Although the season is still young and teams continue to shuffle around their forward line combinations, there are some which already found chemistry. But which is the best line for every team so far this season? I have come up with a proposal and short explanation for each team. Feel free to use the comment section at the end of this article to let us know your opinions.
Rickard Rakell – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Most fantasy team owners keep an eye on who is playing with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry in order to boost their point production with the help of playing next to Perry/Getzlaf. This season, the Ducks still look for the perfect match for their two superstars. So far, I liked Rickard Rakell the most because the Swede plays an efficient two-way game and lets Getzlaf/Perry focus on the offensive side of the game.
Max Domi – Antoine Vermette – Mikkel Boedker
The strong season start of the Coyotes came quite as a surprise to most of us, including me. One of the reasons for the strong start is surely how well rookie Max Domi plays. He is among the team’s best scorers together with Mikkel Boedker and Martin Hanzal. It was a tough race between this and the Hanzal/Duclair line, but in my eyes Domi and Boedker are able to produce more offence than Hanzal/Duclair.
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Jimmy Hayes
Which is the Bruins top line, the duo Marchand/Bergeron or Krejci/Eriksson? Probably one of toughest decisions, as both lines are having a great start. Krejci even used to be the league leader in points for some days, but I have decided to go for the above three guys as the Bruins top line, also because I like the physical presence of Jimmy Hayes next to Marchand/Bergeron. Matt Beleskey on the other hand is still struggling, although he is mostly on the line with Krejci and Eriksson.
Jamie McGinn – Jack Eichel – Tyler Ennis
There is a good combination of speed and skill on this line and I liked how they play together. However, Evander Kane will most certainly replace Jamie McGinn on Jack Eichel’s wing. This will make this line better as Kane’s physical element will help Eichel/Ennis to open up space.
Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Jiri Hudler
This line was the best for the Flames last season and the same goes for this year as well. The struggling Flames can rely on their top three forwards, Gaudreau leads the team in points and there is no sign of a sophomore slump so far for the Boston College graduate.
Kris Versteeg – Eric Staal – Victor Rask
Life remains tough for Hurricanes fans also this season. However, one gleam of hope is the good season start of newly acquired Kris Versteeg. He is performing quite well together with Eric Staal and Victor Rask.
Artemi Panarin – Artem Anisimov – Patrick Kane
Rookie sensation Artemi Panarin is one of the biggest surprises of the season so far and builds one of the most exciting lines of the entire NHL together with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov. Panarin and Kane are both among the top ten point leaders. Anisimov completes the line with a good two-way game. This line showed great chemistry in the first quarter of the season.
Gabriel Landeskog – Nathan MacKinnon – Matt Duchene
The early struggle of Matt Duchene has forced Patrick Roy to make some line adjustments. Since Duchene is on the first line together with Gabe Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon, the goal production went up and this is clearly the most dominant Avalanche line. However, Colorado’s success is very dependent on those three players.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Boone Jenner – Ryan Johansen – Brandon Saad
The Blue Jackets started the season with Nick Foligno on this line’s wing and they looked promising in the pre-season. However, the team’s devastating start led to line shuffles as a consequence. John Tortorella has put Boone Jenner on the first line and this combination seems to be a good match. Jenner was one of the most consistent Blue Jacket so far this season.
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Patrick Sharp
The heaviest pure offensive line in the league as of now. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin are among the league leaders. Enough said.
Detroit Red Wings
Justin Abdelkader – Henrik Zetterberg – Dylan Larkin
I like Henrik Zetterberg best when he plays at center and builds a line with goal scorer Dylan Larkin and Justin Abdelkader on the wing. They have shown some early chemistry, but with Pavel Datsyuk back in the line up, the Red Wings are still somehow in search of their perfect line matches.
Taylor Hall – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Leon Draisaitl
Tough decision for Edmonton as they have seen their top guys Connor McDavid and Jordan Eberle missing games due to injuries. That was the chance for prospect Leon Draisaitl, who is absolutely on fire and builds a dynamic duo with Taylor Hall.
Jonathan Huberdeau – Aleksander Barkov – Jaromir Jagr
Not much of a discussion here, after Aleksander Barkov returned from his injury, the Panthers most dominant line is re-united and will continue to produce the most points for Florida. If this line can stay healthy, the Panthers remain in the race of a playoff spot.
Los Angeles Kings
Milan Lucic – Jeff Carter – Tyler Toffoli
Clearly the best line for the Kings. While it is no secret that Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli are a good match, it seems that newly acquired Milan Lucic is a good fit for those two guys. This line is currently clearly ahead of the line featuring Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik and Tanner Pearson.
Jason Zucker – Mikko Koivu – Nino Niederreiter
This line started surprisingly strong into the season and has earned the selection as Minnesota’s top line. Once Zach Parise returns from his injury, his line mates Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville will surely pick up the pace, but for the first quarter of the season it was Zucker/Koivu/Niederreiter who played the best for the Wild.
Max Pacioretty – Tomas Plekanec – Brendan Gallagher
The sensational start for the Habs has a lot to do with the early chemistry of this line. All three sit on top of the internal scoring list and build the most dangerous line for the Montreal Canadiens. This line brings along skill, grit, offence and defence.
Filip Forsberg – Mike Fisher – James Neal
Like each season the Predators have great depth in their lines and therefore it is extremely tough to define a top line. I have come up with the three guys above because I like the chemistry. James Neal is the team’s best goal scorer and together with Filip Forsberg there is a lot of fire power on this line. I go with Mike Fisher on center position instead of Mike Ribeiro because Fisher needs to provide defensive responsibility next to those two offensive minded players.
New Jersey Devils
Mike Cammalleri – Adam Henrique – Lee Stempniak
The Free Agent signing of Lee Stempniak turns out to be a great deal for the Devils. Together with Mike Cammalleri and Adam Henrique he combines for New Jersey’s top line, slightly ahead of the duo Palmieri/Zajac.
New York Islanders
Brock Nelson – John Tavares – Kyle Okposo
The experiment of having John Tavares and Ryan Strome together on a line was over when the Islanders sent Strome down to the AHL. Kyle Okposo, Tavares’ line mate last season, took over Strome’s spot on the first line. Tavares and Okposo have good chemistry and need to be together. Brock Nelson seems to be an effective addition.
New York Rangers
Rick Nash– Derick Brassard – Mats Zuccarello
Not much of a discussion here, this line is without any doubt the most dominant for the Rangers and one of the most exciting to watch in the entire league until now. Mats Zuccarello is on pace to play his most productive season.
Stepan: "I don't know if there is a guy playing better hockey right now in the NHL than Mats Zuccarello." Well, maybe not in the East…
— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) November 16, 2015
Mike Hoffman – Kyle Turris – Mark Stone
Kyle Turris, Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone are off to a great start and earn the selection of the Senators top line. The duo Zibanejad/Ryan clicks as well, although Bobby Ryan lately had some shifts with Hoffman and Turris.
Brayden Schenn – Claude Giroux – Jakub Voracek
The Flyers are struggling scoring goals and are one of the worst teams in this matter. The duo Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek which worked very well last season, has room for improvement. Still, they are the most dangerous line for their hockey club. I have decided in favour of Brayden Schenn on the wing because he is bringing a better physical edge to the game than for example Michael Raffl.
David Perron – Evgeni Malkin – Phil Kessel
Like the Flyers, also the Pittsburgh Penguins are struggling scoring goals. Especially the duo Crosby/Kessel didn’t work as well as the team has hoped. Coach Mike Johnston put Phil Kessel together with Evgeni Malkin after some games, which seems to work out better so far.
San Jose Sharks
Patrick Marleau – Tomas Hertl – Joel Ward
I liked this line a lot when coach Peter DeBoer used Tomas Hertl to center the second line and have decided to select this as the Sharks top line, also because the duo Thornton/Pavelski shows room for improvement early in the season. However, once Logan Couture returns from his injury he will most certainly take back the second center position.
St. Louis Blues
Alex Steen – Paul Stastny – Vladimir Tarasenko
Alex Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko are the team’s best wingers without doubt. The question remains who fits best on the center position. Right now it is Jori Lehtera and David Backes who replace Paul Stastny as first center, but once Stastny is back from his injury I’d like to see him lined up between Steen and Tarasenko as this worked out pretty well at the beginning of the season.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Alex Killorn – Tyler Johnson – Nikita Kucherov
The Lightning had to shuffle the lines quite a bit because of injuries. I liked their first line featuring Jonathan Drouin, Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan, but Drouin got injured early in the season. Same goes for the “triplet” line as Tyler Johnson is day-to-day and Ondrej Palat will miss an extended period of time. Alex Killorn replaces Palat and brings more physical edge to the second line.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Shawn Matthias – Tyler Bozak – P.A. Parenteau
It was a tight decision between this line and the Kadri one. I went with Shawn Matthias, Tyler Bozak and P.A. Parenteau because of the strong performance of Bozak. The center is off to a good start and continued to perform well after a minor injury, which kept him sidelined for a couple of games.
Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Jannik Hansen
The Sedin twins still do the trick for the Canucks. Henrik and Daniel are leading their team in scoring, third is Dane Jannik Hansen, who I have selected on the wing to support the Sedins defensively and in the physical department.
What a masterpiece by the Sedins. They still got it.
— Jason Brough (@JasonBroughTSN) November 22, 2015
Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – T.J. Oshie
Although Evgeny Kuznetsov successfully replaced Nicklas Backstrom on the top line due to an injury, I have decided to go with the duo Ovechkin/Backstrom for the top line. Backtrom’s vision and playmaking skills are the perfect match for Ovechkin’s scoring ability. Because of Ovechkin’s improved own zone game and T.J. Oshie’s ability to play a successful two-way game, this line is better than last year’s edition.
Andrew Ladd – Brian Little – Blake Wheeler
This line exists in Winnipeg since a while and is still working well. There are components of playmaking, strong two-way game, scoring and size on this line. It is the most dominant combination for the Jets since a long time. After a good start, the Jets have struggled as of lately and this is also reflecting the performance of their top line. Watch out for the Jets’ second line around Mathieu Perreault, Mark Scheifele and Drew Stafford to make some noise soon too.
Please note that I have considered only real line combinations in this article. They are not made up and all of the above mentioned lines have played together like this in more than just 1-2 shifts. A line needs to have a certain percentage on Leftwinglock.com.
Independent Scout covering European Hockey and Prospects for TheHockeyWriters. Located in Switzerland and blogging on www.scouting-factory.blogspot.com. Opinions on blog are my own