Active NHLers Destined for the HHOF

You will often hear about certain players being labelled “locks” for the Hockey Hall of Fame (HHOF). If their career ended today, their current resume would be enough to get them into the Hall without any more games played.

Related: 7 Highly Questionable HHOF Selections

There are plenty of players like Leon Draisaitl and Auston Matthews that will almost assuredly make the Hall of Fame, but there’s still some work to do. If their current trajectory continues, they’ll absolutely make it. But as of right now, their resumes aren’t enough.

By position and then alphabetical order, here are the 18 active NHL players that will be in the HHOF.

The Forwards

Nicklas Backstrom

Games played: 1,010 (258-722-980)

We start with a controversial name on this list, simply because Backstrom doesn’t have any individual hardware. However, he has a Stanley Cup, which is more than some others on this list have. He also has an Olympic silver medal.

Nicklas Backstrom Washington Capitals
Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

He’s also played at nearly a point-per-game throughout his career and has 11 seasons with 50 or more points. He’s been over 70 points for the last six straight seasons and was over 100 points once in 2009-10. Since he entered the league in 2007-08, he has more assists than any other player over that time.

Patrice Bergeron

Games played: 1,141 (374-542-916)

Patrice Bergeron will finish his career as one of the best defensive forwards to play in the NHL. He’s won four Frank J. Selke Awards to prove that, which is tied with Hall of Famer Bob Gainey for the most all-time. He’s also finished in the top five an additional five times.

On top of his Selke wins, he has also won the King Clancy Trophy and the NHL Foundation Player Award. To add to his cupboard, Bergeron also has a Stanley Cup and two Olympic gold medals. He’s part of an elite group known as the Triple Gold Club for winning a Stanley Cup, an Olympic gold and a World Hockey Championship gold. He’s also won gold in the World Junior Hockey Championship and the World Cup. It’s safe to say he knows how to win.

Sidney Crosby

Games played: 1,038 (486-839-1,325)

Three Stanley Cups, two Art Ross Trophies, two Hart Trophies, two Conn Smythe Trophies, three Ted Lindsay Awards, two Rocket Richard Trophies, and two Olympic gold medals. The induction introduction writes itself. Plus, Crosby achieved all of that despite losing a great deal of time to concussions throughout his career.

Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

There’s no question that he has already carved out a HHOF career and it’s impressive to think what his resume could look like if it weren’t for his bout with concussions. He’s also a member of the Triple Gold Club.

Patrick Kane

Games played: 1,027 (404-682-1,086)

If the three Stanley Cups aren’t enough, perhaps the Art Ross Trophy, Hart Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award, Calder Trophy, and Conn Smythe trophy will do it. Patrick Kane is already a lock for the HHOF.

One of the all-time best American-born players, Patrick Kane is a future Hall of Famer (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He’s already in the top 10 for points by an American-born player, and since coming into the league, he trails just Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Alexander Ovechkin in points. He may just be the best American to ever play in the league. He’s a playoff performer as well, with a 0.97 points per game in the postseason, including five overtime-winning goals.

Anze Kopitar

Games played: 1,125 (346-654-1,000)

The first Slovenian to ever play in the NHL, Anze Kopitar has become one of the best two-way forwards in the game. Between him and Bergeron, the Selke Trophy usually goes to one of them, with Kopitar winning two of them.

On top of the Selke wins, Kopitar has led the Los Angeles Kings to two Stanley Cups and has a Lady Byng Trophy to his name. He’s earned votes for the Lady Byng trophy in 11 seasons. While being great away from the puck, he’s also led his team in points for the majority of his career.

Evgeni Malkin

Games played: 939 (424-680-1,104)

When he’s healthy, Malkin is arguably the toughest player in the NHL to defend. His combination of size, speed, and power is truly remarkable. He’s like a freight train out on the ice. Unfortunately, he’s dealt with injury problems throughout his career that limited him.

Evgeni Malkin
Powerful and elite, Evgeni Malkin is a lock for the HHOF (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

In the games Malkin does play, he’s a force. He’s won three Stanley Cups, two Art Ross Trophies a Calder Memorial Trophy, a Hart Memorial, a Ted Lindsay Award and a Conn Smythe.

Connor McDavid

Games played: 403 (193-372-565)

There’s not much you can say about Connor McDavid that hasn’t already been said. He’s the best player in the world right now, yes, even better than Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. Since entering the NHL at 19-years-old, he’s been a human highlight reel, showcasing his shot, hands, power, offensive creativity, and most of all super-human speed. He’s a generational player if there ever was one.

At the young age of 24, McDavid is already part of the 500-point club with a full trophy case that includes a Hart Memorial Trophy (soon to be two), Ted Lindsay Award, two Art Ross Trophies (soon to be three), two Lester B Pearson Awards, and is a three-time First-Team All-Star. He was the youngest captain of the Edmonton Oilers at 19 years and 266 days and will soon see his fourth 100-plus point season. If that wasn’t impressive enough, he wasn’t expected to even touch the century mark this season because of the number of games played. In a normal 82-game season, he would have finished with an astounding 149 points if his 1.82 points-per-game held up. The last time a player hit at least that total was back in the 1995-96 season when Mario Lemieux put up 161 points.

Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid
Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

The only thing McDavid needs to complete his HHOF resume is a Stanley Cup, which could come as soon as this season. Even if he doesn’t end up slipping on a Stanley Cup ring by the end of his career, I’m sure his regular season accolades will be more than enough to get him in anyway.

Alex Ovechkin

Games played: 1,196 (706-590-1,320)

Ovechkin might not be the human wrecking ball that he was earlier in his career, but he is still a human highlight reel. Few players in the history of the game have been blessed with the type of shot and explosive offensive ability that Ovechkin possesses. From any angle, anywhere in the offensive zone, he is a threat to score. There’s even a chance he catches Wayne Gretzky’s goals record.

Ovechkin is the only player in history to win more than two Rocket Richard Trophies – he has eight of them. He finally won a Stanley Cup in 2018, won three Hart Trophies, three Ted Lindsay Awards, a Conn Smythe Trophy, a Calder Trophy, and an Art Ross Trophy.

Joe Thornton

Games played: 1,677 (425-1,103-1,528)

His detractors love to point out his shortcomings in the playoffs but don’t acknowledge how strong of a point producer he is in the regular season. Thornton has registered at least 70 points twelve times. He’s currently 12th for games played all-time, 14th all-time in points, and eighth all-time in assists.

San Jose Sharks' Joe Thornton
Even without a Cup, Joe Thornton has earned a Hall of Fame induction (AP Photo/Josie Lepe)

While Thornton is still searching for the Stanley Cup, there’s no arguing his hockey resume. He has a Hart Memorial Trophy, an Art Ross Trophy and an Olympic gold medal.

Jonathan Toews

Games played: 943 (345-470-815)

The third and final member of the Triple Gold Club, Jonathan Toews has cemented his role as one of the best leaders in the NHL. He’s led the Chicago Blackhawks to three Stanley Cups, and with Team Canada has two Olympic gold medals, two U20 World Junior Championship golds, a World Championship gold and a World Cup gold.

He’s even collected individual awards, with a Mark Messier Leadership Award, Conn Smyth Award and a Frank J. Selke Trophy. Toews has led every team he’s on to win it all and should be a lock for the HHOF.

Forward Honourable Mentions: Ryan Getzlaf, Patrick Marleau, Auston Matthews, Leon Draisaitl, Corey Perry, and Steven Stamkos.

The Defenders

Zdeno Chara

Games played: 1,606 (207-458-665)

Though Chara has won only one Norris Trophy, he has consistently been a top contender for the trophy over his career and was a finalist (top three) six times. Every defenseman who has done that who is eligible has made the Hall of Fame. His leadership is not to be questioned and was awarded for it with the Mark Messier Leadership Award in 2010-11.

Zdeno Chara Boston Bruins
Zdeno Chara, former Boston Bruin (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

He was the anchor of the Stanley Cup winning Bruins in 2010-11 and was the most important player on what was one of the best defensive teams in recent memory. The biggest player in NHL history, Chara dominated in his own zone with his physicality and reach. On the offensive end, his booming slapshot and occasional forays as a net presence on the power play made him a force to be reckoned with.

Drew Doughty

Games played: 971 (125-411-536)

Ever since breaking into the league, Drew Doughty has been one of the league’s best defenders. He may just have one Norris Trophy win, but during his career, he’s received votes for the award in eight seasons. That includes four top-five finishes.

Doughty has bolstered his resume with two Stanley Cups, two Olympic gold medals, an U20 World Junior Championship gold medals, a World Cup gold, and a World Championship silver.

Victor Hedman

Games played: 816 (114-404-518)

Victor Hedman might have started his NHL career at a turtle’s pace back in 2009, but has since become one of, if not the best defenceman in the entire league. His impressive blend of size, speed, and overall reliable two-way play has led the Tampa Bay Lightning’s attack for the past eight seasons. Since putting up his first 50-point campaign in 2014, he’s accumulated 374 points in 483 games and has filled his trophy case with a Norris Trophy in 2018, and the ultimate prizes of a Conn Smythe Trophy and a Stanley Cup in 2020.

Hedman has also led his country to a gold and bronze medal at the World Championship and two silver medals at the U20 World Junior Championship.

Erik Karlsson

Games played: 736 (143-482-625)

Erik Karlsson has not only been one of the best defensemen in the league over his career but he’s become one of the best offensive defensemen ever to play the game. His .795 points per game are 12th all-time, and he’s already in the top-50 defenders for points at just 30-years-old.

San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson
Erk Karlsson is one of the best defensemen of his generation (Photo by Samuel Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

While Karlsson is still looking for his Stanley Cup, he’s collected two Norris Trophies and an Olympic silver. He’s received votes for the Norris Trophy in seven of his 11 seasons. He’s also finished in the top-10 for the Hart Trophy four times.

Duncan Keith

Games played: 1,192 (105-520-625)

Some may question whether or not Keith is a lock, but most don’t appreciate how consistently great he’s been over his career. Yes, he won two Norris Trophies, but he was exceptionally strong every other season. He just didn’t put up huge numbers in those years.

Averaging 31:07 in the 2015 playoffs, Keith led the Blackhawks to their third Stanley Cup in six seasons. His effortless skating, poise with the puck, and exemplary two-way play were remarkable. Only five defensemen in NHL history have won multiple Norris Trophies and a Conn Smythe Trophy: Bobby Orr, Larry Robinson, Brian Leetch, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Duncan Keith. The first four are all Hall of Famers. His two Olympic gold medals don’t hurt either.

Defensemen Honourable Mentions: Brent Burns, Kris Letang and P.K Subban

The Goaltenders

Marc-Andre Fleury

Games played: 881 (2.55 career goals against average, .913 career save percentage)

It’s hard to imagine a world where Marc-Andre Fleury doesn’t have a Vezina Trophy. Although that may change this season as he boasts a very impressive 2.07 goals-against average (GAA), .926 save percentage (SV%) to go along with five shutouts (as of this writing). Even without the goalie hardware, he has led the Pittsburgh Penguins to three Stanley Cups and was a strong candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2008 when he anchored the crease with a 1.97 GAA and .933 SV% in 20 playoff games.

Marc-Andre Fleury Vegas Golden Knights
Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Fleury recently passed Roberto Luongo on the all-time wins list with his 490th victory and is now in the top-three behind only Hall of Famers Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur. He is also on the cusp of entering the top ten in games played, currently just behind John Vanbiesbrouck. I think those facts alone, even without a Vezina on his resume should be enough to gain his passage to the Hall.

Henrik Lundqvist

Games played: 887 (2.43 career goals against average, .918 career save percentage)

Somehow, Lundqvist only has one Vezina Trophy to his credit. But like Chara, he has consistently been a strong contender since his rookie season in 2005-06. In fact, he has finished in the Top 10 in Vezina voting for the first 10 seasons in his career, seven times in the top five.

His teams have generally struggled in the playoffs, but it’s no fault of his. Compared to the regular season, Lundqvist’s GAA goes down and save percentage goes up in the playoffs. He just gets terribly little goal support from the team in front of him in the postseason. Internationally, he has Olympic gold and silver medals to bolster his resume.

Carey Price

Games played: 707 (2.50 career goals against average, .917 career save percentage)

Just like Lundqvist, Carey Price lacks a Stanley Cup on his resume. But the 2014-15 season gave him all the hardware he needs. Not only did he win the Vezina and the William Jennings Trophy, but he won the Hart Trophy as league MVP and the Lester B. Pearson Trophy (now the Ted Lindsay Award) as league MVP as voted by his peers.

Carey Price Montreal Canadiens
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He’s been in conversation for the Vezina and the Hart on numerous occasions, playing behind a fairly weak Montreal Canadiens team for the majority of his career. Add in gold medals at the 2007 World Juniors (where he was the best goaltender and tournament MVP), 2014 Winter Olympics (where he was the best goaltender, and the 2016 World Cup, and you’ve got yourself a Hall of Famer.

Goaltender Honourable Mentions: Sergei Bobrovsky, Tuukka Rask, and Jonathan Quick.

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