When we last looked at the development of the Inductinator, we saw that All-Star Team selections were an important predictor for Hall of Fame induction. Over the summer, the Inductinator has been developed and refined to incorporate the results of the 2010 Hall of Fame selections, and it's ready to be rolled out. You might recall that Dino Ciccarelli was the only NHL player going into the Hall this year. That was something of a relief; let me tell you, it was not easy to build a stats-based Hall of Fame predictor that ended up with a 600-goal man not making the list. It was possible, but now fewer contortions are needed in the system.
The Inductinator does not only predict whether a player will be inducted into the Hall of Fame (no percentage chances, just a simple yes or no), it also estimates the number of years the player will have to wait before being honored. Players are eligible for the Hall after having been retired for three years, so if a player who retired in 2010 is estimated to have a 2-year wait before being inducted, he is expected to be honored in 2015.
Remember that the Inductinator is not intended to determine who should be in the the Hall, but rather who will be inducted, based on statistical standards inferred from previous Hall of Fame inductions, looking at modern players only. We'll look at defensemen this week, forwards next week, and we'll finish off with the goaltenders and a summary. For each group of players, an Inductinator score of at least 100 means the player should be expected to get into the Hall of Fame. The higher the score, the shorter the wait. It should be noted that while 100 is the cutoff for all positions, the three groups (forwards, defensemen, and goalies) don't really use the same scale. A forward with a score of 200 is not necessarily the same thing as a defenseman with the same rating.
Among modern defensemen, we have 14 Hall-of-Famers. They are:
Bobby Orr (1979) Larry Robinson (1995) Larry Murphy (2004)
Serge Savard (1986) Borje Salming (1996) Al MacInnis (2007)
Brad Park (1988) Rod Langway (2002) Scott Stevens (2007)
Denis Potvin (1991) Ray Bourque (2004) Brian Leetch (2009)
Guy Lapointe (1993) Paul Coffey (2004)
One interesting note here is that all but three of these players were inducted in their very first year of eligibility. The exceptions are Salming (who waited three years), and Langway and Lapointe (who both waited six years).
We already know that All-Star Team selections are very important when determining Hall of Fame induction. For defensemen, it should not surprise you that Norris Trophy wins are also extremely important, especially for players with multiple awards. There are no modern blueliners with two or more Norris wins who are not in the Hall; this is what earned Langway his honor, according to the system. On the other hand, Randy Carlyle and Doug Wilson both won a single Norris and have both been eligible for the Hall for 14 years, but are not in. So multiple wins is clearly the key.
Every modern defenseman to have won the Conn Smythe (Robinson, MacInnis, Leetch, Stevens, Savard and Orr, who won twice) is in the Hall as well, so this award gives a bunch of Hall credit by itself. The Hart is probably important, though it's difficult to say how important, since only one eligible modern defenseman has ever won it (Bobby Orr, three times), and that man would be in the Hall regardless. Chris Pronger is the only other modern defenseman to win that prestigious award, so when he retires the Inductinator will be put to the test in this department. Adjustments may have to be made.
Stanley Cup wins are another fairly important factor. The way the system sees it, if Guy Lapointe did not win six Cups with the Habs, he would not be in the Hall; even one less would put him just on the other side of the magical 100 line. But Cup wins are not enough by themselves to guarantee induction; ex-Oilers Kevin Lowe and Charlie Huddy had six and five Cups respectively, and they're not in. It's the combination of factors, which includes other things such as career games, career playoff games and career points, which predict a Hall-of-Famer.
You might wonder about the near misses, that is the players who you might think would meet Hall of Fame standards but who are not in. The Inductinator sees Doug Wilson as the closest to meeting Hall standards, with a score of 89. Aside from his aforementioned Norris Trophy, he made three All-Star Teams and had a very good numbers of career points. However, he played just over 1,000 games, which is fairly low for a Hall-of-Fame defenseman, as is his total of 95 playoff games. His single Norris win was not enough to lift him into the Hall.
After Wilson, the standard drops significantly. Phil Housley comes in with a score of 74, despite a career point total bested by only three honored defensemen. He's only been eligible for four years, so his future induction remains a possibility. But the system does not believe he meets the implicit standards of the Hall. He played only 85 career playoff games and made only a single All-Star Team. The only things he has going for him are a very long career and a pile of points, which by themselves are not enough to earn passage to the Hall. Kevin Lowe ranks about the same as Housley, but builds his case almost solely on his six Cup wins and over 200 playoff games, but those are not enough either. No one else is really close:
Player Eligible Score
Doug Wilson 1996 89
Phil Housley 2006 75
Kevin Lowe 2001 74
Charlie Huddy 2000 57
Randy Carlyle 1996 52
Eric Desjardins 2009 42
Gary Suter 2005 41
Now we get to the interesting stuff: which recently-retired or active defensemen can be expected to be inducted into the Hall of Fame? That's the entire point of the system, after all, to predict these things.
Nicklas Lidstrom is a dead-set given, of course. The Inductinator sees him as being behind only Ray Bourque and Bobby Orr in Hall of Fame credentials, as of the end of the 2009-10 season. He'll be in the first year he's eligible. Chris Chelios and Scott Niedermayer, both eligible in 2013, are also considered locks to go in in their first year of eligibility. Chris Pronger should also make the Hall three years after his retirement. The only other current player to meet Inductinator standards is Rob Blake; however, he will likely have to wait between three and six years before receiving the honor.
Player Eligible Score Expected Year
Nicklas Lidstrom active 603 First eligible
Chris Chelios 2013 362 2013
Scott Niedermayer 2013 201 2013
Chris Pronger active 151 First eligible
Rob Blake 2013 113 2016-2019
Zdeno Chara active 74 Not applicable
Sergei Zubov active 51 Not applicable
Chara is the only other active player who has any real shot at the Hall, at this point. His score sits at 74, and he needs to get to 100. If we assume that he wins no more awards and no Stanley Cups, but produces at his recent pace (80 regular-season games, scoring 10 goals and 40 points per year, plus 10 playoff games), it will take him six more such seasons before reaching the target. It's rather unlikely that a 38-year-old defenseman can put up such numbers, so unless Big Z can garner another All-Star Team selection or a few Stanley Cup wins, his chances seem pretty slim. With younger blueliners like Duncan Keith, Drew Doughty and Mike Green rising quickly, it's difficult for an old-timer like him to crack the awards again.