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A Case For the Hall Part 10

The tenth set of names for my case for the Hall series.

Rick Nash skates Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images/NHLI

Kirk Muller - Centre - 1984/85-2002/03

Drafted in the first round, second overall, in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft by the New Jersey Devils, Muller debuted during the 1984/85 season. Muller scored 959 points (357G, 602A) in 1349 games, as well as 69 points (33G, 36A) in 127 playoff games, for the New Jersey Devils (1985/86-1990/91), Montreal Canadiens (1991/92-partway through 1994/95), New York Islanders (partway through 1994/95-partway through 1995/96), Toronto Maple Leafs (partway through 1995/96-partway through 1996/97), Florida Panthers (partway through 1996/97-1998/99), and Dallas Stars (1999/00-2002/03).

Muller won the Stanley Cup in 1993 with the Montreal Canadiens. He played in six All-Star Games, representing New Jersey in 1985, 1986, 1988, and 1990 and Montreal in 1992 and 1993, and represented New Jersey on the NHL All-Stars at the Rendez-vous ‘87. Internationally, he represented Canada, winning Bronze at the 1986 World Championships and Silver at the 1985 and 1989 World Championships.

The first half of Muller’s career was a very strong run. From his second season, 1985/86, through the last season before the lockout in 1994, Muller scored at at least a 60-point pace, reaching that mark, and usually getting far more than that, each season from 1986 through 1993. He cracked the 30-goal plateau five times during that stretch and twice had seasons where he specifically had 37 goals and 94 points in 80 games, doing so in 1988 and 1993. He won the Stanley Cup with the Canadiens, and despite his drop in production the following season, he was named Habs captain for the 1994/95 season, being traded midseason for Pierre Turgeon. He would only reach 30 more points once after the 1994 lockout, peaking during this era at 21 goals and 40 points in 1996/97, and bounced from team to team, the Islanders trading him to Toronto in 1996, Toronto trading him to Florida in 1997, signing with Dallas in 1999, and then claimed by, and then traded back to Dallas by, Columbus in 2001, before retiring. His production during the first half of his career does a lot of the heavy lifting for Muller. With some excellent production, stints as captain of two different teams, and his status as the no.1 centre on a Stanley Cup-winning team, as well as the vast majority of the point production that left him only 41 points short of the 1000-point mark, that first half may earn Muller some consideration.

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Joe Murphy - Right Wing - 1986/87-2000/01

Drafted in the first round, first overall, in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft by the Detroit Red Wings, Murphy debuted during the 1986/87 season. Murphy scored 528 points (233G, 295A) in 779 games, as well as 77 points (34G, 43A) in 120 playoff games, for the Detroit Red Wings (1986/87-partway through 1989/90), Edmonton Oilers (partway through 1989/90-1991/92), Chicago Blackhawks (1992/93-1995/96), St. Louis Blues (1996/97-partway through 1997/98), San Jose Sharks (partway through 1997/98-1998/99), Boston Bruins (part of 1999/00), and Washington Capitals (partway through 1999/00-2000/01).

Murphy won the Stanley Cup in 1990 with the Edmonton Oilers. Internationally, he represented Canada, winning Silver at the 1986 World Juniors.

Murphy is another player I put on this arguing for his induction on the basis of him having, at various points in his career, won a Stanley Cup as part of the 80s Oilers dynasty and produced an All-Star worthy season. In Murphy’s case, he had strong seasons of 62 points in 1990/91, 35 goals and 82 points in 1991/92, 17 points in 19 games (a 75-point pace) in 1992/93, 31 goals and 70 points in 1993/94, 40 points in 41 games in 1994/95, and 51 points in 70 games (a 60-point pace). His later career went off the rails, with off-ice issues galore, but his successes in the earlier portion of his career gets him onto this list.

Edmonton Oiler Action Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images

Evgeni Nabokov - Goaltender - 1999/00-2009/10, 2011/12-2014/15

Drafted in the ninth round, 219th overall, in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft by the San Jose Sharks, Nabokov debuted during the 1999/00 season. He posted a 353-227-29-57 record, 0.911 Save%, 2.44 GAA, and 59 shutouts in 697 games, as well as a 42-42 record, 0.908 Save%, 2.43 GAA, and seven shutouts in 86 playoff games, for the San Jose Sharks (1999/00-2009/10), New York Islanders (2011/12-2013/14), and Tampa Bay Lightning (2014/15).

Nabokov won the Calder Trophy as the rookie of the year in 2001. He earned All-Rookie honours in 2001 and First-Team All-Star honours in 2008, and played in two All-Star Games, representing San Jose in 2001 and 2008.

I did say that had the Sharks kept Miikka Kirprusoff instead of Nabokov, they would have won a Stanley Cup in the late 2000s, reasoning that where Nabokov’s numbers faltered in the playoffs with a legitimate contender while Kirprusoff made it to a Stanley Cup Final behind the Calgary Flames and their whopping one other impact player. Of course, that isn’t the only thing that would have needed to change. Perhaps some load management may have saved Nabokov some fatigue in the playoffs, perhaps a slightly more aggressive approach to roster upgrades may have made the difference. As it stands, Nabokov was a solid goaltender during the 2000s, and a major part of why they were contenders. In addition to his personal accomplishments, he backstopped the Sharks to postseason appearances in each season he played with them save for 2003. After spending the 2010/11 season in the KHL, delaying his return to the NHL when the Islanders plucked him off waivers from his signing team the Red Wings, he would backstop the Islanders to their first playoff appearance since 2007 during the lockout-shortened 2012/13 season.

New York Islanders v San Jose Sharks Photo by Don Smith/Getty Images

Mark Napier - Right Wing - 1978/79-1988/89

Drafted in the first round, 10th overall, in the 1977 NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens, Napier debuted during the 1978/79 season. In the WHA, Napier scored 254 points (136G, 118A) in 237 games, as well as two points (0G, 2A) in five playoff games, for the Toronto Toros and Birmingham Bulls (1975/76-1977/78). In the NHL, 541 points (235G, 306A) in 767 games, as well as 42 points (18G, 24A) in 82 playoff games, for the Montreal Canadiens (1978/79-partway through 1983/84), Minnesota North Stars (partway through 1983/84-partway through 1984/85), Edmonton Oilers (partway through 1984/85-partway through 1986/87), and Buffalo Sabres (partway through 1986/87-1988/89).

In the NHL, Napier won the Stanley Cup in 1979 with the Montreal Canadiens and 1985 with the Edmonton Oilers. In the WHA, he won the Lou Kaplan Trophy as Rookie of the Year in 1976. He played in one All-Star Game, representing Birmingham in 1977 and 1978. Internationally, he represented Canada, winning Bronze at the 1982 World Championships.

Napier is yet another near-All-Star on this list who won a Cup with the Oilers in the 80s. In Napier’s case, he had 35 goals and 71 points, 40 goals and 81 points, and 40 goals and 67 points, in the 1980/81, 1981/82, and 1982/83 seasons. He also had 63 points during the 1984/85 season as he was traded from the North Stars to the Oilers. He was traded to Buffalo before the Oilers won their next Cup in 1987 and his production diminished for the next few years before he ended his career playing in all sorts of obscure Euro leagues, but his early career accomplishments put him in the conversation here.

Minnesota North Stars v New Jersey Devils Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Rick Nash - Left Wing - 2002/03-2017/18

Drafted in the first round, first overall, in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets, Nash debuted during the 2002/03 season. Nash scored 805 points (437G, 368A) in 1060 games, as well as 46 points (18G, 28A) in 89 playoff games, for the Columbus Blue Jackets (2002/03-2011/12), New York Rangers (2012/13-partway through 2017/18), and Boston Bruins (part of 2017/18).

Nash won the Maurice Rocket Richard Trophy in 2004 as the league’s leading goal scorer. He earned All-Rookie honours in 2003, and played in six All-Star Games, representing Columbus in 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2011, and the Rangers in 2015. Internationally, he represented Canada, winning Silver at the 2002 World Juniors and 2005 and 2008 World Championships and Gold at the 2007 World Championships and 2010 Vancouver and 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Nash’s career didn’t last that long for a former first-overall pick, retiring in 2018 at age 33, but in his career Nash actually did quite a bit. During his time with the Blue Jackets, he reached the 30 goals all but twice, in his rookie season in 2003, and in 2007. He also scored 40 goals twice during this time, his 41 goals in 2004 tying him with Jarome Iginla and Ilya Kovalchuk for the Rocket Richard Trophy, along with a 40-goal season in 2008. He represented Columbus in the All-Star Game in all but his first and last seasons with them. He also captained the Blue Jackets from the 2008/09 season through 2011/12. He was traded to the Rangers after a disastrous 2011/12 season for Columbus and months of intense speculation. In general, his stint with the Rangers was pretty disappointing, but it wasn’t without its good parts. He scored 21 goals and 42 points during the lockout-shortened 2012/13 season, a 39-goals and 78-point pace in a full 82-game season. In 2013/14, he his 26 goals in 65 games translate to a 33-goal pace, and he helped lead the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Final, where they fell to the Los Angeles Kings. In 2014/15, he had a career-high 42 goals and tied a career-second-best 69 points and helped the Rangers get back to the Conference Finals. He morphed into more of a support player as his offence dried up, and while the Rangers failed to get past the second round again, they made the playoffs twice more. With the Rangers set to miss the playoffs at the start of a four-year drought (their only postseason appearance since 2017 was a three-game sweep in the playoff-but-not-a-playoff 2020 Qualifyer), they shipped him up to Boston and he retired following 2017/18 citing concussion issues. His impressive resume in international play is the big difference between this non-Cup-winner being in the conversation and not.

Rick Nash Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images

Markus Naslund - Left Wing - 1993/94-2008/09

Drafted in the first round, 16th overall, in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins, Naslund debuted during the 1993/94 season. Naslund scored 869 points (395G, 474A) in 1117 games, as well as 36 points (14G, 22A) in 52 playoff games, playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins (1993/94-partway through 1995/96), Vancouver Canucks (partway through 1995/96-2007/08), and New York Rangers (2008/09).

Naslund won the Ted Lindsay Award as the most outstanding player judged by the players in 2003. He earned First-Team All-Star honours in 2002, 2003, and 2004, and played in five All-Star Games, representing Vancouver in 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004. Internationally, he represented Sweden, winning Bronze at the 1999 and 2002 World Championships, and Silver at the 1992 and 1993 World Juniors and the 1993 World Championships.

Naslund was involved in one of the most lopsided trades of the modern era, being traded by the Penguins for Alek Stojanov, who, to put it delicately, sucked. To my eyes, the trade makes even less sense than a simple retelling implies. To hear about the trade secondhand makes it seem like an easily-made miscalculation. But looking at the careers of the players at that point makes the deal look even more boneheaded on the Pens’ part. At the time of the trade, Naslund had 19 goals and 52 points in 66 games versus Stojanov’s one assist in 58 games. Naslund took a few years to adjust to Vancouver, but scored and played a lot more than Stojanov. During the early 2000s, Naslund played on the wing of one of the most iconic lines of the era, the West Coast Express. He and Todd Bertuzzi were centered by Brendan Morrison. Unlike those two, Naslund was a consistent performer for a long time, reaching the 60-point mark each season from 1999 through 2007. Naslund topped the 40-goal mark three times in the early 2000s and was the only member of the West Coast Expess to hit the 100-point mark. 2004 was the beginning of the end for the whole line. All three members reached the 60-point mark, but Naslund was the only one in 2004 to hit 30 goals or 80 (or for that matter 70) points. Naslund unwittingly played a part in the Steve Moore incident, as it was retaliation for Moore’s hit on Naslund during a February that ultimately motivated Todd Bertuzzi’s disastrous cheap shot on Moore in March. Naslund came out of the ordeal unscathed, and even wound up being picked as the cover athlete for EA Sports’ NHL 2005, this time for the primary North American release rather than his initial spot on the Swedsh-only cover for 2000. Following the lockout, the focus in Vancouver shifted from the West Coast Express to Naslund’s countrymen the Sedin twins. Naslund reached the 60-point mark twice more in his career after the lockout, with a 32-goal 79-point season in 2006, though he failed to crack 30 goals after 2006 and 60 points after 2007. He left Vancouver in 2008, spending one more season with the Rangers before leaving the NHL, spending a season with MODO, and retiring. His 756 points led the Canucks franchise in points at the time of his retirement, though both the Sedin twins would go on eventually eclipse his total during the lockout-shortened 2012/13 season. They both have eclipsed the 1000-point mark where Naslund didn’t. Still, Naslund was one of the best Swedish players to ever play the game despite not winning a Cup certainly deserves consideration.

NHL SuperSkills X

Mats Naslund - Left Wing - 1982/83-1989/90, 1994/95

Drafted in the second round, 37th overall, in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens, Naslund debuted during the 1982/83 season. Naslund scored 634 points (251G, 383A), as well as 92 points (35G, 57A) in 102 playoff games, for the Montreal Canadiens (1982/83-1989/90), and Boston Bruins (1994/95).

Naslund won the Stanley Cup in 1986 with the Montreal Canadiens. He won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy as the league’s most gentlemanly player in 1988. He earned All-Rookie honours in 1983 and Second-Team All-Star honours in 1986, and played in three All-Star Games, representing Montreal in 1984, 1986, and 1988. Internationally, he represented Sweden, winning Bronze at the 1979 World Championships and 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, Silver at the 1981 World Championships, and Gold at the 1991 World Championships and the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics.

First off, let’s get it out of the way that, despite both being Swedish stars who scored a lot of goals, Mats Naslund is not related to Markus Naslund. This Naslund’s career was short, similar to countryman Hakan Loob of the contemporary Flames, but he was similarly productive. He scored at least 70 points in all but the last of his eight seasons with the Canadiens, scoring 20 in all of them, and 30 in the three of them including two 40-goal seasons. He also scored 110 points in 1986 and 80 in 1987, leading the Habs both times, as well as with his 84 points in 1989. After scoring only 41 points in 1989/90, he returned to Sweden and seemed to be out of the NHL forever, but unlike Loob, he returned to play for the Bruins for the lockout-shortened 1994/95 season. His 612 in 617 games for the Canadiens are good for 12th all-time in franchise history. With his Gold Medals at the 1991 Worlds and 1994 Olympics, Naslund, along with Loob and defenceman Tomas Jonsson, were the first members of the Triple Gold Club.

Montreal Canadiens v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images

Eric Nesterenko - Right Winger - 1951/52-1971/72

Signed as an undrafted free agent by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Nesterenko debuted with the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 1951/52 season. In the NHL, he scored 574 points (250G, 324A) in 1219 games, as well as 37 points (13G, 24A) in 124 playoff games, for the Toronto Maple Leafs (1951/52-1955/56) and Chicago Blackhawks (1956/57-1971/72). In the WHA, he scored seven points (2G, 5A) in 29 games for the Chicago Cougars.

Nesterenko won the Stanley Cup in 1961 with the Chicago Blackhawks. He played in two All-Star Games, representing Chicago in 1961 and 1965.

Nesterenko is the last player listed on the website under the top 500 NHL non-inductees, a major inspiration for this whole project. With his low-scoring career, under a half a point per game, only one season with 20 goals and only one with 40 points, I felt I wouldn’t bother including him, but figured after some thought it would be worth including him. He played 20 NHL seasons, not counting the single NHL game he played in 1951/52, and his 1219 games is certainly a strong indication of longevity. He is a Cup winner, and was credited in his time as both one of the league’s better defensive forwards and penalty killers, according to the NHL site. According to Wikipedia, Chicago Tribune writer Bob Markus said he’d be the best player of all time if hockey was played without the puck.

1970 Semi-Finals - Game 3: Chicago Blackhawks v Boston Bruins Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images

Bob Nevin - Centre - 1957/58-1958/59, 1960/61-1975/76

Signed as an undrafted free agent by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Nevin debuted during the 1957/58 season. In the NHL, Nevin scored 726 points (307G, 419A) in 1128 games, as well as 34 points (16G, 18A) in 84 playoff games, for the Toronto Maple Leafs (1957/58-1958/59, 1960/61-partway through 1963/64), New York Rangers (partway through 1963/64-1970/71), Minnesota North Stars (1971/72-1972/73), and Los Angeles Kings (1973/74-1975/76). In the WHA, Nevin scored five points (3G, 2A) in 13 games for the Edmonton Oilers (1976/77).

Nevin won the Stanley Cup in 1962 and 1963 with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He played in four All-Star Games, representing Toronto in 1962 and 1963, and the Rangers in 1967 and 1969.

Nevin was lucky to play for the Leafs when he did. He won two Cups with them before joining the Rangers right in the thick of their 53-season Cup drought, and would play later in his career for expansion teams. Nevin was a solid performer, but not quite high-end, during an era directly preceding the NHL’s peak offensive decades. Many of his best years came with the Rangers, who he captained from 1965 to 1971, and with whom he had his first 60-point (62 points) in 1966, and his first 30-goal season (31 goals) in 1969. After getting the bulk of his career achievements out of the way, he had a brief stint in Minnesota, but shined in the late stage of his career with the Kings, tying or achieving career-highs of 31 goals and 72 points to lead the pre-Marcel Dionne Kings in scoring, followed by a respectable 55-point swan song. He retired following an abbreviated stint in the WHA.

Los Angeles Kings v Boston Bruins Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

Bernie Nicholls - Centre - 1981/82-1998/99

Drafted in the fourth round, 73rd overall, in the 1980 NHL Entry Draft by the Los Angeles Kings, Nicholls debuted during the 1981/82 season. Nicholls scored 1209 points (475G, 734A) in 1127 games, as well as 114 points (42G, 72A) in 118 playoff games, playing for the Los Angeles Kings (1981/82-partway through 1989/90), New York Rangers (partway through 1989/90-partway through 1991/92), Edmonton Oilers (partway through 1991/92-partway through 1992/93), New Jersey Devils (partway through 1992/93-1993/94), Chicago Blackhawks (1994/95-1995/96), and San Jose Sharks (1996/97-1998/99).

Nicholls played in three All-Star Games, representing Los Angeles in 1984, 1989, and 1990. Internationally, he represented Canada, winning Silver at the 1985 World Championships.

The first thing that may come to mind for Nicholls to most fans would probably be his 1988/89 season. Understandable, it was an incredible season. He played with Wayne Gretzky and his 70 goals and 150 points that year were far and away his greatest numbers ever. But Nicholls is one of a select few who have more than 1000 points on their careers, and that’s thanks to a career-long high standard of production. He scored 14 goals and 32 points in 22 games, a 51-goal and 116-point pace, as a rookie, and after scoring 28 goals and 50 points the following year, he had seven straight 30+plus goal and 70+point seasons. He had 41 goals and 95 points in 1984, 46 goals and 100 points in 1985, 36 goals and 97 points in 1986, 33 goals and 81 points in 1987, 32 goals and 78 points in 1988, the aforementioned 70 goals and 150 points in 1989, and 39 goals and 112 points in 1990 as the Kings traded him to the Rangers. He also had seasons of 73 points in 71 games in 1991, 49 points in 50 games in 1992, 60 points in 69 games in 1993, 46 points in 61 games in 1994, 51 points in 48 games in 1995, and even 60 points in 59 games as late as 1996. Pretty much everywhere he played he produced a lot, but was sadly unable to win an elusive Stanley Cup, but he was temporally close. He left Los Angeles only a few years before their Cup Final against Montreal, his stint with the Rangers began and ended only a few years before they won the Cup against Vancouver, he joined the Oilers in the early aftermath of their dynasty years, had a brief stint in New Jersey that ended the year before their Cup against Detroit, and his stint with Chicago came only a few years after their Cup Final against Pittsburgh. Nicholls would have won the Cup had been with the Rangers in 1994 or New Jersey in 1995 of course, but perhaps the Kings win a Cup in 1993 if they keep him around longer or the Blackhawks win in 1992 if Nicholls is sent there sooner.

Los Angeles Kings v Toronto Maple leafs Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images

Kent Nilsson - Centre - 1979/80-1986/87, 1994/95

Drafted in the second round, 11th overall, in the 1976 WHA Entry Draft by the Toronto Toros before signing with the Winnipeg Jets and in the fourth round, 64th overall, in the 1976 NHL Entry Draft by the Atlanta Flames, Nilsson debuted in the WHA in the 1977/78 season and in the NHL in the 1979/80 season. In the WHA, Nilsson scored 214 points (81G, 133A) in 158 games, as well as 24 points (5G, 19A) in 19 playoff games, for the Winnipeg Jets (1977/78-1978/79). In the NHL, Nilsson scored 686 points (264G, 422A) in 553 games, as well as 52 points (11G, 41A) in 59 playoff games, for the Atlanta Flames and Calgary Flames (1979/80-1984/85), Minnesota North Stars (1985/86-partway through 1986/87), and Edmonton Oilers (part of 1986/87, 1994/95).

In the NHL, Nilsson won the Stanley Cup in 1987 with the Edmonton Oilers. He played in two All-Star Games, representing Atlanta and Calgary in 1980 and 1981. In the WHA, he won the AVCO World Trophy in 1978 and 1979 with the Winnipeg Jets. He won the Lou Kaplan Trophy as the league’s rookie of the year in 1978 and the Paul Deneau Trophy as its most gentlemanly player in 1979. Internationally, he represented Sweden, winning Bronze at the 1975 and 1980 World Juniors, Second Place at the 1984 Canada Cup, and Silver at the 1990 World Championships.

Nilsson may be a little forgotten and obscure for someone of his accomplishments. When talking about the WHA in general and the Winnipeg Jets specifically, a lot of talk is about how the short-lived rival league helped to normalize the inclusion of European players in the North American game, but a lot of this talk is centered around Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson, who played with Bobby Hull on the famous “Hot Line.” And yet, Nilsson was there with the Jets during the final two seasons of the WHA. When talking about the NHL in the late 20th Century, especially the 1980s, the conversation is about the most skill-focused period in hockey history, when some of the greatest to ever play hockey. Again, Nilsson isn’t quite as well remembered, despite no less an authoritative witness than Wayne Gretzky saying he was the most skilled player he’d seen. Like other early Swedish NHL stars like Hakan Loob and Mats Naslund, Nilsson’s NHL career was a bit short, but like those other two, it was very productive. He scored 562 points in 425 games as a member of the Flames, scoring at least 40 goals four times, the other four seasons being 39 goals, a season of 26 goals in 41 games, 31 goals, and 37 goals. In that stretch, he also reached 100 points four times, the exceptions being a 93-point season, 55 points in 41 games, 80 points, and 99 points. Nilsson was on the move before the Flames’ first legitimate Cup run, and perhaps the Flames would have won the Cup in 1986 had Nilsson been there, but he 60 points in 61 games with Minnesota that year, and followed that up with 63 points in 61 games as he was traded from Minnesota to Edmonton, winning the Cup alongside Gretzky. He returned to Sweden, but like Naslund, Nilsson surprisingly returned to the NHL in 1995, scoring his final NHL goal and point in six games. Shorter NHL careers are, naturally, less likely get a player inducted into the Hall, but Nilsson absolutely deserves consideration.

Kent Nilsson Of The Calgary Flames Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images

Ulf Nilsson - Centre - 1978/79-1980/81, 1982/83

Signed as an undrafted free agent in the WHA in 1974 by the Winnipeg Jets and in the NHL in 1978 by the New York Rangers, Nilsson debuted in the WHA during the 1974/75 season and in the NHL during the 1978/79 season. In the WHA, Nilsson scored 484 points (140G, 344A) in 300 games, as well as 67 points (14G, 53A) in 42 playoff games, for the Winnipeg Jets (1974/75-1977/78). In the NHL, Nilsson scored 169 points (57G, 112A) in 170 games, as well as 22 points (8G, 14A) in 25 playoff games, playing for the New York Rangers (1978/79-1980/81, 1982/83).

In the WHA, Nilsson won the AVCO World Trophy with the Winnipeg Jets in 1976 and 1978. He was named WHA Playoff MVP in 1976. He earned Second-Team All-Star honours in 1977 and First-Team All-Star honours in 1976 and 1978, and played in All-Star Games, representing Winnipeg in 1975, 1976, 1977, and 1978. In the NHL, he represented the Rangers on the NHl All-Stars in the 1979 Challenge Cup. Internationally, Nilsson represented Sweden, winning Bronze at the 1974 World Championships and Silver at the 1973 World Championships.

Speaking of the Hot Line, we have the other member. Nilsson is best-remembered for his stint in the WHA, and his production with Anders Hedberg and Bobby Hull helped garner Europeans greater acceptance in the North American game. An MVP winner in the WHA, Nilsson’s NHL career by contrast was marred by injuries. He never played 60 games in a season, but 66 points in 59 games, 58 points in 50 games, and 39 points in 51 games, for 80-game paces of 89, 93, and 61 points. He broke his leg after getting his skate blade caught in a rut while getting hit by the Islanders’ Denis Potvin, which is why they can’t play “Let’s Go Band” at Madison Square Garden without fans chanting “Potvin sucks!” He suffered a leg injury during the 1981 Canada Cup that resulted in him missing all of the 1981/82 season and being limited to six points in 10 games during 1982/83 before retiring with one fewer point than he has games played.

New York Rangers Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Owen Nolan - Right Wing - 1990/91-2003/04, 2006/07-2009/10

Drafted in the first round, first overall, in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft by the Quebec Nordiques, Nolan debuted during the 1990/91 season. Nolan scored 885 points (422G, 463A) in 1200 games, as well as 39 points (21G, 18A) in 65 playoff games, for the Quebec Nordiques and Colorado Avalanche (1990/91-partway through 1995/96), San Jose Sharks (partway through 1995/96-partway through 2002/03), Toronto Maple Leafs (partway through 2002/03-2003/04), Phoenix Coyotes (2006/07), Calgary Flames (2007/08), and Minnesota Wild (2008/09-2009/10).

Nolan played in five All-Star Games, representing Quebec in 1992 and San Jose in 1996, 1997, 2000, and 2002. Internationally, he represented Canada, winning Gold at the 1997 World Championships and the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

Thanks to an atrocious run of hockey in the late 1980s, the Quebec Nordiques wound up with three consecutive first-overall draft picks. The first and last of these, Mats Sundin and Eric Lindros, have both been inducted into the Hall of Fame, with the middle one of these, Nolan, being the odd one out. Nolan was a force early on for the Nordiques, finishing the 1991/92 and 1992/93 seasons with 42 goals and 73 points and 36 goals and 77 points, respectively. After missing most of 1993/94 with injuries, he came back in 1994/95 with 30 goals and 49 points in 46 games out of the lockout-shortened schedule. He had 33 goals and 69 points as he was traded to San Jose early in 1995/96 and followed that up with 31 goals and 63 points in 1996/97. During this season, he represented the Sharks in the All-Star Game and famously called his shot on Dominik Hasek. Sure it was an All-Star Game moment that would never have happened in a real game, but that panache though! Rightfully, it’s a fondly-remembered moment that was immortalized in the intro FMV for EA Sports’ NHL 98. Nolan rebounded in 1999/00 after a couple weak seasons to close out the 90s, scoring career highs of 44 goals and 84 points in 2000, followed by seasons of 24 goals and 49 points in 57 games, a 35-goal and 70-point pace, and 66 points in 2001/02. In all, he had 224 points in 268 games for Quebec and Colorado and 451 points in 568 games for San Jose. He had decent seasons later in his career as well with the Leafs, Coyotes, Flames, and Wild. Nolan didn’t quite have the high peaks of Lindros’ career, or the longevity of Sundin, but Nolan was an elite player and a multi-time 40-goal scorer at his best, and was one of the first real star players for the Sharks, so maybe he deserves consideration.

Owen Nolan skates with the puck

Teppo Numminen - Defence - 1988/89-2008/09

Drafted in the second round, 29th overall, in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft by the Winnipeg Jets, Numminen debuted during the 1988/89 season. Numminen scored 637 points (117G, 520A) in 1372 games, as well as 23 points (9G, 14A) in 82 playoff games, for the Winnipeg Jets and Phoenix Coyotes (1988/89-2002/03), Dallas Stars (2003/04), and Buffalo Sabres (2005/06-2008/09).

Numminen played in three All-Star Games, representing Phoenix in 1999, 2000, and 2001. Internationally, he represented Finland, winning Bronze at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, Second Place at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, and Silver at the 1988 World Juniors, and the 1988 Calgary and 2006 Turin Olympics.

Numminen gets consideration from me here because of versatility. He didn’t win anything, but could play the role needed of him. He showed offensive ability early on with 11 goals and 43 points in his second season, 1989/90, but at this time, more offensive blueliners Phil Housley and Fredrik Olausson were acquired or emerged with the team. Numminen played more of a supporting role in the early 90s, but was still a consistent 40-point threat, coming close in each of the seasons he shared with the two. Numminen would reach his best offensive years in the mid-to-late 90s. Housley was traded to St. Louis following the 1992/93 season, and Olausson would leave too in a trade to Edmonton during the 1993/94 season, and while injuries delayed his offensive re-emergence, he scored half a point per game during the lockout-shortened 1994/95 season and had his first 50-point season in 1995/96 with 54 points. He returned to a defensive role it seems while Oleg Tverdovsky rose to prominence in the Coyotes’ first year, but Numminen picked up the slack from him the next season and had a career-high 51 points. He didn’t reach 50 points again in his career, but from 1998/99 onward, he would have four more 40+point seasons, including a standout 13-goal and 48-point season in his first year as captain in 2002. That season would be last time Phoenix made the playoffs until 2010. After leaving in 2003, Numminen had a decent season in Dallas and four solid seasons for Buffalo, helping the Buffalo Sabres to a President’s Trophy and Eastern Conference Final appearance in 2007. He was limited by injuries to one game in 2007/08 and retired following 2008/09.

Winnipeg Jets v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images

John Ogrodnick - Right Wing - 1979/80-1992/93

Drafted in the fourth round, 66th overall, in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft by the Detroit Red Wings, Ogrodnick debuted during the 1979/80 season. Ogrodnick scored 827 points (402G, 425A) in 928 games, as well as 26 points (18G, 8A) in 41 playoff games, for the Detroit Red Wings (1979/80-partway through 1986/87, 1992/93), Quebec Nordiques (part of 1986/87), and New York Rangers (1987/88-1991/92).

Ogrodnick earned Second-Team All-Star honours in 1985, and played in five All-Star Games, representing Detroit in 1981, 1982, 1984, 1985, and 1986.

Ogrodnick is part of the celebrated 1979 NHL Draft class, and was very productive in his brief career. He had 32 points in 41 games as a rookie, and from his first full season in 1980/81 to his last full season with Detroit in 1985/86, he would have five 30-goal seasons, topping 40-goals twice and 50 once, and would have five 70 point seasons, topping 80 and 100 once each, with career highs of 55 goals and 105 points in 1984/85. He bounced from team to team later in his career, but had 67 points as Detroit traded him to Quebec in 1986/87, 43 goals and 71 points in 1989/90 with the Rangers, and 31 goals and 54 points in 1990/91. He had 12 points despite playing only 19 games for Detroit in 1992/93. Despite this level of production, the Red Wings opted not to keep him, and he opted to retire. Ogrodnick would have likely won the Cup had been able to stick with the Rangers, or perhaps the Red Wings win in 1994 or 1995 with the extra bit of depth Ogrodnick could provide. As it is, Ogrodnick’s main case lies with him being ninth all-time in scoring among his draft class.

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Fredrik Olausson - Defence - 1986/87-1999/00, 2001/02-2002/03

Drafted in the fourth round, 81st overall, in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft by the Winnipeg Jets, Olausson debuted during the 1986/87 season. Olausson scored 581 points (147G, 434A) in 1022 games, as well as 29 points (6G, 23A) in 71 playoff games, playing for the Winnipeg Jets (1986/87-partway through 1993/94), Edmonton Oilers (partway through 1993/94-partway through 1995/96), Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (partway through 1995/96-partway through 1996/97, 1998/99-1999/00, 2002/03), Pittsburgh Penguins (partway through 1996/97-1997/98), and Detroit Red Wings (2001/02).

Olausson won the Stanley Cup in 2002 with the Detroit Red Wings. Internationally, he represented Sweden, winning Silver at the 1986 World Championships.

One of the more surprising things in hockey is that a defenceman can score at least 40 points six times, 50 points or more in five seasons and reach the 60-point mark twice and never play in an All-Star or get postseason All-Star consideration. Olausson is such a player. Those seasons in question are 15 goals and 62 points in 1989, 55 points in 1990, 12 goals and 41 points in 1991, 20 goals and 62 points in 1992, 16 goals and 57 points in in 68 games (a 20-goal and 70-point pace) in 1993, and 16 goals and 56 points in 1999. While his late 90s and early 2000s weren’t great in terms of production, he did play for some solid teams during this time, helping Anaheim reach the Cup Final after winning the Cup in Detroit in 2002. The 2002 Red Wings had ten Hall-of-Famers playing for them, including sure-fire first-ballotter Pavel Datysuk, and cases can be made, or are at least made by me, for more members of that team to be inducted, and Olausson would increase that number.

Fredrik Olausson Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images

Ed Olczyk - Centre - 1984/85-1999/00

Drafted in the first round, third overall, in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks, Olczyk debuted during the 1984/85 season. Olczyk scored 794 games (342G, 452A) in 1031 games, as well as 34 points (19G, 15A) in 57 playoff games, for the Chicago Blackhawks (1984/85-1986/87, 1998/99-1999/00), Toronto Maple Leafs (1987/88-partway through 1990/91), Winnipeg Jets (partway through 1990/91-partway through 1993/94, partway through 1994/95-1995/96), New York Rangers (partway through 1993/94-partway through 1994/95), Los Angeles Kings (part of 1996/97), and Pittsburgh Penguins (partway through 1996/97-1997/98).

Olczyk won the Stanley Cup in 1994 with the New York Rangers.

Back in the summer of 1996, after the original Jets had played their last in Winnipeg, Olczyk declared that when they won the Cup, “it’s comin’ back to Winnipeg!” None of that came to pass, as Olczyk would wind up signing instead with the Los Angeles Kings, and the Coyotes have not won a Stanley Cup to date, but luckily for Olczyk, a suitably iconic late-period 1.0 Jet, he had already won a championship. Scoring 79 points in as many games as a sophomore in 1986, and with seasons of 42 goals and 75 points in 1988, 38 goals and 90 points in 1989, and 32 goals and 88 points in 1990, Olczyk would score 30 goals and 71 points as he was traded to Winnipeg in 1990/91, and 32 goals and 65 points in 64 games (a 40-goal and 81-point pace) in 1991/92 before he was traded during 1992/93 to the Rangers, with whom he won the Stanley Cup. His production dwindled at this point, though he did finish both the 1993 and 1996 seasons with 49 points, scoring that many in 51 games (a 43-goal and 79-point pace) in the latter, the last season of his second stint in Winnipeg. He scored 55 points as he split the 1996/97 season between Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, and retired after scoring 57 points in 150 games across his final seasons and retiring in 2000.

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