Thursday, January 04, 2007

I NOW Consider Mats Sundin A Hall of Famer

I keep track of players that are currently in the NHL who have had Hall of Fame careers. I like to try to pinpoint the time when thez reach a level of accomplishment where no future slump, injury, contreversy etc. can keep them from the Hall of Fame based upon their career to date (without any attempt to project into the future). The last player I thought accomplished this is Mike Modano. Here is a rough explanation of what standards I apply to these players. Today, I am adding Mats Sundin to my Hall of Fame list.

Like Mike Modano, Sindin scored his 1200th career point recently. Sundin now has 1205 career point (which ties him with Vincent Damphousse for 40th all time). In fact, he has passed Modano since Modano has suffered a groin injury. While 1200 points is impressive, it in itself is not a ticket to the Hall of Fame. I wouldn't consider Damphousse a Hall of Famer. There are two active players with more points than this in Mark Recchi and Pierre Turgeon who I do not consider Hall of Famers. It is necessary for a 1200 point player to be considered one of the better players in the game and in his position and to be extremely valuable to his team. Mats Sundin possesses these requirements. He is a two time NHL Second Team All Star (in 2002 and 2004). He has been a very valuable player internationally for Sweden. He made the Canada Cup All Star Team in 1991 and the World Cup All Star Team in 2004. He has represented Sweden in the last three Olympiads (successfully with 20 points in 16 games). Sundin has been a longtime Maple Leaf captain since 1997. He has led the Maple Leafs in scoring 10 times. He is the second highest all time scorer in Leaf history (behind Darryl Sittler). Despite having missed 7 games to injury so far this season, he leads the Maple Leafs in scoring.

Mats Sundin is a player that I consider a Hall of Famer regardless of what happens in the rest of his career. He is the fifteenth active player I consider worthy of this honor. Here is the list of such players:

Ed Belfour
Rob Blake
Martin Brodeur
Chris Chelios
Peter Forsberg
Dominik Hasek
Jaromir Jagr
Brian Leetch
Nicklas Lidstrom
Mike Modano
Scott Niedermayer
Chris Pronger
Joe Sakic
Brendan Shanahan
Mats Sundin

As more hockey is played this year, it is possible this list will grow. It is possible this list of active Hall of Famers might shrink if there are retirements (Brian Leetch looks like a candidate).

Agreed. Mats Sundin has been the player on the Leafs who has made his line- and teammates better, instead of achieving his success largely because of a superstar's accomplishments (as Mark Recchi has done).
Do you yet consider Teemu Selanne a Hall of Famer?

His career numbers compare very well with Sundin's (a few fewer points, and a few more goals despite playing in far fewer games), and season-for-season, has outperformed Sundin more often than not. His couple subpar years were a lot worse than Sundin's, but he's made up for it with higher-end years than Mats -- witness the more top-ten finishes in goals and points to Sundin and the two First Team and two Second Team All-Stars compared to Mats' Two Second Team selections.
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