Amalie Benjamin, staff writer
For the past six seasons, I've watched every game -- and just about every practice -- of the Boston Bruins, not to mention their games before I started covering them on a regular basis. I've seen the peak of the careers of forward Patrice Bergeron and defenseman Zdeno Chara. I've seen the rise of forward Brad Marchand and the making of forward David Pastrnak. I've also been vocal about the kind of player goalie Tuukka Rask is and has been, through two unbelievable runs to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013 and 2019 (combined 1.95 goals-against average, .937 save percentage), though each resulted in a loss. Bergeron, Chara, Marchand and Rask (as a backup) already have Cup rings from 2011, and there could be more in their future, plus a first for Pastrnak. All five could also end up celebrating something else together one day: induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Video: BOS@NJD: Pastrnak nets one-timer off Marchand's pass
Tim Campbell, staff writer
The Chicago Blackhawks logo will be seen frequently at the Hockey Hall of Fame ceremonies after defenseman Duncan Keith and forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane retire. Each has won the Stanley Cup three times (2010, 2013, 2015). In addition, Keith has been voted the Norris Trophy winner twice (2010, 2014) as the NHL's best defenseman, and voted the Conn Smythe Trophy winner (2015) as MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Toews won the Conn Smythe (2010), was voted the Selke Trophy winner as the NHL's best defensive forward (2013) and won the Mark Messier Leadership Award (2015). Kane, who is averaging 1.05 points per game for his 13-season NHL career and is leading the Blackhawks in scoring again this season with 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists), was voted the Calder Trophy winner as rookie of the year (2008), won the Conn Smythe (2013), and in 2016 was voted the Hart Trophy winner as League MVP, the Ted Lindsay Award for most outstanding player as selected by the players, and won the Art Ross Trophy as scoring champion. There will be debate elsewhere regarding other candidates and teams. Not here.
Video: BUF@CHI: Kane whips shot by Hutton for a PPG
Nick Cotsonika, columnist
I have a high bar for the Hall of Fame, and so I have a high bar for speculating about it. I'm going with what I know. When the list of 100 Greatest NHL Players was unveiled as part of the League's centennial celebration in 2017, the Blackhawks had three: Keith, Toews and Kane. In addition to their accomplishments mentioned above, Kane is the only United States-born player to win the Hart and Art Ross trophies. Tough to beat.
Tom Gulitti, staff writer
I also was going to go with the Blackhawks, but to be different I will pick the Pittsburgh Penguins. I've got a head start because general manager Jim Rutherford was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday. With centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, each a three-time Stanley Cup winner (2009, 2016, 2017), locks to make it too, that would be at least three Hall of Famers from Pittsburgh. Crosby has won the Hart (2007, 2014), Art Ross (2007, 2014), the Maurice Richard Trophy for most goals (2010, 2017) and the Conn Smythe Trophy (2016, 2017) twice each, and the Lindsay Award three times (2007, 2013, 2014). Malkin won the Calder in 2007, the Hart and the Lindsay Award in 2012, and the Conn Smythe in 2009 as well as winning the Art Ross twice (2009, 2012). Other potential Penguins Hall of Fame candidates include Kris Letang, another three-time Cup winner whose 505 points (116 goals, 389 assists) since entering the NHL in 2006-07 rank eighth among defensemen during that span; Matt Murray, the only goalie to win the Cup twice as a rookie (2016, 2017); and Mike Sullivan, the only coach to win the Cup in back-to-back seasons in the NHL salary cap era.
Video: TOR@PIT: Malkin snaps transition goal between circles
Pete Jensen, senior fantasy editor
I thought someone might have mentioned the San Jose Sharks in this conversation by now. The fact that nobody has is likely because none of their candidates has won the Stanley Cup. They have two elite defensemen and Norris Trophy winners, Erik Karlsson (2012, 2015) and Brent Burns (2017), who are locks for the Hall based on their consistent success at the top of their position. San Jose also has two of the best active players in terms of scoring and longevity in veteran forwards Joe Thornton (1,484 points in 22 NHL seasons) and Patrick Marleau (1,185 points in 22 NHL seasons). Next is the newer wave of forward talent that has already had its share of playoff heroics, centers Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl. And you also can't count out promising forward Timo Meier, well-rounded defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic or general manager Doug Wilson, who has held that title since 2003; the Sharks have reached the playoffs in all but one of his 15 seasons.
Mike G. Morreale, staff writer
I think I'm going to stick with what I know for sure, and what I know is it's just a matter of time before Kane, Toews, and Keith are inducted into the Hall of Fame. Kane will conclude his NHL career as one the best United States-born forwards. Toews played a significant role in the Cup titles as captain and as one of the most dominant two-way centers in the game. Keith has been an absolute beast along the blue line with 589 points (99 goals, 490 assists) points in 1,096 NHL games.
Tracey Myers, staff writer
I'm also going with the Blackhawks. First, I'm disappointed that I can't include forward Marian Hossa, who quit hockey after the 2016-17 season because of a skin condition, in this discussion. Anyway, from the current team, start with Kane and Keith. Kane's production has been steady, and with 924 points (367 goals, 599 assists), he is approaching 1,000 for his NHL career. Keith is averaging 24:41 of ice time per game. Toews' production has been up and down the past few seasons, but there's no denying how critical he was to those Stanley Cup runs. And I know he's an unlikely pick, especially with concussions costing him a lot of games the past two seasons, but I'd give goalie Corey Crawford consideration. His goals-against average is 2.43 for his NHL career, and he was great in the last two Cup runs (1.84 GAA in the 2013 playoffs, 2.31 GAA in the 2015 playoffs).
Rob Reese, fantasy editor
I know their recent record doesn't scream "Hall of Fame," but current state of the Toronto Maple Leafs aside, forwards John Tavares, Auston Matthews and Mitchell Marner, and defenseman Morgan Rielly each could make a strong case to be inducted someday. For Tavares and Matthews, there's no explanation needed. Marner has game-breaking ability and should continue to put up 80- to 90-point seasons for the remainder of his NHL career. For Rielly, it took him a few years to let his two-way game show, but he looks to have solidified himself as an offensive defenseman who can consistently put up 70 points each season. Add a Stanley Cup championship or two their resumes, and it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility for goalie Frederik Andersen and forward William Nylander to get outside consideration for the Hall. It's fun to look at young teams and project their future, and I think it's safe to say Toronto has the most potential Hall of Fame talent of the bunch.
Video: BOS@TOR: Matthews nets goal off redirection
Dan Rosen, senior writer
I found myself looking for potential rather than locks for this exercise. It's hard to predict on potential, but it's hard to argue with what could happen with the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have forwards Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point, defenseman Victor Hedman, and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. And to go deeper, is it so far-fetched to think that Anthony Cirelli could become the Guy Carbonneau of the Lightning, an almost-sure Selke candidate eventually, who, if he wins that trophy and the Cup multiple times, could find his way into the Hall of Fame too?
It surely seems like a reach now, but each one of these players is individually trending in the right direction. At least one Stanley Cup championship wouldn't hurt. And if this group does win one, wouldn't that make Jon Cooper a Hall of Fame candidate in the Builders category, if you factor in how much he won at the various levels he has coached? Cooper won championships in the North American Hockey League, the United States Hockey League and the American Hockey League before arriving in the NHL with the Lightning in 2013.
Dave Stubbs, columnist
No team has yet to touch the 1971 Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadiens, who had a ridiculous 10 players elected to the Hall of Fame, though the 2002 Detroit Red Wings will pull even with the eventual election of center Pavel Datsyuk. For this exercise, I like the chances of at least a few players on the Bruins to eventually never again have to pay admission to the shrine. Equal parts silk and sandpaper, four-time Selke winner Bergeron is a lock. Also guaranteed election is Chara, who from Front Street will be able to look his second-floor Hall of Fame window portrait in the eye. A wild card might be Rask. Too early to say about Pastrnak, but he's trending in the right direction. And just because his induction speech could be one for the ages, let's throw Marchand into the mix.
Mike Zeisberger, staff writer
The stinging disappointment of being swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference First Round last season should not cloud the fact that the Lightning have the most raw talent of any team in the NHL. There is the potential for five Lightning players to make the Hall of Fame. Stamkos has 400 goals and doesn't turn 30 until Feb. 7. Hedman, 28, is averaging 0.61 points per game in his NHL career and won the Norris Trophy in 2018. Kucherov is averaging 1.03 points per game for his NHL career, and the 26-year-old was the best player in hockey in last season, winning the Hart Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award and Art Ross Trophy after finishing with 128 points (41 goals, 87 assists). Those three appear to be good bets.
Vasilevskiy has a limited body of work but is only 25, has an NHL record of 131-64-15 and was voted the Vezina Trophy winner last season as the League's best goalie. The wild card for me as the possible fifth member of the group is Point. There are games when you can't take your eyes off him, which is quite the accomplishment when you're surrounded by talent like this. The scary part here: He's only 23 and has yet to scratch the surface of his potential.