In 2010, Iain Fyffe built the Inductinator, an attempt to estimate the chances a player makes the Hockey Hall of Fame. Using traditional statistics, Fyffe tried to find a model for predicting what sort of standards the Hall of Fame has for induction. Now, I am introducing a new Hockey Hall of Fame stat: HOF+. Unlike the Inductinator, HOF+ is an attempt to measure the credibility, rather than the probability of a player's Hall of Fame candidacy. It is an average of a players Peak (his best three consecutive seasons) and his Career totals, both numbers relative to the Hall of Fame median. These numbers are calculated using Hockey Prospectus' own GVT stat, a measure of a player's value above threshold in goals. Averaging these two numbers is to try to conglomerate the two elements that selection committees will consider when looking at a player's statistics: his excellence in his prime, and his longevity. An additional stat, HOF Chances, is the percentage of players eligible for induction who have a HOF+ of his or higher who have previously been inducted. Anyone with a HOF+ of Curtis Joseph's 129 or higher will have a 100% HOF Chance, as no NHLer with a HOF+ higher than that has ever not been inducted.
HOF+ = (Peak+(Avg GVT of three consecutive best seasons/HOF Peak median) +
Career+(Cumulative career GVT / HOF Career median)) / 2
The combined HOF+ of the three NHLers inducted this year was 110.3, by Hall of Fame standards, an above-average class. These numbers first appeared as an article on the Hall of Fame for the Hockey News, and based on them, I am going to make my 2014 Hall of Fame ballot. If I could induct more than four players, I would, as there are plenty of deserving candidates (and more on the way all the time) still not honored. Here are my 2014 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees:
Dominik Hasek Is the definition of a Hall of Famer. He had the greatest peak of any goaltender in hockey history, and his career numbers almost rival that impressive standard. Hasek almost breaks my statistic, coming in at a 223 HOF+. A goalie's recognition for truly elite performances is sometimes underwhelming. This can largely be attributed to a lack of confidence in goaltending statistics. Based on any statistics you would like, however, Hasek's peak years were easily among the best in hockey. This is a no brainer no matter how you slice it.
Eric Lindros had one of the most outstanding peaks in hockey history. His best three years were a whopping 35% better than the median Hall of Fame peak. His off-ice issues, dabbles in goonery, and lack of longevity might linger in the mind of voters, but make no mistake: Eric Lindros was a special player, and as a player whose height of his powers matched some of the greatest names in hockey history, he deserves entry into the annals of hockey lore. The Hall of Fame's credibility will be hurt every year the induction committee passes Lindros by.
Modano has the distinction of having both a peak (107 Peak+) and longevity (132 Career+) above the median Hall of Fame standards. Both Mike's record for points by an American and his Stanley Cup ring will help his case, but even without them, Modano is a sure-thing Hall of Famer.
Two goalies inducted in one year? Hey, it's not my fault "CuJo" has been ignored by Hall of Fame committees for so long. Curtis Joseph's peak three years were more valuable than any three-year run put up by either Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby so far in their respective careers. Joseph is part of a long list of goaltenders neglected by the Hall of Fame for their lack of Stanley Cups, but his case is the most urgent. The Hall of Fame needs to get better at inducting the right goaltenders, and Joseph is a great place to start.
These players all, in my opinion, deserve a spot in the Hall, but with four excellent candidates ahead of them, they will have to wait at least another cycle. These honorable mentions all have a HOF+ over 100, meaning they all have the careers that were above the median standard for acceptance into the Hall of Fame.
On Induction Classes
Looking at the average HOF+ year to year (pictured above) does not hint at any glaring trends in the quality of players inducted. The weakest class of the new millennium thus far was 2002, where new Buffalo Sabre executive Pat Lafontaine (88 HOF+) and Grant Fuhr (71) were inducted. Wayne Gretzky's fast-tracked induction took place in 1999, where he was inducted in a class of one. On the other hand, it is almost inconceivable to think of a Hall of Fame induction class that will ever beat 1999 in average HOF+.
If the players I have put on my ballot were all inducted next year, the class would have an average HOF+ of 162, the highest of any average induction class besides the Year of Gretzky. The chances that these four are selected are very low, though, and for these guys to have careers above the Hall of Fame median means there have to be players that are slightly and sometimes significantly below median. If the Hall of Fame voters selected the most "efficient" (by HOF+) ballots from now on, there would be a golden age for the quality of players inducted into the Hall of Fame. But history tells us that objective standards of a player's career will only get us so far into the heads of those who actually vote. For every Curtis Joseph (129 HOF+), there is a Leo Boivin (40 HOF+).
If we are looking for something hopeful to see in the data, it might be the improving ceiling of Hall of Fame inductees. A logarithmic trendline shows that the worst player (by HOF+) inducted every year is getting better and better. Since 2010, the worst player in every draft class has had a Hall of Fame career above 85+, a perfectly respectable HOF+ score. Hockey historian Liam Maguire says "the Hall at least in respect to hockey has been mostly a political tool within the hockey community for fifty years" and "Only recently have they had to really pay closer attention to numbers."
Could Maguire's claim of increasing reliance on a player's statistics be the cause of the improving quality of Hall of Fame voting? Either way, we should expect the Hockey Hall of Fame, like everything else in hockey, to improve over time, and there is some evidence that that is the case. There are not that many complete aberrations in the Hockey Hall of Fame; the best eligible player who has not been inducted is Curtis Joseph. With many controversial but deserving candidates still unresolved (Fleury, Vanbiesbrouck, Lindros), the Hall of Fame's ability to select the objectively best hockey players will be tested. Hopefully, my HOF+ stat can give the hockey community some objective measure by which to consider a player's career, when more subjective arguments will be used to trump up a variety of candidates in the coming years.
My main suggestions to HHOF voters: Take a second look at some players from the 1990s that have missed out on induction (Fleury, Lindros, Turgeon), and start giving more respect to high-peak, weak-longevity goalies.
One more thing: I have built an app so that you can play with the HOF+ numbers yourself here.