HHOF Standards

We’ve clarified eras and positions in order to categorize players. We’ve identified the factors that comprise the PPS system’s scoring. Now, to complete the methodology, we need to establish the benchmarks that drive the assessment of a player’s HHOF case.

Lidstrom Shoots From Point” by clydeorama is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

The Hall of Fame

  • The HHOF’s Selection Committee is directed to consider the “playing ability, sportsmanship, character and contributions to his or her team or teams and to the game of hockey in general.”
  • To be eligible, the player “must have not played in a professional or international hockey game during any of the three playing seasons prior to his or her election.”
  • A maximum of four male and two female players may be elected in any year.

Through the 2023 induction cycle, of the 298 players inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, there are 209 that have been elected primarily for their work in the NHL. The breakdown by era and position of those inductees is as follows:

The Standards

Using each player’s PPS score, here’s how the HHOF standards work:

#1: There are six PPS standards based on era and position

  • PRE-Expansion (Eras 1 & 2):
    • Forwards
    • Defencemen
    • Goaltenders
  • POST-Expansion (Eras 3-5):
    • Forwards
    • Defencemen
    • Goaltenders

#2: A player is tiered based on their PPS relative to the standard for their era and position

  • Tiers include:
    • Inner Circle: far exceeds the standard
    • Qualified: exceeds the standard
    • Borderline + : slightly exceeds the standard
    • Borderline – : slightly below the standard
    • Hall of Very Good: below the standard
    • Everyone Else: far below the standard

#3: The number of eligible NHL players that meet the PPS standards will always match the actual HHOF (i.e., 209 through the 2023 cycle)

  • The standards therefore require annual adjusting once that year’s induction class is announced. This ensures the standards mirrors the HHOF’s inclusion rate.
  • The players that meet the PPS standard will not be the same as those inducted.
    • 43 eligible players that currently exceed the PPS standard have not been inducted, meaning 43 players currently below the PPS standard have been inducted.

#4: The standards are only intended to be a starting point for a player’s HHOF case

  • Treating a player’s position relative to the standard as an open-and-shut HHOF case is not the purpose of the methodology.
  • Acknowledging the limits of a data-driven approach, subjective considerations should serve as factors on a borderline player’s HHOF case, or when comparing players rated similarly.
    • The HHOF tiers leave a window to capture borderline cases (i.e., a PPS +15/-10 from the standard for pre-expansion, +15/-15 for post-expansion).

The Example

  • There are currently 16 post-expansion goaltenders in the HHOF. The standard is therefore set exactly where the 16th-best eligible goalie is ranked by PPS (i.e., Tom Barrasso, PPS = 311).
  • Any post-expansion goaltender with a PPS + or – 15 from the standard is considered to have a Borderline HHOF case (i.e., slightly above or below the standard).
  • A Qualified HHOF player is at least 15 above, easily exceeding the standard (ex: Bernie Parent, PPS = 343).
  • An Inner Circle HHOF player far exceeds the standard, comprising an elite group of the top 40 players of all-time, detailed further below (ex: Dominik Hasek, PPS = 423).

Of the 16 eligible goaltenders in these eras that exceed the standard, four have not been inducted. This means there are also four HHOF-inducted goaltenders below the standard. These eight goaltenders are, therefore, the four likely errors and four likely omissions identified by the methodology.

The Visual

The Inner Circle

The Inner Circle tier was created to identify the 40 most HHOF-worthy players in history at the time of the project’s creation. The tier’s thresholds were designed to equitably represent eras and positions.

  • 15 Pre-Expansion players: 7 forwards, 5 defencemen, 3 goaltenders
  • 25 Post-Expansion players: 13 forwards, 8 defencemen, 4 goaltenders
    • Total: 20 forwards, 13 defencemen, 7 goaltenders
  • Active players can join the Inner Circle by reaching the required PPS score.
    • Connor McDavid — at age 26 — became the 41st member in 2023.
  • Retired players cannot fall from the Inner Circle; it can only grow over time

By creating HHOF standards by era and position, we have a consistent, objective starting point for each NHL player’s HHOF case.

Era concepts, PPS System, HHOF Standards from Adjusted Hockey;
League data information used herein was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by the Hockey Databank project. For more information about the Hockey Databank project, visit https://groups.io/g/hockey-databank/topics