By Chris Gere
The 2019–20 Boston Bruins finished the COVID-shortened regular season with the best record in the NHL. The roster is flush with undeniably talented players, some of whom will be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame. We know the names. Zdeno Chara is a near lock, while Patrice Bergeron will go down as perhaps the best two-way center of his generation, but who else on this team might be good enough, and what would it take for them to make it? As famous Hollywood film actor Kevin Garnett once said, “Anything is possible,” so we’re going to examine the case for every Bruin who played at least 20 games this season (and Ondrej Kase because we love Ondrej Kase).
1. Zdeno Chara 99%
The only way this guy doesn’t get into the Hall is if it no longer exists by the time he retires. I give that a one-percent chance considering Chara could decide to play for the rest of his life, and he’s on pace to live for… maybe ever? When it comes to surviving an apocalypse, between Big Z and the Hockey Hall of Fame, I give the edge to Z.
2. Patrice Bergeron 97%
We’ve heard it again and again to the point where it’s almost become tired—as a defensive forward, he’s world-class. Four Selke Trophies speak for themselves, and he’s been a finalist for the award every year since 2011–12, but throw in that his offensive game has continued to develop late into his career… well, that’ll leave a good taste in the mouths of voters. He’s currently 13th and 15th respectively in points and goals among active players and should easily surpass the 1000-point mark with just two more productive seasons. I’d be shocked if he didn’t plan to play longer than that.
3. David Pastrnak 87%
This may seem high, and I’m knocking on wood as I type this, but health is the only question for me. He just turned 24 years old, and he’s already one of the five best forwards in the world. He’s not prime Alex Ovechkin, but he’s the closest thing we’ve had since Steven Stamkos was putting up 60 goals. It has been and will continue to be excellent to watch Pasta chase Ovi for Rocket Richard trophies while Ovi chases Gretzky on the all-time goal-scoring list. I’ve also theorized that having a great nickname vastly improves a Hall of Fame resume, and what makes for a better moniker than a top-tier food like “Pasta?”
4. Tuukka Rask 72%
Many people are going to have an issue with this, but the numbers don’t lie. Rask’s career .922 save percentage lands him at third in NHL history, while his .927 career playoff save percentage lands him in ninth—third among goalies who have played at least 50 playoff games (Rask has played 89 at the time of publishing). If he wins a Stanley Cup as the primary goaltender, his ticket is punched. If not, Rask has a Vezina and a Jennings, and he’s three to four years from 400 wins (a dumb stat, but voters care about that). Henrik Lundqvist will likely enter the Hall a few years before Tuukka is eligible, and if he does so without winning a Cup, it will be hard to deny Rask no matter what Joe Haggerty says.
5. Brad Marchand 45%
To say that Marchy hasn’t adhered to the typical ageing curve would be an understatement. He began his career as a useful depth player, a 20–25 goal scorer. At the age of 27, he announced himself as an elite sniper when he blew past the 30-goal mark and tallied 37. In the following two seasons, he maintained his goal-scoring touch while elevating himself to a true point-per-game player. Then, over the next two seasons, he became a 100-point player, garnering Hart Trophy votes. If he wants to make the Hall of Fame, he’ll have to continue to Benjamin Button his career a bit. It also doesn’t help that most of the voters despise him, so his case will have to be ironclad.
6. Charlie McAvoy 42%
The path to the Hall of Fame for our buddy Chuck is to develop his offensive game to the point where he can win Norris Trophies. He’ll never put up numbers like Brent Burns or Erik Karlsson, but his defensive game is so strong that he won’t have to. If he can develop into a consistent 50–60 point player who terrorizes opponents in his own defensive zone, he’s got a shot at the Hall. A 42% chance seems high, but it’s easy to forget that he hasn’t yet been a fixture on the power play, which greatly benefitted Torey Krug.
7. Torey Krug 7%
Speaking of Krug, he’s been one of the top scoring defensemen in the league since he debuted in the 2013 playoffs. He’s a tremendously valuable player, but it’s hard to imagine a 50-point-per-season defenseman with an underrated, though clearly limited, defensive game finding his way into the Hall. I give him a 7% chance because he’s the only Torey in NHL history (apologies to Torrey Mitchell and Torrie Robinson). That has to count for something.
8. Ondrej Kase 5%
Having seen Ondrej Kase play in San Diego, I have a tremendous affinity for him, so I genuinely wish for the (if we’re honest, pretty generous) one-in-twenty outcome where he teams up with Krejci and Pastrnak to form “The Czeching Line.” Pasta and Kase will retire as Bruins after outlasting and outscoring their fellow countryman Jaromir Jagr to take the mantle as the top Czech players ever to play the game.
9. Brandon Carlo 4%
The hockey world is just starting to appreciate players like Carlo. He’s not a good scorer, and he doesn’t do much more in the offensive zone than keep the puck in, but calling him a “defensive defenseman” is a tremendous disservice. He’s solid at denying opportunities, but he really excels in transitioning from the defensive zone up the ice. Unfortunately, there isn’t a decades-old list of league-leaders in that, so he’ll have to be a top-pairing shutdown guy on three or four cup teams to get Hall of Fame consideration.
10. Jake DeBrusk 4%
There’s room for a Marchand-ian glow-up here, I suppose. He won’t have to contend with voters who don’t like pests since Jakey is by all accounts adorable and likable, but he’s going to have to hit the gas pretty soon. Most players don’t age like Marchy.
11. David Krejci 3%
Krejci is such a good player and an incredible teammate. While Bergeron has been allowed to flourish in the back-nine of his career, Krejci has been asked to carry and develop a bunch of young wingers on the second line. Krejci is nowhere near the defensive player or the goal-scorer that Bergeron is, but he’d surely have gotten a lot more glory if he had been able to play with Marchand and Pastrnak. He doesn’t have a ton of time left, and he has a ton of ground to make up. I’d say his best shot at a spot is captaining the Czech Olympic team to a surprise gold medal, then winning a couple more Cups while maintaining health and relevance as his age advances more slowly than expected.
12. Charlie Coyle 3%
After five Stanley Cups and revolutionizing the way NHL teams are built, Boston Bruins GM Charles Coyle punches his ticket as a Hall of Fame builder. Zdeno Chara is still the captain when he retires.
13. Matt Grzelcyk 3%
Boston University Head Coach Matt Grzelcyk is inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame after 45 seasons and six NCAA Championships. Take that, Jerry York!
14. Anders Bjork 2%
I think there’s a non-zero chance that Anders Bjork becomes the first NHL player to play every position on the ice in one game. That would be cool.
15. Jaroslav Halak 1%
Best Slovak goalie in NHL history. Need I say more?
16. Karson Kuhlman 0.5%
Hall of fame alliterative name, am I right? Seriously though, this guy is Frank Vatrano 2.0 (no disrespect to Vatrano; we love our homegrown UMass boy).
17. John Moore 0.0001%
The year is 2043. John Moore is 52 years old has just completed his 33rd season, the last 25 of which were spent as a 7th defenseman. As a frequent trade-deadline throw-in, he has now played for all 34 current NHL teams as well as the now-defunct Quebec City Quest, Houston Antelopes, Memphis Marauders, Hamilton Hotpies, and the Cheyenne Ted. First ballot.