The first time I ever wrote for this website some time ago, I did a piece on the advantages of owning linemates on your fantasy hockey squad. Owning the likes of Tyler Seguin/Jamie Benn, P.K. Subban/Andrei Markov, and Claude Giroux/Jakub Voracek across several seasons past, I was fortunate to go on and have success in the road to the league title(s). This is a topic that seems to see a fifty-fifty split in for and against and no side is more correct than the other, but this article is not to serve argumentative purpose. Here I want to address some dominant duos that were more than capable of being drafted in your respective drafts leading into the year and are certainly providing you with some healthy production.
When I realized my good friend had united these two on his squad in our draft, I immediately texted him a very profanity laced tirade along with a well done to top it off. One of the more unheralded tandems in this league still if you ask me, Gaudreau and Monahan have been a force offensively this season with both well on their way to 70-plus points apiece by the end, Gaudreau with a good chance for 85-plus. In a 12-team league in ESPN, both were attainable in Rounds 5-7 making them each a respective steal for the draft price paid. They start this article off because there may not be a more locked in pair in the league and I don’t think Glen Gulutzan would separate them for anything which makes him a wise individual.
Thus far these two have collectively provided 32 goals, 54 assists, 227 shots, and 26 PPP, while Gaudreau currently sits at plus-11 and Monahan at plus-12. Both are giving you a nice spread across the production board while doing nothing to hurt your team’s chances through the first half so there could really be no case against uniting the two on your roster. Beyond even strength they further their collective oomph together on the primary power play unit giving you opportunities for two-point plays quite often. As far as being the focal points of an offense, these two are about as locked into said roles as any player(s) across the league on a Flames team where the talent level drops off in significant fashion beyond the top line. With Micheal Ferland seemingly locked in to complete the trio and consistently scoring goals, expect this twosome to continue paying fantasy dividends for you the rest of the campaign.
This power duo needs to be touched upon because it has more than likely been forgotten with Horvat out injured. The continued ascent of Boeser in his absence has sent the fantasy world into a tizzy and rightfully so but one must not forget that a large part of his rise was being paired with the underrated two-way center in Horvat. Now as Horvat nears his return after a long absence, I put this duo here for if you’re a lucky owner of Boeser now is the time to target Horvat before he returns, and they go on a run. It would be doubtful as an owner of Horvat to acquire Boeser without paying a king’s ransom now, but if you’ve invested in this duo it paid dividends early on and such should be the case upon the center’s return.
Boeser has remained a consistent option in Horvat’s absence alongside the likes of Sam Gagner as his center during this time. Kudos to Gagner in his journeyman ways, but he is far from a number one center therefore we should see Horvat and Boeser reunited once again for certain. Being they were playing together with an accompanying third piece 75% of the time at even strength, it’s a pretty sure thing to happen either immediately or in a short timeframe. Now with Baertschi already back, by the time Horvat rejoins the Canucks his familiar linemates will be in mid-season form. There’s no denying prior to injury Horvat was in the midst of a season seeing him take the next step, posting a 0.71 point/PG pace with 20 in 28 games played. If you have the potential to acquire the secondary piece to unite the two on your fantasy roster do so now and reap the rewards in the second half.
Whilst everyone is raving about Giroux’s revitalization, I am personally hexing him for after four loyal years of drafting him and watching those point totals decline season after season I am rewarded this campaign seeing him return to elite “Jagr-era” production on another squad….awesome sauce. Nonetheless the premier playmaker is back in force once again providing dumb founding power play production and thanks to his declining totals over the years, lucky fantasy managers found themselves getting the elite distributor in the sixth round on average this time around. He’s rewarding those savvy owners with a season that sees him among but a small handful of players working towards the 100-point barrier. Most impressive regarding Giroux’s production rate is his stark drop off in offensive zone starting percentage, going from routinely seeing above 50% since 2013-14 to now only 43.5% of the time. Despite this his pts/60 sits at 3.7 so the shift to wing although still receiving face-offs routinely is working wonders for his game.
Couturier is on pace for an eye popping 45-goals. Though not even I expected anything close to this ever from him, people should remember that on top of being a defensive stalwart he was an offensive dynamo in the QMJHL with back-to-back 96-point seasons in his final two years. Seeing ample time with Giroux and the likes of Jakub Voracek who is handing assists out like charity does play a part in Couturier’s uptick in points. Still there’s no denying the fact he is taking the next step in his own right as he’s shown flashes of brilliance like this in the past. As with Giroux, the production is impressive being deployed primarily in the defensive zone. Much like Monahan and Gaudreau, anyone lucky enough to own this pair not only capitalize on shared even strength scoring but they also are out on the ice together on the primary power play unit. If these two continue producing at their current rates we are looking at 160 points combined between the two, as a floor. With a realistic ability for 40-plus of said points on the man advantage, owning this pair is criminal. Sit back and enjoy the production as Giroux is seemingly back at full health after years of injury plague and relishing in their undeniable chemistry.
Aleksander Barkov is the rudest player in the NHL. By rude I don’t mean in a manners sense, but by the embarrassment he causes goaltenders. If you did not see his recent shootout goal on Sergei Bobrovsky where he faked an in-between the legs shot and ruined his life please follow the link below and have a moment of silence afterwards for the poor netminder. (skip to 01:12)
Obscured from view in Sunrise, Florida, Barkov, Huberdeau and Vincent Trocheck are never going to receive the love they deserve across the league. All three are playing defender minutes and scoring at an elite clip but nobody seems to praise their contributions. Alas let’s focus on the power duo that is Barkov/Huberdeau.
Should he ever stay healthy I think Barkov is an essential lock for 75-points season after season. Yet with not one full campaign yet under his belt now in his fifth year, one has to hope this is it. So far so good with 41 games played and 40 points total. His pts/60 is directly in line with the season prior but his point/PG pace has risen from 0.84 to almost point per game at 0.98. This is a dominant player there are no if ands or buts about it. Now 22 years of age and filled out he is an absolute physical specimen with foul skill and elite intelligence that must be respected. Huberdeau much like Barkov has always had the ability to score but he too in all his years has never played 82 games. With 43 points in 42 games played to this point he’s on track to cross the 80-point barrier and should you own both you’re looking at a collective 150 points with over 30 coming on the power play between them. This is the most ideal pair to own when looking beyond the injury concerns as Barkov plays top pair defense minutes every single game while Huberdeau routinely sees around 20 minutes which is nothing to sneeze at. Like Barkov, Huberdeau sits now on the highest point/PG pace of his career and should this be the year they both contribute full campaigns we’re looking at the arguably deadliest duo of them all. To think these two were to be had in Rounds 7 and 8 in drafts and producing as they are makes any and all who possess the pair one wise manager.
So does anyone still not believe in Anders Lee or are we finally done with that bologna? Dating back to the midway point of last season when these two started riding shotgun with each other this has become one of the most dominant tandems the league has to offer. Tavares with his elite vision, skill and playmaking capabilities coupled with the imposing power forward with great hands that lives for net front presence, they’ve been the driving force behind the Islanders offense. Not entirely sure of the stat but I believe it’s something along the lines of since the calendar flipped to 2017, nobody has scored more goals than Anders Lee besides the likes of far higher pedigree names in Nikita Kucherov and Alexander Ovechkin. Plain and simple Lee has become a premier goal scorer and yes Tavares absolutely plays his part in this, but they clearly feed off each other and Doug Weight knows what he has in this behemoth duo.
The beauty of owning this pair is that both came at great draft prices with Tavares attainable in the third round and Lee beyond Round 10! One off year for Tavares shouldn’t have discounted him as so but now working towards 90-plus points in a contract year you have to be confident the bounce back will continue. Currently these two have provided 47 goals, 44 assists, 241 shots, 27 PPP and are minus-5 collectively. The only knock is on plus minus which is a trivial stat, but their combined scoring is obscene. You’re looking at a 150-point floor combined from the two going forth and a real shot at 50-plus PP points! For two players to provide that ability for double point plays at even strength and on the primary power play together makes them a strong deployment. The Islanders are one of the more potent offenses in the league today and should they ever acquire something above the mediocre goaltending they have currently you’re looking at a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. Trust Weight to keep Tavares/Lee together until the end of time itself.
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