Pierre Turgeon - Centre - 1987/88-2006/07
Drafted in the first round, first overall, in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft by the Buffalo Sabres, Turgeon debuted during the 1987/88 NHL Entry Draft. Turgeon scored 1327 points (515G, 812A) in 1294 games, as well as 97 points (35G, 62A) in 109 playoff games, playing for the Buffalo Sabres (1987/88-partway through 1991/92), New York Islanders (partway through 1991/92-partway through 1994/95), Montreal Canadiens (partway through 1994/95-partway through 1996/97), St. Louis Blues (partway through 1996/97-2000/01) Dallas Stars (2001/02-2003/04), and Colorado Avalanche (2005/06-2006/07).
Turgeon won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy as the league’s most gentlemanly player in 1993. He played in four All-Star Games, representing Buffalo in 1990, the Islanders in 1993 and 1994, and Montreal in 1996.
One of the categories of players I have populated this list with is players who scored at least 1000 points in their career. In my opinion, even if a player goes through the length of their career without a championship or any major awards, even if they got to where they are just by hanging on for a while, it still takes a lot to get 1000 points, and it still takes a lot to be the kind of player that gets to stick around long enough to get grasp at 1000. Turgeon is far above that though. With 1327 points in 1294 games, he comfortably eclipsed 1000 and scored significantly more points than he played games. He didn’t any scoring titles or Cups, but he was a five-time All-Star and the Lady Byng Trophy, despite its reputation as a sportsmanship, does have baked into its description a requirement to exhibit a high standard of play. Turgeon is the highest scoring player in NHL history who is eligible to be, but hasn’t been, inducted into the Hall of Fame. In addition to his peak in 1992/93, the 1993/94 season saw him score 38 goals and 94 points in 69 games, a 46-goal and 114-point pace. His 22-goal 68-point season in 1997/98 with St. Louis pro rates to 30 goals and 93 points. His 31 goals and 65 points in 1998/99 pro rates to 38 goals and 80 points. In 1999/00, he scored 26 goals and 66 points in 52 games, a 41-goal and 104-point pace. Even as late as 2000/01, he scored 30 goals and 82 points. He never reached 20 goals or 50 points following the 2000/01 season, but his 16 goals and 46 points in 62 games 2005/06 with Colorado, his penultimate NHL season and last full season, pro rates to 21 goals and61 points. Again, while I wouldn’t go as far as to suggest a player deserves a spot in the Hall based exclusively on hypothetical production, I do believe it can illustrate just how productive a player really was when injury-related absences can make a player’s lower scoring numbers look unimpressive. While Turgeon, whose points outnumber his games played by a significant margin, doesn’t need it, his numbers if he plays every game of every season of his career are 604 goals and 1557 points. Fun fact: he was one of only two players to not get suspended in the Punch-Up in Piestany, when the Canadian and Soviet teams got into a massive on-ice brawl during the World Juniors. Both teams were disqualified from the tournament and Turgeon was the only skater to not throw a punch and to not suspended, even after his coach sent him out to fight. He was villified for not getting involved and seems from what I’ve read about him to carry a reputation for being gutless and a weak competitor, but given the discourse occurring these days about athlete autonomy, long-term injuries, abusive coaches, and the place of fighting in hockey, Turgeon seems like a straight-up pioneer.
Ian Turnbull - Defenceman - 1974/75-1982/83
Drafted in the first round, 15th overall, in the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Turnbull debuted during the 1974/75 season. Turnbull scored 440 points (123G, 317A) in 628 games, as well as 45 points (13G, 32A) in55 playoff games, for the Toronto Maple Leafs (1974/75-partway through 1981/82), Los Angeles Kings (part of 1981/82), and Pittsburgh Penguins (1982/83).
Turnbull played in one All-Star Game, representing Toronto in 1977.
During the 1970s, the big Maple Leafs star on defence was Borje Salming. But the Hall-of-Famer wasn’t completely alone during that low point in franchise history, having a high quality partner in Ian Turnbull. Turnbull debuted along with Salming in 1973/74 with 35 points to Salming’s 39, and while he only played 22 NHL games the following year, from 1975/76 to 1980/81 they formed an elite one-two punch on the Toronto blueline. Turnbull reached the 50 point mark in all but one of the seasons in that time, four of those seasons being 60-point seasons and one of those being a 70-point season. Salming lasted longer, and was the better player, but Turnbull does stand out in some respects, especially on offence. His career scoring averages to 0.70 points per game versus Salming’s 0.69, a 56-point pace in a contemporary 80-game season versus a 55-point pace for Salming. With 45 points in 55 games, Turnbull’s postseason scoring blows Salming’s 49 in 81 out of the water in terms of rate. That includes 11 points in 10 playoff games during the 1976 postseason and 16 points in 13 games during the 1978 postseason, which saw the Leafs topple burgeoning the Cup contending Islanders and during most of which Salming was sidelined with an eye injury. Turnbull is also the first player in NHL history to score five goals in five shots during a game, and his 79 point career during the 1976/77 season is one point higher than Salming’s career-high, also attained that season. He also twice reached 20 goals, hitting 20 in 1976 and 22 in 1977 whereas Salming never did. Turnbull’s decline came much quicker than Salming’s. First, he was traded to Los Angeles after scoring two assists in 12 games to start the 1981/82 season, and would score 26 points in 42 games for the remainder of the season while spending time in the minors. He would play most of the 1982/83 season in the minors too, going scoreless in six games with the Penguins before retiring. Longevity, or lack thereof, is an issue for Turnbull, but in my opinion, Turnbull’s accomplishments were impressive for the team he played for, and while Salming lasted longer and was the better player overall, Turnbull was the bigger scorer. They’re flipsides of the same coin.
Oleg Tverdovsky - Defenceman - 1994/95-2002/03, 2005/06-2006/07
Drafted in the first round, second overall, in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Tverdovsky debuted during the 1994/95 season. Tverdovsky scored 317 points (77G, 240A) in 713 games, as well as 14 points (0G, 14A) in 45 playoff games, for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (1994/95-partway through 1995/96, 1999/00-2001/02), Winnipeg Jets and Phoenix Coyotes (partway through 1995/96-1998/99), New Jersey Devils (2002/03), Carolina Hurricanes (2005/06), and Los Angeles Kings (2006/07).
Tverdovsky won the Stanley Cup in 2003 with the New Jersey Devils and in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes. Internationally, he represented Russia, winning Bronze at the 1994 World Championships and 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and Gold at the 2009 World Championships.
For a career as brief as Tverdovsky’s, it was a fairly productive career. Between his first non-lockout-shortened season in 1995/96 and 2002/03, his last season before a stint in Europe, he reached the 30 point mark in five of eight seasons, coming close in one more. In that time, he had three seasons topping the 10-goal and 50-point marks, and won his first Stanley Cup. Following the lockout, he won a second Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes. His career may be seen as a bit too brief to be Hall-worthy, and between some of his lesser NHL seasons and his early departure from the league, he have left too much potential untapped, but his production at his peak and his two championships make for a lot more in Tverdovsky’s brief career than many defencemen who lasted longer.
Garry Unger - Centre - 1967/68-1982/83
Signed as an undrafted free agent in 1966 by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Unger debuted during the 1967/68 season. Unger scored 804 points (413G, 391A) in 1105 games, as well as 30 points (12G, 18A) in 52 playoff games, for the Toronto Maple Leafs (part of 1967/68), Detroit Red Wings (partway through 1967/68-partway through 1970/71), St. Louis Blues (partway through 1970/71-1978/79), Atlanta Flames (1979/80), Los Angeles Kings (part of 1980/81), and Edmonton Oilers (partway through 1980/81-1982/83).
Unger played in seven All-Star Games, representing St. Louis in 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, and 1978. Internationally, he represented Canada, winning Bronze at the 1978 World Championships.
While Unger never won any championships or major awards, he was among the first major stars for the St. Louis Blues, reaching the 30-goal mark in all eight of his full seasons with them, including a 41-goal season to go along with his 42-goal season with Detroit in 1969/70. He represented St. Louis in all of the All-Star Games to occur during his tenure with them. Unger isn’t particularly high on the scoring lists, sitting 90th all-time in goals and all the way down at 173rd in points, but he had remarkable consistency during his career, and was a frequent representative of his team in All-Star Games, so he may deserve a look.
Carol Vadnais - Defenceman - 1966/67-1982/83
Signed as an undrafted free agent in 1964 by the Montreal Canadiens, Vadnais debuted during the 1966/67 season. Vadnais scored 587 points (169G, 418A) in 1087 games, as well as 50 points (10G, 40A) in 106 playoff games, for the Montreal Canadiens (1966/67-1967/68), Oakland Seals and California Golden Seals (1968/69-partway through 1971/72), Boston Bruins (partway through 1971/72-partway through 1975/76), New York Rangers (partway through 1975/76-1981/82), and New Jersey Devils (1982/83).
Vadnais won the Stanley Cup in 1968 with the Montreal Canadiens and in 1972 with the Boston Bruins. He played in six All-Star Games, representing Oakland and California in 1969, 1970, and 1972, Boston in 1975, and the Rangers in 1976 and 1978.
In the history of the Boston Bruins, there is a long history of great defencemen. Vadnais, who joined in time to win the Bruins’ second Stanley Cup in three seasons, scoring 10 points in 16 games to add to 34 points in 52 games for a total of 34, kind of gets forgotten. He spent less time with them than many other Bruins defencemen however, but he was very productive in his time with them. In addition to a Cup, he had seasons of 31, 59, and 74 points. He scored seven points in 12 games the year he was traded to the Rangers, and would add 50 points for a total of 57 points that season. He would continue to reach 40 points in the three seasons that followed, and was also a strong goal scorer from the backend throughout his career, scoring double digits eight times, currently sitting 31st all-time among defencemen in goals scored.
Rick Vaive - Right Wing - 1979/80-1991/92
Drafted in the first round, fifth overall, in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft, Vaive debuted during the 1979/80 season. Vaive scored 788 points (441G, 347A) in 876 points, as well as 43 points (27G, 16A) in 54 playoff games, playing for the Vancouver Canucks (part of 1979/80), Toronto Maple Leafs (partway through 1979/80-1986/87), Chicago Blackhawks (1987/88-partway through 1988/89), and Buffalo Sabres (partway through 1988/89-1991/92).
Vaive played in three All-Star Games, representing Toronto in 1982, 1983, and 1984.
Only three players in the history of the Toronto Maple Leafs have scored 50 goals in a season. Only one has done it more than once, much less in consecutive seasons. That player is Rick Vaive. While he is known as the first, last, and only player to have consecutive 50-goal seasons for the Leafs, he was really one of the best goal-scorers of the entire 1980s. He scored 22 goals as the Canucks traded him to the Leafs during his 1979/80 debut season, and then he would have seasons of 33, 54, 51, 52, 35, 33, and 32 goals for Toronto. He would go on to score 43 goals in 1987/88 after being traded to Chicago, and then 31 goals as he was traded from Chicago to Buffalo in 1988/89. He even scored 29 goals in 70 games, a 33-goal pace, in 1989/90, and 25 goals in 71 games, a 28-goal pace, in 1990/91, before playing his final 20 NHL games in 1991/92 with only one goal. He never played for great teams stacked with talent, so his assists lagged somewhat, which explains why he never reached the 100-point mark, but he did reach the 60-point mark each season between 1980/81 and 1987/88, including three 70-point seasons, among them two 80-point seasons including a 90-point season. He would also top 40 points in all of the three seasons from 1988/89 to 1990/91, including two 50-point seasons. Vaive is the only player in the top 10 (or the top 12 for that matter) in goals through the 1980s that isn’t in the Hall of Fame. All-time he falls to 66th, but that owes more than anything to the short length of his career, which for all I know is a deal-breaker for you, the reader.
John Vanbiesbrouck - Goaltender - 1981/82, 1983/84-2001/02
Drafted in the fourth round, 72nd overall, in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers, Vanbiesbrouck debuted during the 1981/82 season. Vanbiesbrouck posted a 374-346-119 record, 0.899 Save%, 2.98 GAA, and 40 shutouts, as well as 28-38 record, 0.915 Save%, 2.68 GAA, and five shutouts in 71 playoff games, for the New York Rangers (1981/82, 1983/84-1992/93), Florida Panthers (1993/94-1997/98), Philadelphia Flyers (1998/99-1999/00), New York islanders (part of 2000/01), and New Jersey Devils (partway through 2000/01-2001/02).
Vanbiesbrouck won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender in 1986. He earned Second-Team All-Star honours in 1994 and First-Team All-Star honours in 1986, and played in three All-Star Games, representing Florida in 1994, 1996, and 1997. Internationally, he represented the United States, winning Second Place at the 1991 Canada Cup.
The Rangers had a bit of a goalie controversy once the 1992/93 season ended. They had two starter calibre goaltenders in Vanbiesbrouck and Mike Richter. Richter was slightly younger, but Vanbiesbrouck had a Vezina Trophy under his belt. Ultimately, the Rangers made the bold move of going with the less proven goalie and wound up winning a Stanley Cup. Vanbiesbrouck meanwhile was traded to Vancouver, in exchange for longtime Canucks defenceman Doug Lidster, and subsequently picked by Florida in the expansion draft. He would spend five seasons in Florida, representing the Panthers in three of a possible four All-Star Games and helping them do what was seen as an impossibility, getting to a Cup Final while still an “expansion team.” Only the Blues had done it before, making the Cup Final in their first three seasons basically because the “all expansion teams in their own division” setup guaranteed they would. In the modern era of dozens of NHL teams, it is almost impossible for an expansion team to accomplish that, bearing in mind teams like the Panthers came to be in an era where expansion protection rules were designed to do as little as possible to compromise the rosters of the existing franchises, taking a very “if you build it they will come” approach with no consideration for how the teams would compete for entertainment dollars in their home markets, basically the antithesis of what was intended with the Vegas and Seattle expansion drafts. With that in mind, reaching the Cup Final in year three was impressive. It could be argued that Vanbiesbrouck is partly responsible for the problems with today’s game, such as the normalization of the lackadaisical refereeing, the over-emphasis on defence and coaching, and the still-depressed league-wide goal-scoring numbers. As much as Martin Brodeur and the 1995 Devils are to blame, John Vanbiesbrouck and the 1996 Panthers are just as much to blame for having almost as much success with a fraction of the on-ice talent and coaching expertise. The game has yet to recover back to a pre-Devils focus on offence, but the thing is, Vanbiesbrouck had to be a pretty good goaltender in his day for that to happen. Not just anyone could have gotten a team only three years removed from building its roster out of wholecloth from the rest of the league’s table scraps (while sharing with other franchises at that) but Vanbiesbrouck did that.
Mike Vernon - Goaltender - 1982/83-1983/84, 1984/85-2001/02
Drafted in the third round, 56th overall, in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft by the Calgary Flames, Vernon debuted during the 1982/83 season. Vernon posted a 385-273-92, 0.889 Save%, 2.98 GAA, and 27 shutouts in 781 games, as well as a 77-56 record, 0.896 Save%, 2.68 GAA, and six shutouts in 138 playoff games, playing for the Calgary Flames (1982/83-1983/84, 1985/86-1993/94, 2000/01-2001/02), Detroit Red Wings (1994/95-1996/97), San Jose Sharks (1997/98-partway through 1999/00), and Florida Panthers (part of 1999/00).
Vernon won the Stanley Cup in 1989 with the Calgary Flames and in 1997 with the Detroit Red Wings. He won the William M. Jennings Trophy, for playing at least 25 games for the team with the fewest goals scored against, in 1996 and the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 1997. He earned Second-Team All-Star honours in 1989, and played in five All-Star Games, representing Calgary in 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, and 1993.
Vernon is on the list for his body of work with the Flames, and to a lesser extent the Red Wings. He became the Flames’ top goaltender during the 1986 playoffs, leading the Flames to a Stanley Cup Final and would hold on to the top spot on the team for eight seasons, playing in five All-Star Games and winning a Stanley Cup for the Flames. Vernon would backstop the Red Wings to the 1995 Stanley Cup Final, and while he wound up losing the regular season starting job to Chris Osgood during both the 1995/96 and 1996/97 seasons, he did wind up wresting it back for the 1997 playoffs and helping the Red Wings win their first Stanley Cup in 42 seasons. Vernon did have a few more solid seasons late in his career, getting the Sharks back to the playoffs in two straight seasons, 1998 and 1999, after they had missed two postseasons and even backstopping the Panthers to their first postseason since 1997 after being acquired in 1999/00.
Pat Verbeek - Right Wing - 1982/83-2001/02
Drafted in the third round, 43rd overall, in the 1982 NHL Entry Draft by the New Jersey Devils, Verbeek debuted during the 1982/83 season. Verbeek scored 1062 points (522G, 540A) in 1424 games, as well as 62 points (26G, 36A) in 117 playoff games, playing for the New Jersey Devils (1982/83-1988/89), Hartford Whalers (1989/90-partway through 1994/95), New York Rangers (partway through 1994/95-1995/96), Dallas Stars (1996/97-1998/99, 2001/02), and Detroit Red Wings (1999/00-2000/01).
Verbeek won the Stanley Cup in 1999 with the Dallas Stars. Verbeek played in two All-Star Games, representing Hartford in 1991 and the Rangers in 1996. Internationally, he represented Canada, winning Bronze at the 1983 World Juniors, second place at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, Silver at the 1989 World Championships, and Gold at the 1994 World Championships.
When discussing who should or shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame, the most common argument in favour of Keith Tkachuk getting in is that he has more goals than any player who is eligible to be inducted (he moves to fourth behind several players with decent-to-great chances of getting in when including players who are not yet eligible). The biggest argument against is that if Tkachuk gets in based on being the goal leader among the remaining eligible players, then Pat Verbeek would the goal leader among the remaining eligible players, and what then, does he get in? Don’t get me wrong, I do understand the argument on a fundamental level, if they keep inducting the player who has the most goals among eligible players into the Hall, eventually that will be the criteria used to support a player whose goal total isn’t high enough to warrant being inducted. I am not qualified to determine where the line is between who we do and don’t see inducted based on goal totals (clearly), but I think I’m being very reasonable when I say that Verbeek is not where we draw the line. It is generally agreed that Tkachuk has a decent case to get in, and Verbeek is only 16 goals and three total points behind Tkachuk’s career totals, and has a Stanley Cup where Tkachuk has none. Verbeek is a 500-goal scorer, and a 1000-point scorer, and he had a considerable reputation during his playing days, having been given the epithet “Little Ball of Hate.” He did narrowly miss out on a second Cup by leaving Detroit to return to Dallas the summer preceding Detroit’s third Cup of the modern era, but his career production (eight seasons over 30 goals, including four over 40; six seasons over 70 points, including four over 80) and the one Cup he did win give him a good resume for the induction committee to consider. Fun fact: he is the only player in league history to have more than 500 goals and 2500 PIMs. Another fun fact: his thumb was cut off by auger during the 1985 offseason but was reattached thanks in part to quick action by his family and he didn’t miss any games as a result.
Cam Ward - Goaltender - 2005/06-2018/19
Drafted in the first round, 25th overall, in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes, Ward debuted during the 2005/06 season. Ward posted a 334-256-88 record, 0.908 Save%, 2.74 GAA, and 27 shutouts in 701 games, as well as a 23-18 record, 0.917 Save%, 2.38 GAA, and 41 playoff games, for the Carolina Hurricanes (2005/06-2017/18), and Chicago Blackhawks (2018/19).
Ward won the Stanley Cup in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2006. He played in one All-Star Game, representing Carolina in 2006. Internationally, he represented Canada, winning Silver at the 2008 World Championships and Gold at the 2007 World Championships.
Ward may not be a player people think should be in the Hall. Those people aren’t necessarily being unreasonable. Ward only posted a Save% of 0.910 or more once after the 2011/12 season, posting just that in 2014/15, and didn’t play a playoff game for the final ten seasons of his career. In fact, he played only 41 playoff games across two postseasons. But what postseasons they were! Ward debuted during the 2005/06 season, being promoted during the regular season and playing 28 games as the second stringer to Martin Gerber, but after Gerber struggled to open the postseason, Ward became the starter. He wound up leading the Whalers-Hurricanes franchise to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. While he only wound up in one more postseason in his career, he would go on to lead Carolina to the Eastern Conference Final in 2009. He contributed quality goaltending performances through the 2011/12 season. With Ward, the question boils down to whether he deserves to be in the Hall based on the first seven seasons of his career, where all of his achievements are, or not because of his career as a whole. Ward is not eligible this year as he only retired two years ago instead of the required three, but as there is no induction this year, he will be eligible for the next induction, which is next year.
Doug Weight - Centre - 1990/91-2010/11
Drafted in the second round, 34th overall, in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers, Weight debuted during the 1991 playoffs. Weight scored 1033 points (278G, 755A) in 1238 games, as well as 72 points (23G, 49A) in 97 playoff games, playing for the New York Rangers (1990/91-partway through 1992/92), Edmonton Oilers (partway through 1992/93-2000/01), St. Louis Blues (2001/02-partway through 2005/06, 2006/07-partway through 2007/08), Carolina Hurricanes (part of 2005/06), Anaheim Ducks (part of 2007/08), and New York Islanders (2008/09-2010/11).
Weight won the Stanley Cup in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes. He won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for leadership and humanitarianism in 2011. He played in four All-Star Games, representing Edmonton in 1996, 1998, and 2001 and St. Louis in 2003. Internationally, he represented the United States, winning Silver at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.
Weight is another member of the 1000-point club, which is the main reason for him being on this list. While he never reached the 30-goal mark in a season, he did reach the 60-point mark in eight seasons, including six 70-point seasons, three 80-point seasons, two 90-point seasons, and one 100-point season. Weight is a player who missed a considerable amount of time in his career with injuries, falling below 70 games in a season on a number of occasions. Had he played a full schedule in all of his seasons scoring at the rate he did, his final total would be 1248 points in 1496 games. As it stands, he is a Stanley Cup winner in the 1000-point club, and ought to deserve a look.
Ray Whitney - Left Wing - 1991/92-2013/14
Drafted in the second round, 23rd overall, in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft by the San Jose Sharks, Whitney debuted during the 1991/92 season. Whitney scored 1064 points (385G, 679A) in 1330 games, as well as 53 points (21G, 32A) in 108 playoff games, for the San Jose Sharks (1991/92-1996/97), Edmonton Oilers (part of 1997/98), Florida Panthers (partway through 1997/98-partway through 2000/01), Columbus Blue Jackets (partway through 2000/01-2002/03), Detroit Red Wings (2003/04), Carolina Hurricanes (2005/06-2009/10), Phoenix Coyotes (2010/11-2011/12), and Dallas Stars (2012/13-2013/14).
Whitney won the Stanley Cup in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes. He earned Second-Team All-Star honours in 2012 and played in two All-Star Games, representing Florida in 2000 and Columbus in 2003.
It can be easily seen why Whitney is as obscure as he is. He wasn’t a frequent All-Star, wasn’t in the conversation among the top scorers despite having many excellent scoring seasons, and he didn’t win a Cup until fairly late in his career. But Whitney is part of the 1000-point club and a great modern example of longevity. He had seasons of 57 and 77 points as a 39- and 40-year-old, and even had 29 points in 32 games (a 74-point pace in an 82-game season) in his penultimate season. Whitney was a part of some notable playoff successes for various teams, helping the Sharks get to their first two playoff appearances in 1994 and 1995, helping the Panthers return to the playoffs after a two-year absence in 2000 before their extended drought, being a part of the Red Wings’ 14th out of 25 straight playoff appearances in 2004, helping the Hurricanes win their first Cup and then return to the Eastern Conference Final three years later preceding their extended drought, helping the Coyotes to their second and third straight postseasons and the franchise’s first Western Conference Final, and helping the Stars get back to the playoffs after a five-season drought in his final NHL season. I think he deserves a look.
Alexei Yashin - Centre - 1993/94-1998/99, 2000/01-2006/07
Drafted in the first round, second overall, in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft by the Ottawa Senators, Yashin debuted during the 1993/94 season. Yashin scored 781 points (337G, 444A) in 850 games, as well as 27 points (11G, 16A) in 48 playoff games, for the Ottawa Senators (1993/94-1998/99, 2000/01), and New York Islanders (2001/02-2006/07).
Yashin earned Second-Team All-Star honours in 1999 and played in three All-Star Games, representing 1994 and 1999 and the Islanders in 2002. Internationally, he represented Russia, winning Bronze at the 2005 World Championships and 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, Silver at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, and Gold at the 1992 World Juniors with Team CIS and at the 1993 World Championships.
Yashin is certainly a case of unrealized potential. Thanks in part to how mishandled he was by the Senators, his career stumbled at its peak, and he was never the same after two 40-goal and 80-point topping seasons. Much blame has historically gone to Yashin, between bad attitude and his 1999/00 contract dispute, but amidst the conversations starting to be had in the hockey world about how players relate to and are treated by their organizations, and what we know about Yashin’s lack of organizational support early on compared to infamous draft bust Alexandre Daigle (the Sens campaigned for Daigle to be nominated for the 1994 Calder Trophy despite scoring 20 goals and 51 points to Yashin’s 30 goals and 79 points and consistently lowballed him in favour of Daigle come contract negotiation time), perhaps there’s more to the story here than just a malcontended prima donna European. In any case, there were only four seasons in which Yashin didn’t score 60 points, those being the lockout-shortened 1995 season, injury-shortened 1996, 2004, and 2007 seasons. In those seasons, he scored 44 points in 47 games, 39 points in 46 games (70-point pace), 34 points in 47 games (59-point pace), and 50 points in 58 games (71-point pace). Without injuries, his scoring pace would have been 875 points. He was bought out after the 2006/07 season with four more years on his contract and left to play the rest of his career in Russia. He retired in 2012, one year after his Islanders contract would have expired, and was seen on CBC on the commentating team for the Sochi Olympics. His buyout expired in 2015. Considering the Islanders weren’t a playoff team after Yashin left and Yashin was still a pretty effective offensive player on ice, it’s a little disappointing to see that he never made it work. His story was one of “what could have been,” but based on what he did accomplish on the ice, along with his 2020 induction into the IIHF Hall of Fame and his Olympic medals, perhaps some consideration is warranted.
Scott Young - Left Wing - 1987/88-1990/91, 1992/93-2005/06
Drafted in the first round, 11th overall, in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft by the Hartford Whalers, Young debuted during the 1987/88 season. Young scored 756 points (342G, 414A) in 1181 games, as well as 87 points (44G, 43A) in 141 playoff games, for the Hartford Whalers (1987/88-partway through 1990/91), Pittsburgh Penguins (part of 1990/91), Quebec Nordiques and Colorado Avalanche (1992/93-1996/97), Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (1997/98), St. Louis Blues (1998/99-2001/02, 2005/06), and Dallas Stars (2002/03-2003/04).
Young won the Stanley Cup in 1991 with the Pittsburgh Penguins and in 1996 with the Colorado Avalanche. Internationally, he represented the United States, Bronze at the 1986 World Juniors, Silver at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, and the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.
Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg, who were both the no.1 and no.2 centre with the Colorado Avalanche when they won the Stanley Cup in 1996, are in the Hall of Fame. Included on this list are the players who played wing on their respective lines during that Cup run. On this list we’ve already looked at Claude Lemieux and Valeri Kamensky, who were Forsberg’s wingers, and Adam Deadmarsh, one of Sakic’s, and now we look at Sakic’s other winger, Young. Young debuted during the 1987/88 season, but didn’t score a point until the following season, finishing with seasons of 59 and 64 points, respectively, before his move to the Penguins during the 1990/91 season. He would only score 42 points in 73 games that season, but won his first Stanley Cup that year. He spent the 1991/92 season in Europe and with the US National Team, before returning to the NHL with the Quebec Nordiques and enjoying the peak of his career in the mid-90s. He had 30 goals and 60 points in 1992/93 and followed up with 51 points in 1993/94 and 39 points in 48 games during the lockout-shortened 1994/95 season. He had his third 60-point season in 1995/96, the year he lined up with Sakic on the Cup-winning Avalanche. After falling to 37 points, he was traded to Anaheim, who let him go after a 33-point season. He reached a second plateau in his career after joining the Blues, finishing the 1998/99 season with 24 goals and 52 points and the 2000/01 season with 40 goals and 73 points. Young would age somewhat gracefully as a player, playing for four more seasons and topping 40 points in all but one of them, before retiring in 2006. Young had some great seasons, and was part of a major scoring line on a Stanley Cup team.
Zarley Zalapski - Defence - 1987/88-1997/98, 1999/00
Drafted in the first round, fourth overall, in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins, Zalapski debuted during the 1987/88 season. Zalapski scored 384 points (99G, 285A) in 637 games, as well as 27 points (4G, 23A) in 48 playoff games, for the Pittsburgh Penguins (1987/88-partway through 1990/91), Hartford Whalers (partway through 1990/91-partway through 1993/94), Calgary Flames (partway through 1993/94-partway through 1997/98), Montreal Canadiens (part of 1997/98), and Philadelphia Flyers (1999/00).
Zalapski earned Second-Team All-Star honours in 1989 and played in one All-Star Game, representing Hartford in 1993. Internationally, he represented Canada,
Zalapski is on this list in a similar capacity to Jeff Brown, as a defenceman who never won a major award or a Cup, and unfortunately didn’t have the longevity of some other players, but was an excellent scorer at his peak. He began his career quite productively, with 11 points in 15 games, 45 points in 58 games (a 62-point pace), and 31 points in 51 games (a 49-point pace) in the 1988, 1989, and 1990 seasons. His best seasons came from 1991 through 1994, with seasons of 54 points in 77 games (a 56-point pace) in 1990/91, the year the Penguins traded him to Hartford, 57 points in 79 games (a 58-point pace), in 1991/92, 65 points in 83 games (a 66-point pace) in 1992/93, and 47 points in 69 games (a 57-point pace) in 1993/94, the year the Whalers traded him to Calgary. Injuries and other issues seemed to take a toll after the lockout, with Zalapski only scoring 28 points in 48 games (a 48-point pace in an 82-game season) in the lockout-shortened 1994/95 season, and 29 points in 80 games (a 30-point pace) in 1995/96. He played only two games during the 1996/97 season and then 15 points in 63 games (a 20-point pace) in 1997/98, the year the Flames traded him to Montreal. He didn’t play in the NHL in 1998/99, and had two points in 12 games (a 14-point pace) for Philadelphia in 1999/00. He would never again play in the NHL, falling just one goal short of 100 despite his early-career goal-scoring prowess. If not for the injuries he suffered in his career, at his scoring rate he would have had 530 points in 879 career games, a more impressive resume. As it stands, it didn’t happen, and his 12 games for Philadelphia in 1999/00 are the only NHL games he played between the fall of 1998 and his retirement in 2010. And sadly, his time with the Penguins at the start of the 1990s was the closest he’d come to a Stanley Cup. Paul Coffey and Larry Murphy were already in town and the Penguins wanted to reel in Ron Francis, and Zalapski, as well as John Cullen, were seen as the price to pay to get him. His teams struggled to make the playoffs for the remainder of his career. He passed away in 2017 due to a viral infection and was found to have more tau protein, a result of chronic tramautic encephalopathy, on his brain than Steve Montador had at the time of his suicide.
Henrik Zetterberg - Left Wing - 2002/03-2017/18
Drafted in the seventh round, 210th overall, in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft by the Detroit Red Wings, Zetterberg debuted during the 2002/03 season. Zetterberg scored 960 points (337G, 623A) in 1082 games, as well as 120 points (57G, 63A) in 137 playoff games, for the Detroit Red Wings (2002/03-2017/18).
Zetterberg won the Stanley Cup in 2008 with the Detroit Red Wings. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP in 2008 and the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for leadership and humanitarianism in 2015. He earned All-Rookie honours in 2003 and Second-Team All-Star honours in 2008. Internationally, he represented Sweden, representing Sweden, winning Bronze at the 2001 and 2002 World Championships, Silver at the 2003 World Championships and 2014 Sochi Olympics, and Gold at the 2006 World Championships and 2006 Turin Olympics.
Pop quiz! How many Conn Smythe Trophies did Pavel Datysuk, widely seen as the Detroit Red Wings’ best forward if not best player for the last decade, win as playoff MVP in his career? The answer is none. Datsyuk may have racked up a handful of Selkes and Lady Byngs as the best defensive forward and the most gentlemanly player all while dazzling with gifted on-ice moves and loading up on points, but Zetterberg who, it could be argued, was overshadowed by Datsyuk for much of their time together, was the only one of the two to get playoff MVP honours. None of this is to argue Datsyuk wasn’t the better player, because he was, but Datsyuk is unquestionably a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, so the direct comparison is what illustrates how much of a case Zetterberg has. Zetterberg does stand out in other respects than just his Conn Smythe. While Datsyuk has the higher scoring rate, Zetterberg has the higher number of actual points and played more games, as well as seasons, in the NHL. Datsyuk may have had the higher highs, with a career-high of 97 points versus Zetterberg’s 92, he also had lower lows, twice falling below 40 points in his career while Zetterberg never had fewer than 43 points. Datsyuk had 49 points in 47 games during the lockout-shortened season, while Zetterberg had 48 points in 46 games. While Datsyuk had 37 points in 45 games in 2013/14, Zetterberg had 48 points in 45 games that year. Datsyuk never wore the “C” during his career, arriving in Detroit at the tail end of Steve Yzerman’s career, and seeing the end of the next captain Nicklas Lidstrom’s career. It was Zetterberg who succeeded Lidstrom as captain, and while Datsyuk’s departure in 2016, returning to Russia as the final year of his contract was traded to Phoenix, was what heralded the end of Detroit’s 25 straight years in the playoffs, Zetterberg’s departure in 2018 was what really ended the Red Wings’ relevance. It took until 2012 for Datsyuk win a Gold at the Worlds, and until 2018, after the NHL stopped allowing NHLers to go to the Olympics, for Datsyuk, by that time out of the NHL to win Olympic Gold with the Olympic Athletes from Russia and take his place in the Triple Gold Club, whereas Zetterberg had both before he got his Cup in 2008, getting in a decade before his Russian counterpart. While his contract only ended this summer, he ended his career back in 2018 due to persistent back issues, meaning this would have been his first year of eligibility for the Hall. As a reminder of his achievements on his own merits, he was a nine-time 60-point/five-time 70-point/three-time 80-point/one-time 90-point scorer with four 30-goal seasons including a 40-goal season, along with a Stanley Cup and his Conn Smythe, and is a member of the Triple Gold Club. No All-Star Games though. Curious.
Alexei Zhamnov - Centre - 1992/93-2005/06
Drafted in the fourth round, 77th overall, in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft by the Winnipeg Jets, Zhamnov debuted during the 1992/93 season. Zhamnov scored 719 points (249G, 470A) in 807 games, as well as 19 points (6G, 13A) in 35 playoff games, for the Winnipeg Jets (1992/93-1995/96), Chicago Blackhawks (1996/97-partway through 2003/04), Philadelphia Flyers (part of 2003/04), and Boston Bruins (2005/06).
Zhamnov earned Second-Team All-Star honours in 1995 and played in one All-Star Game, representing Chicago in 2002. Internationally, he represented Russia, winning Bronze at the 1991 World Championships with the Soviet Union and at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, Silver at the 1990 World Juniors with the Soviet Union and at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, and Gold with the Unified Team at the 1992 Albertville Olympics.
Zhamnov topped the 50-point mark in each of his seasons from 1992/93 through 2002/03, save for two, the 1997/98 and 2000/01 seasons. His best years no doubt came in Winnipeg, where he had seasons of 72 points in 68 games, 71 points in 61 games, 65 points in 48 games, and 59 points in 58 games, respectively. He wouldn’t again score points in a season than he played games from that point forward, but remained a solid scoring forward. Not that his hypothetical production is the difference between him getting into the Hall and not getting in, but he did miss a significant amount of time with injuries. Scoring at his career goals and points per game rates, his 249 goals and 719 points in 807 games turns into 320 goals and 923 points in 1036 games. Zhamnov was one of the star performers of the 1994/95 season, his 65 points second only to the 70 points scored by Jaromir Jagr and Eric Lindros.
So, yeah, I’ll admit this expanded well beyond the scope I had intended originally. I was only going to include a handful of players, maybe enough to form an NHL regulation lineup (12 forwards, six defencmen, and two or three goaltenders, perhaps plus a few), but I kept getting ideas for who I wanted to add, and changed the focus from “I want this player in the Hall of Fame” to “this player meets the kind of criteria that often gets players into the Hall of Fame.” Thanks for taking the time to check this series out.
You can follow this link for a handy list of all the players I included on this list, to see at a glance, more or less, what NHL teams each player played for.