Owning both members of a dynamite duo can be one of the most fun aspects of fantasy hockey. After all, every time one of your players gets a point, there’s a good chance you’ll pick up a second point. (Conversely, one of the frustrating aspects is when that duo goes ice cold for five straight games).
I wrote a list about the top 10 duos about three years ago. So much has changed since then. Chris Kunitz is no longer playing in Pittsburgh alongside Sidney Crosby. The Sedins are being usurped by a better duo. Phil Kessel no longer plays in Toronto.
What’s most interesting is that the top duo (Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf) at the time didn’t even crack the top 10 for this one. Here is the percentage of Ryan Getzlaf’s 5-on-5 shifts where Perry was also on the ice for the last few seasons.
2013-14: 91 per cent
2014-15: 83.7 per cent
2015-16: 60.7 per cent
2016-17: 56.4 per cent
Throw in the fact that Perry’s game is declining and Getzlaf has only played six contests this year because of injury, and this is not a duo you can count on anymore.
John Tavares also doesn’t make this this as he is so special that he performs well no matter who he lines up with (Josh Bailey, Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle, Kyle Okposo, the hot dog vendor in section 204, Matt Moulson, etc.).
So, who are the top duos in the NHL? Just a few rules before we begin. These duos line up together consistently. So that means you won’t see Evgeni Makin and Sidney Crosby. We’re also mostly looking at even strength time together.
All time-on-ice stats from Natural Stat Trick. Percentage calculations from those stats were done by me.
This is a good example of a long-time duo that would be higher if they played more often together. Seguin has played on 67 percent of Benn’s even-strength ice time. That may sound like a lot, but it’s not as top duos generally line up together 90 percent of the time. Last year, Seguin played on 56 percent of Benn’s 5-on-5 shifts. Two years ago, it was at 89 percent. Back to this season, Seguin has been on the ice for only six of Benn’s 13 even-strength points. Unless they start playing together more often, they can’t be considered any higher.
A week ago, this couple probably wouldn’t have made the list. Despite their years of dominance, they were mostly split up through the team’s first 22 games. Alexander Ovechkin excelled. Backstrom not so much. They’ve been reunited in the past three games and Ovechkin has five goals and Backstrom four points in those three games. We’re now at the stage where there’s no guarantee they’ll be consistent even-strength line mates, but the threat is always there.
Schwartz was never all that fantasy relevant until this season where he is having a tremendous break-out campaign, but he has a history of being Tarasenko’s right-hand man. Although they don’t play together as often as many on this list (Tarasenko is on the ice for just 61 per cent of Schwartz’s even-strength ice time). Schwartz has 32 points, 27 of them at even strength. A big part of that is because of his chemistry with Tank.
This duo is ranked lower because of a small sample size (Boeser has only played 21 games this year and 30 for his career). Horvat has been on the ice for 17 of Boeser’s 22 points and 81 per cent of his even-strength ice time. We’ll have to see if they can keep this up over 82 games, but this duo could be top three in a couple of years.
It’s no question that whomever plays with McDavid is going to see a boost in production. The problem for many Edmonton players is that they aren’t very good when they are away from McDavid. Although the two have great chemistry together, the Oilers need more offense from non-McDavid lines and so Draisaitl gets bumped to another line to try to spread the offense out. If they played together more frequently (about 70 per cent of McDavid’s 5-on-5 ice time is with Draisaitl), they’d be much higher on this list.
Huberdeau could easily have been listed with Evgenii Dadonov but he has a greater history with Barkov. Barkov has been on the ice for all but one of Huberdeau’s 22 points and has been on the ice for 91 percent of Huberdeau’s even-strength shifts. Last year, it was at 87 percent and the year before that was 81 percent. The two have excellent chemistry together and this year could be their major coming out party.
This year’s numbers between these two teammates are slightly skewed as Bergeron missed the team’s first two games and Marchand the last six, meaning they’ve only played together for 14 games. Marchand has played 87 percent of all of his even-strength shifts with Bergeron and 13 percent without. Last year, Bergeron was on the ice for 88 percent of Marchand’s even-strength shifts as Marchand had a surprising 85-point season.
It must be a great feeling for Flames fans to know these two players are locked up for the next five seasons with excellent cap hits. Gaudreau has played 90 percent of Monahan’s 5-on-5 shifts and the two have combined for 60 points this year. How much of a breakout season could this be for Monahan, who is usually good for 60-ish points? Imagine if he finishes as an 80-point player. That makes him even more valuable in leagues.
We shouldn’t have been surprised that Stamkos is the league’s leader in points. A year ago, Stamkos had 20 points in 17 games before missing the rest of the season with an injury. Kucherov was his most frequent line mate, but only played about 67 percent of Stamkos’ 5-on-5 ice time. This year, Kucherov has been on the ice for 90 percent of Stamkos’ 5 on 5 ice time. They’ve only been together for about 40 games but they are magical. However, I’d like to see them play a full season together before crowning them number one.
These two players are pretty much as tight as players could be and Giroux has been on the ice for every single one of Voracek’s 29 points. Voracek has played 313:31 even strength minutes with Giroux this year and only 24:28 without. It’s even crazier when you consider that Voracek has played 75:08 of power play time, and Giroux has been on the ice for 72:16 of it. Sean Couturier deserves some credit for both Giroux and Voracek having bounce-back seasons, but the duo has played together for so long it doesn’t really matter who the third guy is on their line.
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