MoneyHall: An analytical look at the Hall of Fame

Matt Pfeffer looks at the Hall of Fame through an analytical lens to see who has been snubbed and who should get into the Hall right away.
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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

By Matt Pfeffer There’s been some great work done in baseball on taking an analytical look at the Hall of Fame. Baseball sabermetrician Jay Jaffe invented a metric called JAWS that is an estimation of a baseball player’s Hall of Fame worthiness. JAWS takes a player’s peak years and overall career and averages the two. The idea is to balance the two things that are considered when evaluating a player for Hall of Fame induction: his career longevity and his greatness in his prime. I’ve created HOF+ to take a look at hockey players and their worthiness for Hockey Hall of Fame induction. It’s my attempt at taking an analytical look at what it takes to get into the Hall of Fame so I can try to identify which of today’s stars we can expect to show up in the Hall and some players who may have been overlooked in the past, but are worthy of enshrinement.
HOF+ is the average of Career+, a player’s value over his entire career relative to the median Hall of Fame standard, and Peak+, a player’s value over his three best consecutive years. To measure value, I used GVT (Goals Versus Threshold). GVT is a total value stat created by Tom Awad. It is an attempt to put a goal value on a player’s performance over the NHL threshold. Because it is the only stat that we can use historically to compare players across positions and generations (stats like goals and GAA fluctuate across generations with the changing dynamics of the sport), GVT is the best way of comparing a player’s true value. You can read more about GVT and its formula
at Hockey Prospectus. For my calculations I only included Hall of Famers and players whose careers started after 1940. Here’s a snapshot of every NHLer since 1940 and their position on the Hall of Fame contenders chart. Blue indicates HOF members while Red means there not yet in.
Players in the top right quadrant can be considered pretty surefire candidates. They have a Peak+ and Career+ of more than 100, meaning their longevity and peak are above the Hall of Fame median.
You can take a look at this and play around with data yourself by using the interactive chart I built here. In this article we’re going to look at the potential candidates for induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame using the analytical tools I created. To recap, the stats we’ll be using are:
Career+: a player’s total career value (in GVT) over the HOF median standard (100)
Peak+: A player’s three best consecutive seasons over the HOF median standard (100)
HOF+: The average of Career+ and Peak+. A player with a score of 100 can be said to have had an average Hall of Fame worthy career.
HOF Chances%: The percentage of players with his HOF+ or higher that have gotten into the Hall of Fame.

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Player Name

HOFCareer+

HOFPeak+

HOF+

HOF Chances

Dominik Hasek

193

253

346

100%

Jaromir Jagr

178

153

231

100%

Nicklas Lidstrom

173

119

192

100%

Roberto Luongo

108

183

191

100%

Martin Brodeur

140

151

190

100%

Teemu Selanne

144

130

174

100%

Sergei Fedorov

123

124

147

91%

Mike Modano

132

107

139

91%

Joe Thornton

111

123

134

89%

Jarome Iginla

110

123

133

87%

Alex Ovechkin

83

144

127

85%

Mark Recchi

124

98

122

85%

Patrik Elias

107

115

121

86%

Peter Forsberg

100

121

121

86%

Marian Hossa

110

111

121

86%

Daniel Alfredsson

114

106

119

86%

Tomas Vokoun

78

137

115

87%

Chris Pronger

107

104

111

82%

Pavel Datsyuk

88

115

103

81%

Henrik Lundqvist

60

141

101

79%

Sidney Crosby

73

125

98

78%

Evgeni Malkin

56

127

83

70%

Daniel Sedin

76

105

81

69%

These guys should probably all be considered shoo-ins, or very close to it. If they retired today, they’d all have about at least a 70 percent chance already. Only three of these players have a career that can be defined as below HOF average so far, but those three, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Daniel Sedin, can very likely be counted on to rack up the needed career numbers with their remaining time in the NHL. Six of these players – Hasek, Jagr, Lidstrom, Luongo, Brodeur and Selanne – are among such an elite class that nobody in the history of hockey has had a HOF+ as high and
not been inducted. These guys are the definition of a shoo-in. The biggest surprise on this list might be Tomas Vokoun. The netminder’s career numbers are 22 points below HOF average, but his peak was quietly fantastic. Vokoun’s peak was largely wasted playing for non-Stanley Cup contenders and his lack of honors (only two all-star appearances, no Vezinas) might lead to him being overlooked for the Hall of Fame. Vokoun’s HOF+ is 15 points better than the median Hall of Fame threshold for entry, and 87 percent of players with his career or better have been admitted in to the Hall. It is too early to tell, but it is likely Vokoun will join a long list of underappreciated goaltenders with outstanding peaks, a lack of longevity and the misfortune of playing in front of poor teams.

Player Name

HOFCareer+

HOFPeak+

HOF+

HOF Chances

Curtis Joseph

98

161

159

97%

J. Vanbiesbrouck

110

142

151

94%

Eric Lindros

99

135

134

91%

Phil Housley

139

95

134

89%

Rogie Vachon

80

153

133

87%

Chico Resch

81

148

129

86%

Pierre Turgeon

127

101

128

85%

Jeremy Roenick

113

102

115

85%

Sergei Zubov

111

104

115

84%

Theo Fleury

102

112

115

83%

Alexander Mogilny

102

111

114

82%

John LeClair

90

120

110

81%

Sean Burke

76

131

107

80%

Paul Kariya

90

111

101

80%

These guys all share a HOF+ over 100, meaning their careers were better than the median Hall of Fame career and that they have all been passed up in at least one induction class. Five of the 15 are goaltenders. It seems goalies have an uphill battle compared to their skater teammates. The elite performances these goalies have put up were likely not appreciated as much as they should have been. For one, many don’t give the same appreciation for elite goaltender statistics as they do for forwards. Wins and losses, obviously, are unsatisfactory, as is goals-against average for the same reason, but to a lesser degree. Save percentage is the most accurate stat of a goaltender’s performance, but it is so fluid with the changing play of the league that it is harder to accurately relate his save percentage among the all-time greats. Goalies will have a tougher time pointing to their stats in their Hall of Fame campaigns, but this shouldn’t take away from the fact that some of the all-time greatest NHL seasons belong to goaltenders - and guys such as Curtis Joseph, John Vanbiesbrouck, Rogie Vachon and Chico Resch were among the best hockey players on Earth at their peaks. Get these guys in the Hall.

Player Name

HOFCareer+

HOFPeak+

HOF+

HOF Chances

Gary Roberts

80

90

69

62%

Bill Guerin

78

89

67

62%

Steve Larmer

79

85

64

60%

Doug Weight

76

78

54

57%

Mike Vernon

42

86

28

40%

Chris Osgood

45

80

25

38%

G. Carbonneau

54

56

10

32%

C. Lemieux

49

55

4

28%

Sergei Makarov

28

63

-8

23%

Adam Foote

40

48

-12

21%

Kevin Lowe

40

46

-13

21%

These guys have all been tossed into the mix as potential Hall of Fame candidates, but none of them should be, especially in comparison to many of the more deserving non-Hall of Famers. Gary Roberts, Bill Guerin and Steve Larmer all have above a 60 percent chance of making it based on players similar to them inducted before, but with so many players with better careers and so few spots (only four players can be inducted a year) available, this group shouldn’t be holding their breath for the call.

Player Name

HOFCareer+

HOFPeak+

HOF+

HOF Chances

Keith Tkachuk

102

97

99

79%

Guy Hebert

61

138

98

78%

Markus Naslund

80

116

97

78%

Miikka Kiprusoff

52

144

97

78%

Bernie Nicholls

89

105

95

77%

Peter Bondra

93

101

94

76%

Sergei Gonchar

101

93

94

76%

Zigmund Palffy

82

112

94

76%

Pete Peeters

69

124

93

76%

Gary Suter

95

96

92

75%

Ken Hodge

74

117

91

74%

Daniel Bouchard

77

113

90

73%

Ron Hextall

60

128

88

73%

D. Andreychuk

102

85

87

72%

Rod Brind'Amour

99

88

87

72%

Steve Duchesne

95

92

86

71%

Milan Hejduk

78

106

84

71%

Pavol Demitra

81

102

83

71%

Rob Blake

92

90

83

70%

M. Schneider

98

85

83

70%

Dany Heatley

72

110

82

70%

Evgeni Nabokov

56

125

81

70%

Tom Barrasso

63

116

80

70%

These guys are on the bubble. They’re pacing around the arena corridor nervously waiting for their name to be called like it’s a minor hockey tryout. Similar players of their caliber
have gotten in, but there sure is a glut of these guys around and preciously few golden tickets. Many of these players, like Naslund, Kiprusoff and Palffy have the peak years that justify Hall of Fame inclusion, but their careers did not have the longevity to put up the big numbers selection committees will look for. Long-time stalwarts such as Dave Andreychuk, Rob Brind’Amour and Keith Tkachuk will be banking on the opposite. These guys approach average Hall of Fame standards and it’s possible they will sneak in on the fourth spot of a ballot, but there would be greater Hall of Fame injustices than any of them not being included.
CONCLUSION There are 34 players that have an HOF+ above 100, meaning they had above the Hockey Hall of Fame average for inductees who have not yet been inducted. Of them, only 13 are active NHLers. The Hockey Hall of Fame has some work to do if it wants to preserve the legacy of the league’s best players. Although GVT is not a perfect reflection of a player’s value (no statistic can be), it does a good enough job to get a basic approximation of a player’s career. According to these numbers, the Hockey Hall of Fame simply has not done a good enough job to enshrine the best players on a consistent basis. Many players, such as poor scoring HOF+ players such as Bob Gainey and Fern Flaman can point to attributes that add to their legacy beyond what statistics can quantify. That’s fine. But this kind of statistical analysis, using only pure value to his team to guide our way, tells us some surprising things that may not have been highlighted by being on a successful team or winning an award. I think what this analysis has told us most is if you look closely at the players who have been (statistically speaking) snubbed and those I’ve labelled overrated, you’ll see that Hall of Fame voters have been over-representing Stanley Cup and personal award winners. Hall of Fame voters, think about more than Stanley Cup rings and subjective personal honors and think about giving deserving Hall of Fame candidates such as Phil Housley, Sergei Zubov or Pierre Turgeon, a vote. You can use
this interactive graph to see how your favorite player stacks up here.
Data for this project has come courtesy of HockeyProspectus.com, Hockey-Reference.com. The visualization’s were built in Tableau.

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