Eastern Edge: Dynamic duos in the Eastern Conference

by Brennan Des on August 6, 2019
  • Eastern Edge
  • Eastern Edge: Dynamic duos in the Eastern Conference

 

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In this week’s installment of Eastern Edge, we’ll be taking a look at the top 25 scorers from the Eastern Conference during the 2018-2019 season.

 

Rank

Player

Team

Games Played

Goals

Assists

Points

1

Nikita Kucherov

TB

82

41

87

128

2

Brad Marchand

BOS

79

36

64

100

3

Sidney Crosby

PIT

79

35

65

100

4

Steven Stamkos

TB

82

45

53

98

5

Aleksander Barkov

FLA

82

35

61

96

6

Mitch Marner

TOR

82

26

68

94

7

Brayden Point

TB

79

41

51

92

8

Jonathan Huberdeau

FLA

82

30

62

92

9

Alex Ovechkin

WSH

81

51

38

89

10

John Tavares

TOR

82

47

41

88

11

Artemi Panarin

CBJ

79

28

59

87

12

Claude Giroux

PHI

82

22

63

85

13

Sebastian Aho

CAR

82

30

53

83

14

Jack Eichel

BUF

77

28

54

82

15

Phil Kessel

PIT

82

27

55

82

16

David Pastrnak

BOS

66

38

43

81

17

Patrice Bergeron

BOS

65

32

47

79

18

Jake Guentzel

PIT

82

40

36

76

19

Sean Couturier

PHI

80

33

43

76

20

Teuvo Teravainen

CAR

82

21

55

76

21

Mika Zibanejad

NYR

82

30

44

74

22

Nicklas Backstrom

WSH

80

22

52

74

23

Auston Matthews

TOR

68

37

36

73

24

Dylan Larkin

DET

76

32

41

73

25

David Krejci

BOS

81

20

53

73

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upon first glance, you’ll notice that this list is comprised of many dynamic duos – two forwards that played together often and took advantage of their chemistry as they contributed to each other’s point totals. Here are the ones that made the list:

 

Crosby – Guentzel 

 

Barkov – Huberdeau

 

Tavares – Marner

 

Backstrom – Ovechkin

 

Couturier – Giroux

 

 

Aho – Teravainen

 

Brayden PointNikita Kucherov

 

Some of these ‘duos’ are less defined than others. For example, Tampa Bay’s three representatives (Stamkos, Point and Kucherov) played together in various combinations of duos and even as a trio. However, as our handy-dandy line combination tool shows us, Point and Kucherov played together the most. I should also highlight Boston’s top line of Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak securing spots on this list despite the latter two missing a significant portion of the season with injury.

But why did I call attention to these duos and trios? Well, I think acknowledging their existence allows us to better appreciate the players who cracked the top 25 without as much help. In particular, I’m referring to Mika Zibanejad and Dylan Larkin.

Mika Zibanejad played most of last season with guys like Jesper Fast, Mats Zuccarello and Chris Kreider. Now, don’t get me wrong, those are three good hockey players. However, they pale in comparison to the duos and trios I listed above. Fast’s highest career point total is a modest 33 which he tallied in 2017-2018. While Kreider has all the tools to break the 60-point barrier, he hasn’t reached that milestone in his NHL career – which began in 2012. Zuccarello has shown the most offensive output of the three but only played 46 games with the Rangers last season before getting shipped off to Dallas. In short, Zibanejad’s career-high output during the 2018-2019 campaign was not a result of his supporting cast. With that being said, his supporting cast just got a whole lot better.

Zibanejad put up a modest 23 power-play points last year, while most of the league’s top scorers registered 30 to 40 tallies in that category. Now, obviously when new players join a team, there’s no guarantee that they’ll play well together, but I think it’s hard to ignore the amount of talent that was injected into the Rangers’ roster. If Zibanejad can find chemistry with Kaapo Kakko, Artemi Panarin and Jacob Trouba, that’s going to be one filthy power-play unit.

Then there’s Dylan Larkin, who, like Zibanejad, has been able to produce without much of a supporting cast. The similarities don’t end there, as Larkin’s supporting cast has also improved – but in a different way. Tyler Bertuzzi, Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou have shown consistent improvement in their young careers and I think they’ll take huge strides next season. Athanasiou is coming off a 30-goal season, Bertuzzi put up 47 points in 73 games and Mantha is coming off an impressive performance at the IIHF World Cup where he was one of the tournament’s leading scorers with 14 points in nine games. Fantasy hockey managers can often get caught up in the ‘sexy’ playoff teams that boast a lot of talent, but I think you’ll benefit from stealing a few Red Wings in the later rounds of your draft.

A lot goes on during the course of a season and it can be hard to keep track of every story line. During the offseason, it’s incredibly useful to review the leaderboards and familiarize yourself with some occurrences you might have missed or forgotten. Going into your draft it’s useful to keep these things in mind as they’re easy to forget. Here are a few examples of what I mean:

 

  • 33-year-old David Krejci scored 73 points last year. It’s easy to say his production will decrease going forward, but I advise you to keep an eye on him and Jake Debrusk during the 2019-2020 campaign.

 

 

  • Sean Couturier quietly put up 76 points in 80 games. I recall a great amount of pessimism surrounding Couturier’s production when he suffered a couple of knee injuries heading into the season.