Looking at the best line combinations in the NHL and who is getting the most benefit out of their situation.
Fantasy owners have an obsession with looking at line combos. My dad, for example, really finds a player’s linemates important. Whenever I bring up a player’s name, the first words out of his mouth are: “Who’s he playing with?”
He’s not alone in that – and for good reason. Unless a player is the “driver” of the line, his production often lives or dies by those linemates of his. Here are the 10 best lines in hockey today:
10. Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams, Dustin Brown – Los Angeles Kings
The Driver: Kopitar
The Beneficiary: Brown
This line has been a staple in hockey for a couple of years now. Sometimes coach Darryl Sutter tries other players on Kopitar’s line, but he always goes back to what works.
9. Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Rich Peverley – Dallas Stars
The Driver: Both Seguin and Benn
The Beneficiary: Peverley
The Stars have mixed and matched players on the right wing, but Peverley has had the most success. Had he been there full-time, he’d have 12 or 13 points by now. Currently, rookie Valeri Nichushkin is enjoying success there.
8. Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane – Chicago Blackhawks
The Driver: All three?
The Beneficiary: All three?
This is actually not a line combo, but a part of a power play unit. However, as a trio, they have enjoyed so much success that they sit among the league’s top lines in terms of production. Perhaps Joel Quenneville should consider playing these guys together on a full-time basis.
7. Joe Thornton, Brent Burns, Tomas Hertl – San Jose Sharks
The Driver: Thornton drives the bus here, no question.
The Beneficiary: Both Burns and Hertl
The line still ranks as one of the highest scoring lines in the NHL this season, even though Burns has missed seven games with injury and Hertl has shifted to other lines. When Burns returns, watch out.
6. Tyler Bozak, Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk – Toronto Maple Leafs
The Driver: Kessel
The Beneficiary: Bozak
Kessel has been among the NHL’s top seven scorers for two years now and he’ll probably make it three. JVR is having a breakout year. The line is so successful that even with Bozak sidelined, they still rank among the most prolific lines in hockey.
5. Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, Marcus Johansson – Washington Capitals
The Driver: Ovechkin
The Beneficiary: Johansson
Johansson is a 60-point player wearing the disguise of a potential 80-point player thanks to his linemates. Like Jonathan Cheechoo from a decade ago, except instead of goals Johansson will rack up assists.
4. Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Ryan Kesler – Vancouver Canucks
The Driver: The twins
The Beneficiary: Kesler
Kesler would do just fine without the star Swedes, but with them his potential skyrockets. It will be interesting to see if this line sticks. It probably will, as long as Mike Santorelli plays the way he’s playing.
3. David Krejci, Jarome Iginla, Milan Lucic – Boston Bruins
The Driver: Krejci
The Beneficiary: Iginla
You look at the three names on this line and you’d think it would be the opposite, but Iginla’s 80-point, line-driver days are over. However, he’s obviously still a great complementary player who makes the entire line produce more as a unit.
2. David Backes, Alexander Steen, T.J. Oshie – St. Louis Blues
The Driver: Steen
The Beneficiary: All
Steen is off to a career start, to the point where even if he slips to the “usual” Steen for the next 60 games, he’ll still be a top 20 scorer. He has to stay healthy, but I’ve already touched on that a dozen times. Backes and Oshie have similar upside and as a trio they are looking like they will reach their potential.
1. Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis – Pittsburgh Penguins
The Driver: Duh
The Beneficiary: Anyone on this line not named Crosby.
As long as Crosby is healthy, this line is the best one. Dupuis is a 45-point player and Kunitz is a 55-point player. Yet with Crosby they could very well be 65 and 75.
There are some notable omissions of course, but a lot of those omissions exist thanks to line juggling. If Todd Bertuzzi had played with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg since Game 1, that line would certainly have made the list. And if Tyler Bozak hadn’t gotten hurt, how many more points would that line have tallied? Dallas can’t stay consistent with the Benn-Seguin line. The other winger has been a revolving door.
Looking at the actual numbers courtesy of Frozen Pool, here are the top lines this season in terms of accrued points for the entire line while they were on the ice together. Four players indicates a power play unit:
BACKES,DAVID – OSHIE,T.J. – STEEN,ALEXANDER: 31
CROSBY,SIDNEY – DUPUIS,PASCAL – KUNITZ,CHRIS: 31
IGINLA,JAROME – KREJCI,DAVID – LUCIC,MILAN: 30
BENN,JAMIE – PEVERLEY,RICH – SEGUIN,TYLER: 24
BOZAK,TYLER – KESSEL,PHIL – VAN RIEMSDYK,JAMES: 24
KESLER,RYAN – SEDIN,DANIEL – SEDIN,HENRIK: 24
MOULSON,MATT – NIELSEN,FRANS – OKPOSO,KYLE – TAVARES,JOHN: 22
COUTURE,LOGAN – MARLEAU,PATRICK – PAVELSKI,JOE – THORNTON,JOE: 21
ALFREDSSON,DANIEL – BERTUZZI,TODD – DATSYUK,PAVEL – ZETTERBERG,HENRIK: 20
CHIMERA,JASON – GRABOVSKI,MIKHAIL – WARD,JOEL: 19
BACKSTROM,NICKLAS – JOHANSSON,MARCUS – OVECHKIN,ALEXANDER: 18
BURNS,BRENT – HERTL,TOMAS – THORNTON,JOE: 17
MACARTHUR,CLARKE – RYAN,BOBBY – TURRIS,KYLE: 17
HOSSA,MARIAN – SHARP,PATRICK – TOEWS,JONATHAN: 16
KADRI,NAZEM – LUPUL,JOFFREY – RAYMOND,MASON: 16
GETZLAF,RYAN – PENNER,DUSTIN – PERRY,COREY: 16
COUTURE,LOGAN – KENNEDY,TYLER – MARLEAU,PATRICK: 16
BROWN,DUSTIN – KOPITAR,ANZE – WILLIAMS,JUSTIN: 15
BARKOV,ALEKSANDER – BOYES,BRAD – FLEISCHMANN,TOMAS: 15
LANDESKOG,GABRIEL – STASTNY,PAUL – TANGUAY,ALEX: 15
CHIASSON,ALEX – EAKIN,CODY – WHITNEY,RAY: 15
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section. Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.