If you followed the NHL this season, you were lucky enough to see some remarkable achievements by some of the players. Of these achievements, the career numbers are most impressive when you consider that all players would like to be front-and-center in the Hockey Hall of Fame when they retire. While the criteria for a Hall of Fame career is loosely defined, there are certain achievements that almost guarantee inclusion: 500 goals, 1000 points, 300 goaltending wins, 500 coaching wins, and multiple trophy wins. Of course, there are some other non-hockey factors that come into play as well, but I'm here today to look at significant milestones that some NHL players are approaching. If they hit these milestones, they could one day be looking at their face in bronze on the wall of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Thanks to a great article written by Jordan Shrifman from CBC Sports, there's a pretty comprehensive list of significant milestones for players. I, however, am only concerned with those that will garner Hall of Fame votes. Let's take a look at those players.
- Mark Recchi (Boston Bruins): The Wrecking Ball sits a mere 15 points away from 1500 career points. There's no doubt that the graybeard in Boston will score 15 points. It's just a question of who it is against, and where it will happen. Recchi has had a phenomenal career, and hitting this milestone should put him into Hall of Fame discussions once he's done with his career.
- Joe Thornton (San Jose Sharks): "Jumbo" Joe is looking at a few hallmark moments this season. First, he can hit the magical 1000-point mark with his 69th point in this upcoming season. 15 more goals will give him 300 for his career, and 66 assists will put Thornton up to 700 career helpers. Of course, a big playoff year will also help, but Thornton is carving out a very impressive career with his totals thus far.
- Alexei Kovalev (Ottawa Senators): The flashy Russian playmaker is a mere ten points from 1000 career points. There's no doubting his talent, and he's just 22 assists away from 600 in his career. He does have one Stanley Cup to his name, but to deny Kovalev's talent in terms of being in Hall of Fame discussions is simply wrong.
- Daniel Alfredsson (Ottawa Senators): The longest-serving Senator could give Ottawa fans more to cheer about this season. Alfredsson is just eight points from 1000 career points, and he sits 25 goals from 400 in his career. Both marks are definitely achievable for the Swedish star, and Alfredsson could be the first modern Ottawa Senator inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame with those numbers.
- Jarome Iginla (Calgary Flames): Iginla is looking for another big season, and it could produce several milestones. Iginla needs 59 goals for 500 goals in his career, and it would probably set him up for the Richard Trophy this season if he can pull that feat off. If he can pick up 21 helpers, Iginla will have his 500th assist in his career. If you do the math, Iginla is 80 points from hitting the 1000-point plateau. With all of his NHL and international success, it appears that Iginla may be a lock for the Hall of Fame when all is said and done.
- Sergei Gonchar (Ottawa Senators): The third Senator on this list will also be looking to hit some major milestones this season. Gonchar is 16 points away from 700 in his career. If he adds 18 assists, he'll hit the 500-assist plateau. Eight additional powerplay goals will roll him over 100 goals with the man-advantage. Gonchar is the highest-scoring, Russian-born defenceman in the NHL right now, and, with one Stanley Cup ring on his finger, it appears he could make a good case for being added to the Hall of Fame.
- Chris Osgood (Detroit Red Wings): For one of the most underrated Stanley Cup Champions of all-time, Osgood is approaching a major mark in this upcoming season. With four more wins, Osgood will record his 400th NHL victory, and eight more will more Osgood past Grant Fuhr into ninth-place on the all-time NHL wins list. Twelve more will vault him one spot higher past Glenn Hall. That's some pretty elite company for Osgood, and he certainly deserves some thought when it comes to a Hall of Fame spot.
- Roberto Luongo (Vancouver Canucks): Luongo will need a big season, but his milestone is not out of reach whatsoever. 30 wins will move Luongo into the 300-win club in the NHL, and that's completely achievable this season. Is he Hall of Fame worthy? He still has a long career ahead of him in terms of writing those pages in history.
- Ron Wilson (Toronto Maple Leafs): Coach Wilson is a mere 18 wins from 600 in his NHL coaching career, and there's optimism that the Leafs will win that many games this season! I joke, of course, but Wilson's had a spectacular coaching career, and there will be some discussion once he hangs up the whistle as to whether his career was good enough to get him in the Hall of Fame.
- Jacques Martin (Montreal Canadiens): It might be a stretch to suggest that the 2010-11 Canadiens can pull off 44 wins, but Martin usually has his troops ready. 44 wins will move Martin into the 600-win range. How cool would it be if he pulled it off at the Heritage Classic game? It's pretty unreasonable to suggest that, but it would be cool!
- Lindy Ruff (Buffalo Sabres): Ruff is a fixture in Buffalo behind the bench, and he'll roll over the 500-win mark with 17 victories this season. Ruff has suffered through some rough seasons (excuse the pun), but there's doubt that he gets the most out of his players each and every night.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!