A common pastime among NHL fans is to look at a particular player and judge their Hall of Fame worthiness. On occasion, the topic has arisen in places such as ILWT regarding the case of Patrik Elias, and whether or not he deserves such an honor (or what else he might need to accomplish in the NHL to earn induction).
As a simple refresher, this is where Elias' statistics lie after Sunday's tilt in Montreal:
1046 games, 363 goals - 537 assists - 900 points, plus-190, 100 PPG
162 playoff games, 45 goals - 80 assists - 125 points, 2 Stanley Cups
One of the arguments often raised in debating the case of a particular player are his numbers. There's a school of thought that meeting particular statistical milestones should be enough for a player.... and one example is that 1000 points for one's career should be sufficient. Assuming he stays healthy and reasonably productive and that he plays for a few more years, there's no reason to believe that Patrik Elias won't reach 400 goals and 1000 points. So is Elias a Hall of Fame player?
The jury is asked to examine another player with very similar numbers, "Player B".
Player B (age 38): 1244 games, 417 goals - 521 assists - 938 points, plus-81, 145 PPG
Player B: 122 playoff games, 32 goals - 41 assists - 73 points, 1 Stanley Cup
The regular season numbers are not incredibly different. Player B has the advantage of a little extra time on his hands. Player B has a high draft pick (1st round / 7th overall) and successfully made the jump to the NHL at the tender age of 18. Player B has been incredibly consistent over his career, even if the overall numbers seem less spectacular when viewed through the prism of his longevity and his per-season averages.
Let's set the raw numbers aside and look at a few other things. Let's look at the averages, or the peaks and valleys.
Patrik Elias has an "average" 82-game season that reads 28-42-70. Player B has an "average" 82-game season that reads 27-34-61. Advantage: Elias.
Patrik Elias has scored 16 or more goals in every full NHL season, including an illness-shortened 2005-2006 campaign. Player B has scored 15 or more goals 17 times in 18 seasons, and 10 goals in the remaining season. Advantage: Push.
Patrik Elias has four seasons of 30+ goals, and three more seasons of 25+ goals. Player B has three seasons of 30+ goals, and six more seasons of 25+ goals. Advantage: Push.
Patrik Elias has four seasons where he averaged 1.00 points-per-game or higher, and two other seasons where he just missed that mark. Player B has never averaged higher than 0.94 points-per-game over an entire season. Advantage: Elias.
Patrik Elias has been a productive playoff performer his entire career, playing for a franchise that has been a postseason mainstay. Player B hasn't had as many opportunities, nor with teams as skilled, and that is reflected in both his cumulative playoff numbers and his per-game postseason averages. Advantage: Elias.
Patrik Elias has led the NHL in plus-minus once, been selected to the NHL All-Star Game three separate times, named to the NHL All-Rookie team his freshman season, and named to the NHL's First All-Star Team once. Player B has been selected to the NHL All-Star Game twice and also was named to the NHL All-Rookie team during his freshman campaign. Advantage: Elias.
Patrik Elias has played his entire career for one team. Player B has played for six different franchises. This shouldn't really be a factor in Hall of Fame credentials, but players who spend their entire career with one team are often rated more highly by said team's fans.
Seems to be getting a little lopsided in favor of Elias, right? One thing Player B has that Patrik Elias does not is a "magical moment". Similar to playing for one franchise during one's entire career, a "moment" is something that shouldn't really impact one's Hall of Fame worthiness but often comes into consideration as a "tie-breaker" of sorts. Being in the right place at the right time can have a dramatic impact on how a particular player is perceived or remembered by fans. For example, Stephane Matteau might be little more than a footnote to Rangers' history had it not been for his two double-OT winners in the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals. Advantage: Player B.
I've never seen much Hall of Fame consideration given to Player B, even by fans of the teams for which he toiled. Heck, I don't consider Player B worthy of the Hall of Fame myself.... and when I saw a recounting of what he's accomplished in the NHL as of a few days ago, I was genuinely surprised at just how much he's done. At the same time, if the argument is going to be made that Patrik Elias is a borderline Hall of Fame player with the book yet to be closed on his career, shouldn't Player B also receive consideration for induction based on what he's achieved with his career not yet complete?
So who is Player B? Player B is Jason Arnott.