Each year, the Hockey Hall of Fame inducts a new class of legendary names into its ranks. The 2018 class will be enshrined this fall but collectors and fans are now thinking ahead to who might make the cut in 2019. Once announced, there is sometimes a little boost in interest for their rookie cards and certified autographs – but why not speculate in advance to beat the rush later on?
The most recent crop of the sport’s on-ice icons was led by the record-shattering Martin Brodeur along with Martin St-Louis, Alexander Yakushev, and Jayna Hefford. Throw in a pair of builders with the pioneering Willie O’Ree and the somewhat controversial choice of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and you have the makings of a solid class.
Moving forward, there are still plenty of eligible talents which are worth taking a risk on – especially if the price is right.
2019 Hockey Hall of Fame Vote: Is There a Lock?
While some of the players we list here could be truly considered a lock for enshrinement right away, if ever, there is no denying that they made solid contributions to the game over the years and it is still worth taking the time to consider picking up some of their key cards.
In recent years, there has been a lot of buzz surrounding longtime Chicago Blackhawks blueliner and San Jose Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson. As a player, he won the Norris Trophy and had multiple All-Star nods and his success in San Jose has resulted in a Stanley Cup Final appearance. On cardboard, his rookie card from 1978-79 O-Pee-Chee and Topps have long been underrated with the former being particularly difficult to find in top condition due to the set’s notoriously poor centering and rough edges (which are perfectly normal for O-Pee-Chee sets of this era).
Could Wilson finally get the call in 2019? It is hard to say, but there are rumblings that women’s hockey legend Hayley Wickenheiser should be a lock in 2020. This makes perfect sense due to what she accomplished at the international level, but she has also done a lot to promote the game to young women as well.
Wickenheiser has been featured on a limited number of cards over the years. The first is the 1994-95 Classic Women of Hockey insert. Her conventional rookie card as part of a major issue set comes from 1997-98 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice, but both are still very affordable. Even after several World Championship and Olympic victories, she did not have a certified autograph or memorabilia card until 2005-06 thanks to the Going For Gold boxed set from In The Game. Recently, she has been part of Team Canada Juniors releases from Upper Deck which regularly pay tribute to Canada’s National Women’s Team.
The other player expected to be inducted in 2020? That would be the recently-retired Jarome Iginla and even a basic look at his accomplishments justifies the honor. Long a hobby favorite, his rookie cards from 1994-95 feature him in Canada’s colors and his first NHL cards came a couple years later. For such an elite player, his autographs are affordable, but it takes a lot of effort to put together anything close to a comprehensive collection of his cards.
After that, the Class of 2021 is expected to feature both Henrik and Daniel Sedin. Icons in Vancouver, they will fittingly go in together and their only rookie cards could be found in 1997-98 Black Diamond. While getting either of them individually as autographed cards is easy enough, it may be more appropriate to add a nice dual signature card of them to your collection instead. Jaromir Jagr may or may not be a part of that class, too – it all depends if he plays somewhere professionally in 2018-19.
Here are some other players that could gain a place among hockey’s immortals in the next couple of years:
While some folks were surprised to see that Daniel Alfredsson did not make it in during his first year of eligibility in 2018, most seem to think that his Hockey Hall of Fame announcement is bound to happen one day. Spending the majority of his career with the Ottawa Senators, he was an exemplary leader and even took the team all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in 2006-07. His rookie cards from 1995-96 are not hard to find and if anything, are tremendously overlooked. The best of the bunch is from that year’s edition of SP Authentic thanks to somewhat sensitive foil stock and his certified autographs are easy pickups.
When the first wave of Soviet players arrived during the final days of the USSR, Alexander Mogilny was a talent that many felt was destined for greatness. His rookie cards from the 1990-91 season are plentiful, of course, but try finding a certified autograph cheaply – it’s not easy. It seems that Leaf Trading Cards have some in new releases, so they may become a bit more affordable in time. Considering his 76-goal season in 1992-93 and an excellent career which included scoring over 1,000 points, he is deserving of this honor.
There has also been a movement to induct Sergei Zubov, who was a fantastic offensive defenseman that won a pair of Stanley Cup titles. Incredibly skilled, he never finished higher than third in Norris Trophy voting (2005-06). Never a big hobby star, he looks better with age and he only had three rookie cards during the 1992-93 season (Parkhurst, Fleer Ultra, and Upper Deck) – strange for that era. His first North American card appearance, though, was the previous year as part of an insert set found in packs of 1991-92 O-Pee-Chee. He also only has a handful of certified autographs out there, with none appearing in trading card releases in over a decade.
Joseph currently ranks fifth all-time in wins (and third in losses), but goalies always seem to have to wait a while to enter the Hockey Hall of Fame. Granted, he did have a long career that lasted 19 seasons and was a Vezina Trophy finalist three times – only finishing second in voting during his memorable 1999-00 season with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Was Joseph ever regarded as one of the game’s elite netminders? It could be argued that he was at times and he was certainly popular with fans. Does he get in one day? It is hoped that he will as his numbers support induction, even if he never won the Stanley Cup or the Vezina. Collecting Joseph’s rookie cards is as simple as it gets thanks to being part of those massively-produced 1990-91 sets and he still signs on occasion for new products.
Small in size but huge on talent, Theo Fleury was hugely popular with fans through most of his career and he beat the odds and thrilled fans every step of the way. As a rookie with the Calgary Flames in 1988-89, he got to hoist the Stanley Cup and his rookie card was part of the O-Pee-Chee set the following year. It is not a hard card to obtain, either, and is very affordable.
By the time he was done in Calgary, he was the franchise’s all-time scoring leader (something which Iginla later overtook), but events from his personal life, including horrifying abuse at the hands of his junior hockey coach, sent him on a destructive path which he ultimately learned to face and make public. An inspiring speaker and advocate for abuse victims today, he deserves to join the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Fleury can regularly be found in trading card products today and his autographed cards are a must-have for those wanting ink from an all-time great.
Had it not been for a skin disorder, Marian Hossa might still be playing today as he was still making solid on-ice contributions into his late 30s as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks. A three-time Stanley Cup champ in the Windy City, he potted 525 goals along the way and initially began his career as a hot prospect with the Ottawa Senators in 1997-98. He has numerous rookie cards from that season, but none of them gets more love than the one from Donruss Preferred. Part of the Silver subset, it was not the easiest card to pull and can be tough to find in pristine condition due to the etched metallic borders.
Despite all of his accomplishments, Hossa never really made the transition from hobby star to superstar in the eyes of many collectors. Will a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame help his standing?
Love him or hate him, there is no doubt that Jeremy Roenick would generate plenty of discussion should he become a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Outspoken at times, but with deep knowledge of the game, he seems to get a polarized reaction from fans and collectors. Granted, he has better offensive totals than some Hall of Fame members and was a fantastic power forward, but has no major NHL awards in his trophy case.
Roenick’s rookie cards from 1990-91 were hugely popular during the boom era, but they are simple enough to pick up today. He still signs a fair bit for trading card products and the cards seem to do well, which proves that there is still very much a demand for his cardboard. As long as he is on television and speaking his mind, that demand will remain high.
Once Joseph gets in, is the door open for Mike Vernon? A quick examination of his totals supports the idea as he won Stanley Cups in both Calgary and Detroit. While he also never won the Vezina Trophy despite some solid seasons, he did capture the Conn Smythe Trophy as postseason MVP in 1996-97. He ranks 15th all-time in victories with 385, too.
Vernon first appeared on NHL products in 1987-88. Where things get interesting with Vernon and the hobby is the fact that he does not have a lot of certified autographs on the market – even less than Zubov. He only signed once under the old Be A Player program (2001-02 with a very limited card) and for 1997-98 Donruss Canadian Ice, but other than that, he was used sporadically among a few In The Game releases starting in 2010-11. There are presently fewer than a dozen on eBay.
On the Outside Looking In (For Now)
At some point, though, there has to be a cut-off for what makes a Hall of Fame player. Other retired greats that could have a potential shot in a year where there are fewer slam dunks include Rod Brind’Amour, Vincent Lecavalier, Patrik Elias, Sergei Gonchar, Keith Tkachuk, Tom Barrasso, Chris Osgood, Steve Larmer, Kevin Lowe, Rick Middleton, and Pierre Turgeon.