Drafted 171st overall in the 6th round of the 1998 NHL entry draft, Pavel Datsyuk has progressed from being a small kid out of Russia to a world-renown superstar to now a Hall of Fame candidate whenever he decides to hang up his skates.
As the legacy of the Magic Man continues to engrave its place into Hockeytown history, here are 5 reasons why Pavel Datsyuk will eventually join Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Steve Yzerman, and all the other Detroit Red Wings greats in NHL Hall of Fame.
5. Unrivaled Awards and Achievements
Let’s start off with the facts through the 2013-14 season.
Pavel Datsyuk is only a 4-time all-star but is considered by his peers as one of the best two-way forwards in the NHL being named the smartest player, most difficult to play against, hardest to take the puck from, most difficult to stop, cleanest player, and toughest forward to play against in a player’s poll that was taken for the 2011-12 season.
While peer recognition is great, what it really comes down to is the hardware. Datsyuk has plenty of that with 4 Lady Byng Memorial Trophies (tied for 2nd most all-time behind the great Wayne Gretzky who won 5) and 3 Frank J. Selke Trophies (tied for 2nd most all-time behind Bob Gainey who won the first 4 years the trophy was handed out).
There isn’t an active NHL player that can match those accolades, let alone come even close.
The only major piece missing on Datsyuk’s mantle is the Hart Memorial Trophy which is awarded to NHL regular season MVP. However, he was at least nominated for the award following a superb 2008-09 campaign but was beaten out by fellow countryman Alexander Ovechkin.
4. Goal/Assist/Point Producing Machine
Statistics can be misleading, but in Pavel’s case I let the numbers speak for themselves.
- Goals: 272 (222nd all-time, 9th in franchise history and 33rd among active players)
- Assists: 532 (112th all-time, 6th in franchise history and 15th among active players)
- Points: 804 (149th all-time, 6th in franchise history and 21st among active players)
To make a quick comparison, there are currently 238 players inducted in the Hall of Fame. Of the players that are currently ahead of Datsyuk in goals, assists, or points in Red Wings franchise history only Sergei Fedorov, Henrik Zetterberg, and Nicklas Lidstrom aren’t in the Hall of Fame. Lidstrom and Fedorov are sure bets to go in but aren’t eligible until 2015, and Zetterberg will have a very similar case to Pavel Datsyuk when he retires.
Not to mention that these statistics aren’t final. Datysuk still has a few more good seasons ahead of him.
Other statistics I found rather interesting:
- 230 career plus/minus (44th all-time, 3rd in franchise history and 2nd among active players)
- 0.98 points per game average (69th all-time, 10th in franchise history and 8th among active players)
- 45 game-winning goals (147th all-time, 5th in franchise history and 33rd among active players)
3. 2-Time Stanley Cup Winner
Getting into the Hall of Fame isn’t just about awards and statistics. Being a proven winner goes a long way in separating a great player from the all-time best. By having the 2002 and 2008 Stanley Cups on his resume Datsyuk gets a slight edge over other forwards that have put up similar or even better offensive numbers during their careers.
Datsyuk can also still make the rare case that he has never missed the playoffs during his career and during that time he has advanced to the Conference Finals four times and Stanley Cup Finals three times. To top it all off, he is a proven winner in the regular season as well by helping the Red Wings claim four Presidents’ Trophies (2001-02, 2003-04, 2005-06, and 2007-08).
2. Memorability – Flair for the Dramatic
I think I have got my point across through the first three reasons, Pavel Datsyuk comfortably meets the eye-ball test to make the Hall of Fame based on statistics and awards. However, it’s not that simple.
There are still two outlining factors that need to be met.
First, is the player memorable? Or better said, should this player be remember and be idolized forever?
This video sums up my answer.
He is the Magic Man. What Datsyuk can do with a stick and a puck should never be forgotten.
1. Lack of Competition
Second and last factor that could stop Datsyuk’s bid would be the other nominations. He could get the short end of the stick because there are only so many players that can make it in the Hall of Fame.
For Pavel however, when the time does come when he is eligible for nomination (three years after retirement) his competition to get in is going to be rather minimal. Datsyuk finds himself in a nice pocket between the likes of Nicklas Lidstrom, Teemu Selanne, and Jarome Jagr to the potential future inductees of Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, and teammate Henrik Zetterberg.
If the timing works out perfectly, then there is no reason to believe that Pavel Datsyuk won’t get in on his first year of eligibility.
But, until that time comes, enjoy his final few seasons in a Winged Wheel as Datsyuk turned 36 years old in July and is currently under contract through the 2016-17 season.
The NHL Hall of Fame is imminent. #13 hanging up in the rafters next to Nicklas Lidstom and Steve Yzerman…
Well, that’s another whole debate.
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