by PuckStopsHere on 04/16/09 at 01:59 AM ET
One question I try to answer is at what point in their careers, a player establishes himself as a Hall Of Famer. At what point does it no longer matter what he does or does not do for the rest of his career because he has done enough that he should make the Hall of Fame? This season I think Alexander Ovechkin got himself to that point.
Ovechkin is only 23 years old and most likely has the majority of his career ahead of him and yet he has already done more than most players will do in their lifetimes. In four seasons he has won the Hart Trophy once, the Art Ross Trophy once, the Richard Trophy twice, the Calder Trophy once, the Pearson Award once and he has made the First Team All Star at left wing three times. In this season the awards have not yet been presented, but he is a likely favorite for another Hart and Pearson Trophy as well as the First Team All Star. He is the most likely choice by fans as the best player in the game today. That is a Hall of Fame career in and of itself and it is probably only a portion of Ovechkin’s entire career.
Even if Ovechkin were to suddenly become a much weaker player for the rest of his career, these achievements are enough for Hall of Fame induction. It clearly would color the way he was looked at - as a great player gone awry - instead of as quite possibly the best left winger in the history of hockey.
The obvious question when adding Ovechkin to a list of Hall of Fame players is what about Sidney Crosby? They both entered the NHL together in 2005 and have been linked ever since. Crosby is clearly behind Ovechkin. Crosby has less career points scored. Crosby has significantly less career goals scored. Crosby has one less MVP calibre season (and in a couple months the word calibre will likely be dropped from that sentence). Crosby is only a one time First Team All Star and Ovechkin is a three (and soon four) timer. That makes a big difference - although part of the difference is that center is a more competitive position than left wing. In short, Sidney Crosby is about one MVP calibre season behind Ovechkin. He likely will make the Hall of Fame someday, but he hasn’t done enough to secure induction yet. Any reasonable projections of his career would suggest that point is coming in the not too distant future.
A player must be a real superstar to have had enough accomplishment to be a Hall of Famer in only four seasons and before age 24. Alexander Ovechkin is that good a player. He is well on his way to becoming one of the all time greatest players and very possibly the best left winger ever.
This leaves me with a sixteen player list of players who are active that I think belong in the Hall of Fame regardless of any future scenarios. They are:
Likely that list will shrink with some retirements this summer, but it may grow first depending upon how certain players perform in the playoffs.
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