Sakic and Shanahan, who combined for 1,281 goals and five Stanley Cup rings all won between 1996-2002, are expected to headline the Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2012, which will be announced in full Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET (live on NHL Network-U.S.). The induction ceremony will take place Nov. 12 at the historic building on the corner of Front and Yonge streets in Toronto.
Sakic and Shanahan were first-round picks in 1987 and retired after the 2008-09 season, so they have waited the required three years per the Hall's rules to be eligible for induction. Joining the two shoo-ins as first-time eligible candidates who could get a call from the Hall on Tuesday are Jeremy Roenick, Mats Sundin and Curtis Joseph.
Up to four players can be named for induction annually. Since a case can be made for all of them, we figured why not make it. Here goes:
TOP 5 FIRST-TIME ELIGIBLE CANDIDATES
This is an absolute no-brainer. Sakic, who now works in Colorado's front office, amassed 1,641 points in 1,378 NHL games spread across 20 seasons with one franchise. He started his career in Quebec and moved with the team to Colorado, where he helped the Avalanche win the Stanley Cup in 1996 and 2001.
Sakic won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1996 and the Hart Trophy, Lady Byng Trophy and Lester B. Pearson Award (now the Ted Lindsay Award) in 2001. On the international stage, he won gold at the 1988 World Juniors, 1994 World Championship, 2002 Olympics and 2004 World Cup.
He's the second no-brainer for the Class of 2012. Shanahan, who is now one of the most visible executives in hockey as the head of the NHL's Department of Player Safety, scored 656 goals and had 1,354 points in 1,524 games over 21 seasons. One of the premier power forwards to ever play the game, Shanahan played for the Devils, Blues, Whalers, Red Wings and Rangers before returning to New Jersey for his final season.
Shanahan won the Stanley Cup three times with the Red Wings (1997, 1998, 2002) and won Olympic gold with Team Canada in 2002. He is the only player in NHL history with more than 600 goals and 2,000 penalty minutes (2,489).
One of the top American-born forwards of all-time, Roenick scored 513 goals and amassed 1,216 points in 1,363 NHL games. During his career he became one of the most recognizable players for what he did on the ice and what he said off it.
Roenick started his career in Chicago then went to Phoenix, where he still lives. He played four seasons in Philadelphia before moving to Los Angeles for a season. He returned to Phoenix before capping his career with two seasons in San Jose. The knock on him is that he never won the Stanley Cup, but he reached the Final with the Blackhawks in 1992 and won a silver medal with Team USA at the 2002 Olympics.
The former Maple Leafs captain played 18 NHL seasons, including 13 in Toronto, and was a point-per-game player with 1,349 points in 1,346 games. Sundin, who never won the Cup, had 564 goals and 785 assists, including 420 goals and 567 assists for 987 points with the Maple Leafs. He holds the Toronto franchise records for most points, goals, power-play goals, shorthanded goals, game-winning goals and overtime goals.
Sundin started his career with Sakic in Quebec, but was traded to Toronto on June 28, 1994. He was captain of the Leafs from 1997-2008 before he left Toronto as a free agent and sat out half of the 2008-09 season before signing with Vancouver. Sundin played 41 games with the Canucks before retiring for good after the season. He captained Team Sweden to Olympic gold in 2006.
"CuJo" is fourth all-time in wins by a goalie with 454. The three goalies ahead of him are Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy and Ed Belfour -- a future member of the Hall of Fame and two who have already been inducted. Terry Sawchuk, who is fifth with 447 wins, is also in the Hall.
Joseph played 943 games over 19 seasons with St. Louis, Edmonton, Toronto, Detroit, Phoenix, Calgary and the Maple Leafs again. The knocks on Joseph are that he never won the Stanley Cup or the Vezina Trophy and never had a 40-win season. However, he did win 30 or more games seven times, which is tied for the fourth all-time with Jacques Plante, Ken Dryden and Dominik Hasek.
TOP 5 HOLDOVER CANDIDATES
After retiring due to post-concussion symptoms following the 2006-07 season, Lindros has been eligible for induction since 2010. He doesn't have as large a sample size as other candidates, but his numbers against most are more impressive considering he put up 865 points in 760 games, a point-per-game average of 1.138.
Until concussions got the better of him, Lindros was arguably the most dominant player in the game. Over his first eight seasons in the NHL, all with Philadelphia, Lindros had 659 points in 486 games (1.356 points per game). He won the Hart Trophy in the lockout-shortened season of 1994-95 with 70 points in 46 games and followed that with a career-high 115 points in the 1995-96 season.
Oates, who has been eligible since 2007, never won the Stanley Cup, but it's hard to find another knock against one of the best passers to play the game in the past 25 years. Oates dished out 1,079 assists and added 341 goals for 1,420 points in 1,337 career games with Detroit, St. Louis, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, Anaheim and Edmonton.
Oates teamed with Hall of Fame member Brett Hull in St. Louis to form one of the most lethal combinations in the game, but his best season came with the Bruins in 1992-93, when he had 45 goals and 97 assists for 142 points. All were career highs. He added 80 assists and 112 points in 1993-94. Even at 39 years old, Oates was still dishing it out -- he led the NHL with 64 assists in 2000-01.
HOCKEY HALL OF FAME
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When Glenn Anderson was inducted four years ago, Mark Messier mentioned how the next task was to get Lowe into the Hall of Fame. He is the last remaining member of the Oilers dynasty teams who could be in the Hall but is not. Lowe was one of the best blueliners on Edmonton's five Stanley Cup championship teams (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990). He also won the Cup with the Rangers in 1994.
Lowe was a seven-time All-Star and contributed 432 points and 1,498 penalty minutes in 1,254 NHL games. He added 58 points and 192 penalty minutes in 214 playoff games. He combined mobility and offense with astute defensive awareness to be a pillar on the back end for the dynastic Oilers.
Like Lindros, Bure doesn't have the longest resume, but his is still extremely worthy of consideration for the Hall. He played in 702 games over 12 seasons due to a career-ending knee injury, but he registered 779 points, including 437 goals. He averaged 36.7 goals per season. He scored 60 twice and nearly hit the mark twice more, with 58 goals in 1999-2000 and 59 the following season.
Bure never won the Stanley Cup, but he had 16 goals and 31 points in the Canucks' 1994 playoff run that ended with a Game 7 loss to the Rangers in the Stanley Cup Final. He played in only 15 more playoff games over his final nine seasons. He won the Calder Trophy in 1993 and the Rocket Richard Trophy in 2000 and 2001. Bure also led the NHL with 60 goals in 1993-94, but the Rocket Richard Trophy didn't exist until 1999.
Andreychuk is 14th all-time in the NHL with 640 goals. The top 10 are all already in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Nos. 11 and 12 are Jaromir Jagr and Teemu Selanne -- they're still playing. No. 13 is Shanahan.
Andreychuk added to his resume by winning the Stanley Cup as the Tampa Bay Lightning captain in 2004. He is fifth all-time in games played with 1,659, and his 1,338 points tie him for 28th all-time. Andreychuk is the League's all-time leader with 274 power-play goals.
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