by PuckStopsHere on 12/09/11 at 05:30 PM ET
One longterm question that I like to think about is which current NHL players will make the Hockey Hall of Fame and at which point in their career have they cemented that honor regardless of what happens in the remainder of their career. I think Daniel Alfredsson has recently surpassed this threshold.
Alfredsson is the first line right winger with the Ottawa Senators. He currently has a respectable 16 points in 23 games played at age 38 (two days before his 39th birthday). He is a good player well past his prime years. If the All Star voting ended today, he would be voted a starter in the game this year. That is not to say that he is one of the best three forwards who would deserve that position based on his current play, but based upon nostalgia he is a compelling pick.
The 2012 All Star Game will be held in Ottawa and Daniel Alfredsson has been the best player in Ottawa Senator (the newer incarnation) history. He is their all time leader in seasons, games played, goals, assists and points. He has been their captain since 1999. He is the face of the franchise.
That alone does not guarantee he is a Hall of Famer. Some newer franchises have not produced any Hall of Fame calibre players. But Alfredsson has a strong case. He has 1039 career regular season points. This places him 64th all time in career points. This places him ahead of contemporary players such as Jarome Iginla and Joe Thornton (who are both future Hal of Famers) in career points. He has fewer games than Iginla. Alfredsson has been a near point per game player over the course of his career. He has 1079 career regular season games. He did this in the low scoring “dead puck” era. He did this despite losing a season in the prime of his career (the year before his career best 103 point year) to a lockout. He did this despite a late start in his NHL career. Alfredsson turned 23 in his rookie season. He did this despite several injuries that kept him out of three of his first NHL seasons. If Alfredsson has his career to do over, he likely would have a higher career point total. Despite that, he is climbing in the top scorers of all time.
Alfredsson won Olympic gold in the 2006 Winter Olympics. He was Calder Trophy winner as rookie of the year back in 1995/96. In 2005/06 he made the second team All Star. In the 2006/07 season when Ottawa made the Stanley Cup finals, Alfredsson led the NHL in goals and points. He would likely have won the Conn Smythe Trophy had Ottawa won the Stanley Cup. Alfredsson has also been considered a contender for the Lady Byng and Selke Trophies in various years of his career. His defensive play makes him more valuable than his point totals suggested in many years of his career.
Alfredsson has a relatively low number of individual awards for a Hall of Famer, but many Hall of Famers have similar award resumes or even fewer awards to show for their careers. Alfredsson played the majority of his career as a right winger, though in some periods he played center. It is reasonable to think that most right wingers who are Hall of Famers should have more post-season All Star berths. Among active players, Jaromir Jagr, Jarome Iginla, Teemu Selanne and Martin St Louis (future Hall of Famers all) are the only people with multiple All Star berths (they all have at least four in their careers). Alfredsson has several years where he was among the top couple of right wingers who did not on the All Star teams. He has the career numbers to show for that he was a dominant player for a long period of time, although he was usually just behind the most dominant players in his position.
Daniel Alfredsson is the face of the Ottawa Senator franchise. He has moved beyond 1000 career points in a situation where he would likely have had more points were it not for playing in a low scoring era. A lockout occurred in the prime of his career. He was a late starter in his NHL career and took several years to be healthy enough to regularly play a full season. That makes him a Hall of Fame player. It would be a very nice story if he is voted a starter in the 2012 All Star Game, but with or without that honor he should make the Hall of Fame. The fact that a compelling nostalgia case for Alfredsson can be made shows how valuable he has been to the Ottawa Senator franchise and that is evidence of a Hall of Fame career.
With Alfredsson’s addition to my active Hall of Fame player list, we are up to 14 players. Here they are:
Martin St Louis
As hockey continues to be played this season, I expect the list may grow. It also may shrink with retirements. Dominik Hasek is the top contender to retire. He is officially not retired, though he is taking the season off. That may be a prelude to a retirement.
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