New Jersey Devils forward and alternate captain Patrik Elias is still active, so he’s not eligible for the Hall of Fame yet (keep your Chris Pronger jokes to yourself, please) but he may be one of the most polarizing test cases when the time comes to weigh whether or not he gets the nod. He is regarded neither as a generational talent nor a blow-you-away type performer, but Elias has consistently put up impressive numbers, helping the New Jersey Devils win two Stanley Cups and, more recently, has bolstered an anemic offense despite the fact that he is no longer a young buck.
The 39-year-old Czech native is versatile -- he can play center or wing, though the latter is his natural position -- and he has longevity. He has amassed 1,017 points (406 goals, 611 assists) in 1,224 games for the Devils, which is a noteworthy accomplishment in and of itself but perhaps more impressive considering the following: His career totals took hits with two lockouts, and he put up those numbers despite a notoriously-stingy Devils system that was predicated on a defense-first mentality. What’s more is that Elias’ steadiness has stood the test of time. He is a two-time Stanley Cup Champ and a four-time All-Star – he represented the Devils in 2000, 2002, 2011 and 2015. The long-time Devil has the franchise record in goals, assists and points, and he has been one of the team’s top three scorers for each of the past five seasons.
Elias was probably not one of the greatest players in the league in any certain season, and his numbers do not blow you away. He topped out with a 96-point season in 2001, where he ranked third overall in scoring (though first overall with a plus/minus rating of plus-45). Some feel that to make the HHOF you have to be special, unique, and that the qualifications have gotten far more lax recently. Even his former teammate Bobby Holik told ESPN the Mag’s Craig Custance earlier this year that he would not include Elias: "As much as I loved playing with Patrik and being his friend, I don't think he's a Hall of Famer," Holik told Custance. "I feel it's a very, very unique club." There will be others that side with him on this.
We can appreciate Holik’s dilution argument, but considering that effect has already taken place, it seems wrong to leave players out based on a set of conditions that no longer seem relevant. Elias was a really good player for a sustained stretch of time, who isn’t done yet. We have the feeling that by the time he chooses to hang up his skates, his numbers should be enough to ear consideration.
ESPN Panel: 60 percent voted for induction in the Hall.