This week we continue to look at the results of the Inductinator, a system designed to predict which current NHL players will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. The system does not only predict whether a player will be inducted into the Hall of Fame (no percentage chances, just a simple yes or no), it also estimates the numbers of years the player will have to wait before being honored. Players are eligible for the Hall after having been retired for three years, so if a player who retired in 2010 is estimated to have a 2-year wait before being inducted, he is expected to be honored in 2015.
Remember that the Inductinator is not intended to determine who should be in the Hall, but rather who will be inducted, based on statistical standards inferred from previous Hall of Fame inductions, looking at modern players only. Last week we looked at defensemen, and we'll finish off with the goaltenders and a summary next time. For each group of players, an Inductinator score of at least 100 means the player is expected to get into the Hall of Fame. The higher the score, the shorter the wait. It should be noted that while 100 is the cutoff for all positions, the three groups (forwards, defensemen, and goalies) don't really use the same scale. A forward with a score of 200 is not necessarily the same thing as a defenseman with the same rating.
Among modern NHL forwards, we have 35 Hall-of-Famers. They are:
Yvan Cournoyer (1982) Lanny McDonald (1992) Bernie Federko (2002)
Phil Esposito (1984) Steve Shutt (1993) Clark Gillies (2002)
Lacques Lemaire (1984) Mario Lemieux (1997) Pat LaFontaine (2003)
Jean Ratelle (1985) Bryan Trottier (1997) Cam Neely (2005)
Bobby Clarke (1987) Michel Goulet (1998) Ron Francis (2007)
Guy Lafleur (1988) Peter Stastny (1998) Mark Messier (2007)
Darryl Sittler (1989) Wayne Gretzky (1999) Glenn Anderson (2008)
Bill Barber (1990) Joe Mullen (2000) Brett Hull (2009)
Gilbert Perreault (1990) Denis Savard (2000) Luc Robitaille (2009)
Mike Bossy (1991) Mike Gartner (2001) Steve Yzerman (2009)
Marcel Dionne (1992) Dale Hawerchuk (2001) Dino Ciccarelli (2010)
Bob Gainey (1992) Jari Kurri (2001)
Like the defensemen, most of these honorees were inducted in their first years of eligibility. However, the percentage of such players is much lower for forwards, as only 20 of the 35 (57%) achieved the feat, compared to 79% for the blueliners. It seems that Hall-of-Fame defensemen are easier to spot than forwards, and this is certainly borne out in the effort it took me to develop the system for forwards.
There are many more factors used to determine a forward's Hall of Fame credentials in the Inductinator. In fact, there are 29 separate factors that go into the calculation of a forward's Hall of Fame score. We won't go into all of them, but we should have a look at the more important ones, to help you pick out who might be a Hall-of-Famer.
As with defensemen, All-Star Team selections are absolutely crucial to a player's chances. Multiple career selections are increasingly valuable, and with four or more selections a player is almost guaranteed of making the Hall. There are exceptions, of course. Rick Martin made four All-Star Teams, but has been eligible for the Hall for 25 years and isn't in. When we look at the near-misses below, we'll see why Martin has been kept out.
Individual awards are another important factor, of course, with multiple wins producing something of a geometric rather than a linear progression in value. Unsurprisingly, the Hart and Pearson awards are very valuable, while the Art Ross by itself isn't worth too much. Surprisingly, the Lady Byng is highly valued by the Inductinator. The Hall of Fame likes skilled hockey players, not brutes.
Career goals are a very important factor, with anything over 300 earning you a few points in the system. You need to get up over 500 to get to the really good points, of course. Pat Verbeek is the only player who has been eligible for more than two years with 500 or more goals not to be in the Hall. He's been eligible for five years, so it's still conceivable that he'll get in, but his general lack of individual awards is holding him back. The Inductinator does not foresee the Hall in his future. Dave Andreychuk (2009), Joe Nieuwendyk (2010), Pierre Turgeon (2010) and Peter Bondra (2010) are all recently-eligible, and the system does see them being elected in the future, although they may have a bit of a wait first.
Having a very long career, winning multiple Stanley Cups (particularly if they're consecutive), and recording 50-goal and 100-point seasons are among the other factors that earn you points in the Inductinator. There does seem to be recognition of single-game accomplishments. For example, the only way to explain Darryl Sittler's quick induction is to give him points for his single-game scoring record of 10 points. Without that, he would be at the bottom end of the Hall-of-Fame list. The same goes for Joe Mullen, who I believe is the only modern player to record consecutive four-goal games and he seems to have been rewarded for that fact. Maybe Gretzky did it as well; the Inductinator already gives him 1,937 points (the only man over a thousand – Mario has 996), and a few more for him won't change anything.
There are basically four classes of forwards who earn 100 points in the system. Those with 250 or more points are almost guaranteed of first-year election to the Hall; the only exceptions among the 15 such players already in the Hall are Mike Bossy and Michel Goulet. Bossy might have been held back a year for his short career, but who knows why Goulet had to wait. At any rate, with 250 or more points, you're assured election, but there's a very small chance you might have to wait a single year. These are the sure-fire, no-doubt Hall-of-Famers. Joe Sakic is in this class. He's eligible in 2012, and should go in that year. The only other current players at this level are Jaromir Jagr, Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya, but we'll have to wait for them to retire first.
Player Eligible Score
Jaromir Jagr ??? 768
Joe Sakic 2012 449
Teemu Selanne ??? 348
Paul Kariya ??? 303
The second class of players are those with 180 to 249 Inductinator points. These players still have a good chance to be honored in their first year of eligibility, but there's about a 30% chance they'll have to wait a year. Players in the Hall at this level include Dale Hawerchuk, Ron Francis, Bob Gainey, Mike Gartner and Jean Ratelle. There are four current players who fall within this range, though only one is currently eligible: John LeClair. He was first eligible last year, but was not elected. He was the best left-winger in the game for a period of time, and the Hall of Fame generally looks favorable upon such players. The system therefore predicts that he will be honored in 2011. Brendan Shanahan will probably join Sakic in the Hall in 2012, but he might have to wait until 2013. Regardless, there's no doubt he'll be in.
Player Eligible Score Expected Year
John LeClair 2010 247 2010 or 2011
Jarome Iginla ??? 242 ???
Brendan Shanahan 2012 229 2012 or 2013
Sergei Fedorov ??? 196 ???
The next group of forwards are those with 140 to 179 points. Gil Perreault, Lacques Lemaire and Steve Shutt fall into this range, which includes legitimate Hall-of-Famers who were never really the best players in the game at their position. As such they have to wait for their call from the Hall, waiting between two and five years for the honor. Among recent retirees, the system places Mats Sundin and Alexander Mogilny in this group. Although Mogilny has been eligible for two years already without induction, the Inductinator doesn't expect him to have made it in yet. He'll have his chance in the next few years.
Player Eligible Score Expected Year
Mats Sundin 2012 160 2014 to 2017
Alexander Mogilny 2009 154 2011 to 2014
Mark Recchi ??? 146 ???
The last, and largest among current players, of the Hall of Fame groups includes forwards with between 100 and 139 points. These are players like Glenn Anderson, Bernie Federko, Clark Gillies and Bill Barber. These players will always engender discussion among fans as to whether they really belong in the Hall. They're just at the borderline between Hall-of-Famers and everyone else. They wait between 3 and 11 years before making the Hall. Especially at the lower end of the scale, it won't surprise me that some of the players the Inductinator sees making the Hall never get in. The difference between a 100-point player and a 99-pointer are not significant, and the line is necessarily arbitrary. At the very least, they should be expected to be closer to the 11-year wait rather than the three-year wait. It's worth noting that even if Alex Ovechkin were to retire today, the Inductinator would see him as a Hall-of-Famer.
Player Eligible Score Expected Year
Mike Modano ??? 135 ???
Alexander Ovechkin ??? 134 ???
Dave Andreychuk 2009 134 2012 to 2020
Keith Tkachuk 2013 127 2016 to 2024
Markus Naslund 2013 124 2016 to 2024
Joe Nieuwendyk 2010 122 2013 to 2021
Joe Thornton ??? 116 ???
Pierre Turgeon 2010 110 2013 to 2021
Adam Oates 2007 109 2010 to 2018
Peter Forsberg 2013 104 2016 to 2024
Jeremy Roenick 2012 102 2015 to 2023
Eric Lindros 2010 100 2013 to 2021
Peter Bondra 2010 100 2013 to 2021
What about our esteemed Mr. Rick Martin, who is not in the Hall despite his four All-Star Team selections? Well, the Inductinator doesn't even see him as the highest-rated player not in the Hall; that's Doug Gilmour, who comes in at 97. Bernie Nicholls, fueled by his single-season greatness, is next at 96. Then there are seven more players before you get to Martin. But why? He had two 50-goal seasons with Buffalo and was named one of the two best two left wingers in the NHL on four separate occasions, including twice being named the best. Well, he never did win the Cup, but that's not enough by itself. Ultimately, it was the knee injury he sustained on November 8, 1980 that kept him out. He finished his career with 685 NHL games. The only modern Hall-of-Famers with anything near that low are Mike Bossy's 752 (but Martin was nowhere near as dominant as Bossy was) and Cam Neely's 726 (a player who had to wait six years even with better credentials than Martin). If the left side of the French Connection was able to play even two or three more full seasons in the NHL, his career numbers would have climbed in to the Hall-of-Fame range.