Does Brian Leetch Belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

by Håkan Dahlström from Helsingborg, Sweden [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

Brian Leetch was one of the greatest offensive defensemen of his era, perhaps even of all time.

That’s what we discuss on his episode of our podcast – where Leetch ranks all time, with multiple long discussions of his role in the 1994 Rangers’ Cup run.

Listen here:

Leetch’s stats:

Career:

  • 1987-2006; 18 seasons, all quality
  • 247G (9th D All Time, 2nd American D), 781A (7th D, 3rd American skater) for 1028P (8th D, 2nd American D), +25 in 1205 games (5th American D); 146.6 PS (12th D All Time); 27:03 ATOI (since 1998-99)
  • Among all NHL D, Leetch is 13th All Time in GPG, and 7th All Time in APG and PPG
  • Leetch is 2nd All Time among American NHLers in APG
  • Leetch is 8th All Time in OPS among NHL D (6th at his retirement)
  • Draft: 9th overall in 1986; in his draft class, Leetch is
    • 5th in Goals
    • 1st in Assists and Point Shares
    • 2nd in Points
    • 9th in Plus/Minus
    • 3rd in Games Played
  • Era: Of the 25 D to play in at least 1,000 games between 1987 and 2006, Leetch is
    • 2nd in Goals
    • 5th in GPG
    • 2nd in Assists (by 1 assist)
    • 2nd in APG
    • 1st in Points
    • 3rd in PPG
    • 20th (6th last) in Plus/Minus
    • 2nd in Offensive Point Shares
    • 13th in Defensive Point Shares
    • 3rd in Point Shares
  • 82-game average: 16G, 53A for 70P, +2; 10 PS
  • 3-year peak (‘91-’94): 20G, 68A for 88P, +12; 12.6 PS
  • Retired two years before possession stats were tracked
  • Playoffs: 28G, 69A for 97P, +2 in 95 games; 28:29 ATOI (13 games)
  • Adjusted: 252G (11th D All Time), 787A (7th D) for 1039P
  • Adjusted 82-game average: 17G, 54A for 71P
  • Best guess is that Leetch is 6th All Time among all NHL D in Adjusted GPG, 5th in Adjusted APG and PPG
  • Trades:
    • Traded at 35 as an expiring contract for Jussi Markkanen (28) and a 4th round pick (re-signed with New York immediately)
    • Traded at 36 (on his birthday!) with the above mentioned 4th round pick for Maxim Kondratiev (21), Jarkko Immonen (almost 22), a 1st round pick (Kris Chucko), and a 2nd round pick in 2005 (Michael Sauer).

Accomplishments:

  • Conn Smythe (‘94)
  • 2 Norris (‘92, ‘97)
  • Calder (‘89)
  • Top 5 in Norris voting an additional 5 times
  • Top 5 Player (by PS) once (‘92), Top 10 player four times (‘91, ‘94, ‘97)
  • Top 5 Defensive Player (by DPS) once (‘94), Top 10 twice (‘97)
  • Top 5 in Assists once, Top 10 five times
  • Top 5 in APG once, Top 10 twice
  • Top 10 in Points once
  • Top 10 in Plus/Minus once
  • Goals:
    • 20 goals five times (1 of only 9 D ever), 
    • 15 goals nine times (1 of only 9 D ever)
  • Assists:
    • 80 assists once (1 of only 3 D ever), 
    • 70 assists three times (1 of only 4 D ever, 1 of only 16 players ever), 
    • 50 assists six times (1 of only 9 D ever), 
    • 40 assists ten times (1 of only 10 D ever)
  • Points:
    • 100 points once (1 of only 5 D ever), 
    • 80 points three times (1 of only 7 D ever), 
    • 70 points seven times (1 of only 5 D ever), 
    • 50 points twelve times (1 of only 8 D ever)
  • 1st Team All Star twice, 2nd Team three times, 1st Team All Rookie
  • Three Stars:
    • Rookie of the Month once.
  • 9 All Star Game appearances.

Great Teams:

  • NHL:
    • Best Player (won MVP, led playoffs in assists and points) on one Champion (‘94 Rangers)
    • Best D (by points) on one Final Four (‘97 Rangers)
  • Olympics:
    • Top 2? D (by points) on one Runner Up (‘02 USA)

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