The Hockey Hall of Fame will elect a maximum of four male players on Wednesday. Who will be the next Pittsburgh Penguins’ player to make it?
It’s a pretty easy answer: Jarome Iginla. Then again, Iginla’s stint in Pittsburgh was unfulfilling due to the team’s lack of success and strange decision to use a 600 goal scoring right wing on the left wing. Alas, Iginla’s eligible for the Hall for first time this year and widely expected to be an easy entry given his laundry list of accomplishments and achievements. Here’s some other of the top candidates this year, per NHL:
Jarome Iginla. Eligibility: First year.
Marian Hossa. Eligibility: First year.
Patrik Elias. Eligibility: Second year.
Sergei Gonchar. Eligibility: Third year.
Daniel Alfredsson. Eligibility: Fourth year.
Rod Brind’Amour. Eligibility: Eighth year.
Jeremy Roenick. Eligibility: Ninth year.
Curtis Joseph. Eligibility: Ninth year
Pierre Turgeon: Eligibility: Tenth year
Alexander Mogilny. Eligibility: Twelfth year
Theoren Fleury. Eligibility: Twelfth year
There are a few other candidates with Penguin ties. TSN has a good article here.
It’s really difficult for goalies to make the HHOF, and Tom Barrasso remains on the outside looking in,
Tom Barrasso made a big splash when he entered the NHL pool and the ripple effect was felt for years to come. The No. 5 overall draft pick in 1983 was the first goalie to go straight from high school hockey to the NHL. He won the Vezina and Calder Trophies and earned a berth on the first all-star team as an 18-year-old (turning 19 on the second last day of the regular season). Barrasso won the Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 1991 and then again in 1992 when he fashioned a record-tying 11-game winning streak as the Penguins eliminated the New York Rangers, Boston and Chicago. Two other goalies have won 11 straight playoff games: Hall of Famers Eddie Belfour and Patrick Roy. Barrasso was the first American goalie to win 300 games and sits 19th (369) on the all-time list. Barrasso’s impact was felt inside and outside the crease. Barrasso never scored a goal but is one of the best puckhandling goalies ever – witness an all-time goalie record 48 assists. He is third all-time in goalie penalty minutes (437) behind Ron Hextall and Battlin’ Billy Smith.
Hall of Fame stats: Barrasso was a one-time Vezina winner and three-time runner-up. Only four goalies have won or been a Vezina runner-up at least four times since the award has been voted on since 1981-82: Dominik Hasek (6 wins, 0 runners-up), Roy (3 and 2) and Marty Brodeur (4 and 3) are in the HHOF. Barrasso (1 and 3) is not. Barrasso was a one-time first all-star and two-time second all-star. Only five goalies have at least three combined first and second all-star berths since 1979-80. Brodeur (3-4-7), Hasek (6-0-6), Roy (4-2-6) and Belfour (2-1-3) are in the HHOF. Barrasso (1-2-3) is not.
It’s been 15 years for Barrasso, and his notorious prickly personality hasn’t won him any favors either. Will this year be different? Feels like Barrasso is stuck just on the fringe of entry.
Sergei Gonchar is another player on the fringe:
Stanley Cup-winning Sergei Gonchar belongs squarely in the Hall of Fame conversation no matter how you calculate career performance. Measured against his direct defenceman peers over the precise length of his career, only Nicklas Lidstrom accumulated more regular-season points (985 to 811). Measured against his all-time peers, Gonchar ranks 16th. The two players directly in front of him – No. 14 Gary Suter (844) and No. 15 Doug Wilson (827) – are the only ones not already in the Hall. (Red Kelly is also listed ahead of Gonchar, but he split his career between defence and forward.) The hard-shooting, two-time 20-goal scorer ranked in the top 10 in defenceman goals and/or points 12 different seasons – including 2001-02 when he led the league with 26 goals. (Gonchar finished first or second in defenceman goals five straight seasons.) As a point of comparison, 2019 inductee Sergei Zubov ranked in the top 10 a total of 10 different seasons. Gonchar reached the Cup final three times and played a pivotal role in the Penguins’ 2009 victory, including timely power-play contributions. That should not come as a surprise. More than half of Gonchar’s career regular season points came with the man advantage. He ranks 10th all-time among defencemen in power-play points (427).
Hall of Fame stat: The two-time second all-star’s regular season production is even more significant when viewed through the prism of era-adjusted points. His 811 points translate to 896, ninth all-time among defencemen, according to hockeyreference.com. Gonchar is the only one among the top 16 defencemen in era- adjusted points not in the Hall.
Always felt Gonchar’s defense was way under-rated. He was a clear-cut top-pair defensemen for many years, and while he wasn’t Niklas Lidstrom in his own end, he was capable in his own zone without the puck. And then one of the best in his generation moving the puck and playing point on the power play. It would be nice to see Gonchar recognized, but I wouldn’t hold my breath about it.
Marian Hossa is in the conversation too. I expect he will make it at some point, though perhaps not this season on his first ballot, but it wouldn’t be a surprise.
Who do you think will be the next Penguin player in the hall? (Other than Iginla, I guess).