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Hockey Hall of Fame: Nicklas Lidstrom leads hopefuls for 2015

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

Sergei Fedorov and Nicklas Lidstrom are both eligible in 2015. (Getty Images)
Sergei Fedorov and Nicklas Lidstrom are both eligible in 2015. (Getty Images)

More NHL Offseason: NHL rumors | Updating rumor mill | 2014-15 preseason odds

On Monday the Hockey Hall of Fame announced its next class of inductees with Dominik Hasek, Mike Modano, Peter Forsberg, Rob Blake and Pat Burns getting the call (along with referee Bill McCreary). It's a very fine class with each as deserving as the next.

Too often Hall of Fame announcement conversations immediately turn to who didn't make it but that's always such a disservice and a shame to those that did. Especially with hockey having a limit of just four players per class, it takes away from where the spotlight should be; on the deserving new honorees.

So we won't focus on the people who should feel outraged that they didn't get in for 2014, but instead look at the potential class for 2015. Undoubtedly there is some overlap but it's not about being snubbed, it's about waiting through the backlog that the four-player limit can create.

Between the players who haven't quite made the cut to the newcomers to the ballot, here's a look at the possibilities on the player's side for induction next year.

Nicklas Lidstrom

Duh. Do we need say anymore? OK, we will but keep this one brief because, well, it's happening without any question.

Lidstrom is one of the very best defensemen to ever play the game. In 1,564 career games, all with the Red Wings, Lidstrom finished with 1,142 points. He appeared in 11 All-Star Games throughout his career, won the Norris Trophy a record seven times including three straight years on two occasions and also won the 2002 Conn Smythe Trophy all while hoisting the Stanley Cup four times. This is as big of a lock as you'll ever see.

Sergei Fedorov

One of Fedorov's lasting impacts is the fact that he helped to forever change the image of European and Russian players in the NHL, at least for many. He was also a massive part of those Red Wings teams that were so good but he also spent a little time in Columbus, Washington and Anaheim over his career.

It was pretty outstanding, too, as he finished with 1,179 points (on 483 goals) in just 1,248 career games. He was a six-time All-Star Game participant, won the Hart Trophy in 1993-94 as the MVP and also won the Selke Trophy twice as the best defensive forward. Oh, and there were the three Stanley Cup teams he was a part of too.

Mark Recchi

The Doctor has a very strong case to get in the Hall and is the player most people are looking at as the next deserving player. In fact, this numbers are incredibly similar to those of Modano.

Over his 1,652 game career, Recchi finished with 577 goals and 956 assists for 1,533 career points, which is the 12th most of all time. He averaged 0.93 points per game in his career to Modano's 0.92. But a couple of things working in Modano's favor that Recchi can't say the same about is the legacy he left with one franchise and the impact he made in one area over such a long time. Recchi played for seven different teams in his long career, spending 10 of those with the Flyers.

Still, he was very good wherever he went and is the owner of a rare distinction, having won the Stanley Cup with three different teams; the Penguins as a rookie, the Hurricanes in 2006 and then the Bruins in his final season. A seven-time All-Star, it seems like only a matter of time before Recchi gets the call.

Eric Lindros

The former Flyer is still waiting, hoping that he'll get the call because based on the games he played, he deserved it. In his days with the Flyers he was one of the NHL's foremost players and was absolutely worthy of the No. 1 overall pick with which Quebec drafted him in 1991. He led the league in the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season with 70 points in only 46 games, good enough to win him the Hart Trophy as the league MVP. He followed it up the next season with 115 points in 73 games.

A physical force and part of the Flyers' Legion of Doom, the physicality caught up to Lindros as his career was cut drastically short because of concussion issues. He finished with stops with the Rangers, Leafs and Stars but still only played 760 career games.

But the recent inductions of Pavel Bure and Peter Forsberg, who also did not have very long careers, should give him more hope because 865 points and 372 goals in 760 career games are tough numbers to ignore. Bure had to wait many years though and perhaps Lindros will have to as well.

Jeremy Roenick

J.R. has been passed over a couple of times and will probably be a guy that lives right on the edge of that "very good, maybe not great" line for years to come. He surpassed the 500-goal mark in his career, finishing with 513 in 1,363 career games between the Blackhawks, Coyotes, Flyers, Sharks and Kings.

But he also never won a major award or the Stanley Cup despite being a nine-time All-Star and having a lasting impact in American hockey partly thanks to him continuing as a broadcaster and being one of the more recognizable players in the U.S.

Chris Osgood

Like Roenick, Osgood is a guy that seems to be toeing that line and will be a constant talking point for years to come, most likely.

The good: Osgood won three Stanley Cups in his career during two stints with the Red Wings. For two of those runs he was the starter, and for his career he had 401 wins against only 216 losses. He didn't win any individual awards but was part of two Jennings Trophy-winning seasons.

The bad: He doesn't get much credit for those Stanley Cups as he was part of the Red Wings machine. His .905 career save percentage doesn't hold much of a candle to the other goalies of his era that were considered elite.

Alexei Kovalev

Like Fedorov, Kovalev helped to change the perception of Russians in the NHL. During his 1,316-game career he tallied 430 goals and 599 assists for a total of 1,029 points, clearing the quadruple-digit mark late in his career.

Originally a member of the Rangers after they took him 15th overall in 1991 draft, Kovalev was part of the Rangers' Cup-winning team in 1994, scoring 21 points in 23 postseason games. But like the guys directly above him on this list, he is probably one of those guys right on the edge of being in or not.

He joins Fedorov and Lidstrom on this list as new candidates for 2015.

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