1. Joe Nieuwendyk
Universally well liked and well decorated, Nieuwendyk is as close to a sure thing as there is in this year's class. Tied for 20th in career goal scoring (564) and eighth in game winners (93), he won three Stanley Cups with three NHL teams (Calgary Flames in 1989, Dallas Stars in 1999 and New Jersey Devils in 2003) along with the Calder Trophy as top rookie in 1988 and Conn Smythe as the playoff's most valuable player in 1999. Nieuwendyk played in 1,257 regular-season and 158 playoff games despite regularly battling injuries that led to early retirement in 2006.
2. Angela James
It's widely expected that at least one female player will, for the first time, join hockey's Hall this year, and James is at the front of the pack. One of the first three women inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame two years ago, James is regarded as the first superstar of modern women's hockey after she won eight most valuable player awards and four gold medals playing for Canada at the world championships. American star Cami Granato will also be in the running, with both James and Granato potentially named if the selection committee is feeling especially historic.
3. Pat Burns
The gruff police officer turned NHL coach is a sentimental favourite to be inducted as a builder in 2010 as he continues to battle terminal lung cancer. This is likely his last chance to accept the Hall induction and that could well sway the committee. Burns's credentials are impressive enough to merit consideration, as he won the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year three times (1989, 1993 and 1998) with three Original Six teams and led the Devils to the Stanley Cup in 2003. More than 70,000 members have joined a Facebook group campaigning for Burns to get in.
4. Doug Gilmour
Likely best remembered as the heart-and-soul captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Gilmour sits 17th in career points with 1,414, more than 232 of the 244 players in the Hall of Fame. Where he comes up short is in individual hardware, as the only major award Gilmour won was the Selke Trophy as the league's top defensive forward in 1993, a result of playing much of his career in the Gretzky and Lemieux era. He also won a Stanley Cup with the Flames as a 25-year-old rising star, however, and is tied for seventh place in career playoff points with Joe Sakic (188).
5. Pavel Bure
Still just 39, the Russian Rocket's career ended seven years ago because of chronic knee woes. In the 702 regular-season games he played, however, he made quite an impact. A six-time all-star, Bure won the Calder Trophy as top rookie in 1992 with the Vancouver Canucks, and led the league in goal scoring three times. Despite playing much of his career in hockey's Dead Puck Era, he scored 60 goals twice and hit the 50-goal mark three more times. Among players with 400 games played, Bure's career average of 0.62 goals a game is better than everyone's but Mike Bossy and Mario Lemieux.
6. Eric Lindros
Like Bure, The Big E's career burned brightly for a short time before being derailed by injuries. Entering the NHL at 19 with the Philadelphia Flyers, Lindros scored 193 goals and 436 points in 297 games in his first five years in one of the most dominant debuts in league history. Along the way, he won the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player at 22 and starred for Canada at the Olympics three times (1992, 1998 and 2002). A controversial figure throughout his career, Lindros suffered eight concussions and retired in 2007. He played just 279 games in the seven years after his 27th birthday.
Honourable mentions: Cami Granato, Adam Oates, Dave Andreychuk, Dino Ciccarelli, Phil Housley, Fred Shero, Mark Howe, Sergei Makarov, Mike Vernon, Tom Barrasso.
The 18 members of the HHOF selection committee are Scotty Bowman, David Branch, Colin Campbell, John Davidson, Eric Duhatschek, Jan-Ake Edvinsson, Mike (Doc) Emrick, Michael Farber, Mike Gartner, Jim Gregory (co-chair), Dick Irvin, Lanny McDonald, Yvon Pedneault, Pat Quinn (co-chair), Serge Savard, Harry Sinden, Peter Stastny and Bill Torrey.