest in NHL history. The smooth-skating Bouwmeester also added World Cup gold medals in 2004 and 2016. His playing career ended following a scary cardiac episode on the St. Louis bench in February of 2020.
Justin Williams doesn’t have the regular-season numbers to gain HHOF consideration, however he’s on this list because he was among the most clutch playoff performers of the 21st century – particularly when a series was on the line. He won his first Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006 then two with the Kings in 2012 and 2014. Williams earned the moniker “Mr. Game 7” because his teams went 8-1 in Game 7s throughout his career. He scored seven goals in Game 7s and has an NHL record 15 points in Game 7s. He was awarded the 2014 Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
A career member of the Canadiens, Andrei Markov spent 16 seasons in Montreal and during his time in the league only four blueliners accumulated more points than the skilled Russian blueliner. He won a gold medal with Russia at the 2008 world championships.
Other first-year eligible defencemen that enjoyed excellent NHL careers: Dustin Byfuglien was a physical force that had success both as a forward and defenceman who finished top-15 in Norris votes in six separate seasons. He won a Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2010 but played his best hockey with the Thrashers and Jets. Brent Seabrook was a three-time Cup winner with the Blackhawks and formed one of the top defensive pairings of the era alongside Duncan Keith who’s likely to one day get inducted into the HHOF. Mike Green, meanwhile, was an elite scorer from the back end early in his career, finishing as Norris runner-up in 2008 and 2009.
IS 2023 FINALLY THEIR YEAR?
Former Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg was also on that 2006 Olympic team with Lundqvist so it would be fitting to see these compatriots inducted together – like how the Sedins and Alfredsson entered the Hall together in 2022. Zetterberg didn’t get voted in during his first year of eligibility although he certainly has a Hall of Fame worthy trophy case. The talented two-way forward is one of only 30 members of hockey’s Triple Gold Club, winning a world championship gold the same year Sweden won the Olympic tournament. He won his first and only Stanley Cup in 2008 and was awarded the Conn Smythe after leading the playoffs with 13 goals and 27 points in 22 games, scoring the eventual game winner in the clinching game, en route to beating the Penguins in the Final. Zetterberg’s 960 NHL points ranks seventh all-time among Swedish players, plus he received Selke and/or Lady Byng votes in all but one season during his career.
Could this finally be the year Alexander Mogilny gets the call? The influential and supremely skilled Russian forward has been eligible since 2009 yet continuously gets snubbed. He’s in the 1,000 point club and fourth all-time in points among Russian players. His 473 goals ties him with Denis Savard for 55th in NHL history but the fact he did it in just 990 games means he’s ranked top 20 all-time in goals per game among those with at least 400. He won a Stanley Cup with the Devils in 2000 and a Lady Byng Trophy with the Maple Leafs in 2003. Mogilny, who wore No. 89 throughout his career after being selected 89th overall in the 1988 NHL Draft, was the first player to defect from the former Soviet Union when he joined the Sabres in 1989 which opened the door for his contemporaries like Sergei Fedorov and Pavel Bure to do the same.
Women’s hockey legends Caroline Ouellette and Meghan Duggan were eligible for the first time in 2022 but missed the cut.
Ouellette won a whopping four Olympic and six world championship gold medals with Team Canada during her two-decade playing career. Hayley Wickenheiser and Jayna Hefford are the only other players to win at least four gold medals at the Olympics. Ouellette added eight Four Nations Cup titles and four Clarkson Cup championships and produced at better than a point-per-game pace in both the world championships and Olympic tournaments.
Duggan won seven world championship gold medals and the 2011 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as the top women’s player in the NCAA. Currently a member of the New Jersey Devils front office, the Danvers, Mass., is a three-time Olympic medallist and her international career was capped off by her captaining the United States to an Olympic gold medal in 2018.
Guy Carbonneau, a three-time Selke and three-time Cup winner, was inducted in 2019 nearly 20 years after he retired. Could Rod Brind’Amour follow a similar path to the Hall? Brind’Amour split the first half of his career between the Blues and Flyers before eventually taking his game to new levels with the Hurricanes in the back nine of his playing days. He captained Carolina to the franchise’s first Cup win in 2006 and won back-to-back Selke Trophies at age 35 and 36, retiring after the 2009-10 campaign. His 1,484 games played is 25th-most in NHL history and both his 452 goals and 1,184 points rank top 60 all-time.
Others still not in HHOF who could receive 2023 consideration: Theo Fleury, Patrick Elias, Pierre Turgeon, Jeremy Roenick, Keith Tkachuk, Mike Vernon, Tom Barrasso, Mike Richter, Rick Nash, John LeClair, Sergei Gonchar