Chris Osgood & The HHOF

DETROIT - JANUARY 2:  during an NHL game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on January 2, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

With Chris Osgood recently passing the 400-win plateau, the discussion about whether or not he deserves a place in the Hockey Hall of Fame has picked up steam.

A lot has been written on the subject; after the jump, a look at some selected pieces and my own modest contribution to the debate.

The first thing I wanted to do was compare Osgood’s save percentage, by year, to the league average over his career.  However, Red Wings fan Mike Rogers beat me to it, putting that information up in a graph over at Behind The Net.  Osgood has been decidedly average over the course of his career, jumping over and then dropping under the league-average number.  Rogers’ conclusion?  “Hardly Hall of Fame worthy.”

Meanwhile, the superb Contrarian Goaltender has done up a few posts recently which shine further light upon Osgood’s career.  First, he assumes that NHL general managers are the best judges of goaltending, and that they show their judgement by paying the best goaltenders the most money.  Then he charts NHL goaltender pay (adjusted for year) since 1990, and finds Osgood ranks 17th, behind luminaries like Kirk McLean and Felix Potvin.  His conclusion:

The other interesting guy to point out is #17 on the list. If Chris Osgood was really the #2 goalie of the last decade, as some claim, then he needs to immediately sue his agent for gross malpractice. I think the reality is that, in the vote done with their owners’ dollars, the league’s general managers just weren’t all that impressed by Osgood.

Pretty tough to argue against that.  Next, CG looked at Osgood’s much-ballyhooed playoff performance.  I’ve compiled that information into handy chart form, which looks at his records in given series:

Where Osgood’s team had 20+ point advantage 7 series wins, 1 series loss
When Osgood’s team had <20 point advantage 8 series wins, 8 series losses
When Osgood was in net 15 series wins, 9 series losses
When Osgood was on the bench 9 series wins, 4 series losses

In other words, Osgood’s playoff record being above average is entirely a result of playing behind dominant teams.  And no, that doesn’t make him a hall-of-famer.

For those less statistically inclined, the blog The Puck Stops Here goes through a series of simple questions to determine whether Osgood belongs in the hall of fame.  The indicated answer is surprisingly straight forward.

My own modest contribution is to compare him to other goaltenders who played for the same teams over the same seasons Osgood did.  It isn’t a particularly impressive list, even when we limit it to goaltenders who played at least 10 games in the given seasons:

  • Cameo appearances from Bob Essensa, Tim Cheveldae, Kevin Hodson, Norm Maracle, Ken Wregget, Garth Snow, Brent Johnson, Reinhard Divis, Rick DiPietro, Fred Brathwaite, Ty Conklin, and one half season from the re-animated corpse of Dominik Hasek
  • Longer performances from Mike Vernon (three seasons at the tail end of his career), Manny Legace (three seasons) and Jimmy Howard (two and a half seasons)

Against this motley collection of collaborators, Osgood comes out looking rather poor.  Osgood has made 16861 saves on 18629 shots over his career, good for a save percentage 0f 0.905.  In the seasons on which they played for the same team, our checkered list of co-goalies made 15426 stops on 16820 shots, for a combined save percentage of 0.906.

Those aren’t hall of fame credentials.  They aren’t even close, in point of fact.