Lining Up: Stacked Lines and Trade Deadline Analysis

by Brennan Des on February 26, 2019
  • Lining Up
  • Lining Up: Stacked Lines and Trade Deadline Analysis


This week is the second of two installments in which we’ll be trying to assess whether certain teams are more likely to stack their top lines or opt for a more balanced attack going forward. We’ll also take a look at how the trade deadline affected certain line combinations around the league.

For the purposes of this article, a ‘stacked’ line includes three players that were in the top 50 of NHL scoring (as of February 12th). In the ‘To Stack’ section, we’ll be looking at lines that aren’t currently rolling their best three forwards on the same line, while the ‘Not to Stack’ section will focus on lines that are currently stacked and may be broken up to spark scoring throughout the lineup. In the table, Left Wing, Center, and Right Wing are general placeholders and represent how the line fares when a certain player is off the ice. So, if you see Center instead of Crosby, it means we’re considering how Guentzel and Kessel perform when their line does not include Crosby. Hopefully everything makes sense as you keep reading, but feel free to ask any questions if something is unclear.


To Stack?


Jake GuentzelSidney CrosbyPhil Kessel



Goals For

Goals Against

Corsi For %


Guentzel – Crosby – Right Wing





Guentzel – Center – Kessel





Guentzel – Crosby – Kessel





Left Wing – Crosby – Kessel





Stats retrieved from NaturalStatTrick


The 2016-2017 season was Mike Sullivan’s first full year as head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Since then, he’s shown a desire to spread scoring throughout the lineup instead of stacking his top line. He never has to play Malkin and Crosby on the same line, because he has capable wingers that give him a chance to play his top two centers on two separate lines (no shade at Oilers fans). As I mentioned in the introductory paragraph, a ‘stacked’ line includes three forwards who are among the top 50 scorers in the NHL. Well, Pittsburgh has four players that fit that criteria – Jake Guentzel, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. After assembling every possible line combination using those four players, I came to the conclusion that Guentzel, Crosby and Kessel have seen the most time together as a trio. You’ll notice that they’ve only played together for 51 minutes this season, which pales in comparison to the ice-time Guentzel and Crosby have seen with other wingers. The reality is, Pittsburgh has two dynamic duos in Crosby-Guentzel and Malkin-Kessel, and those duos are each capable of performing as well as a ‘stacked’ line would.  Since coach Mike Sullivan divides his elite talent across multiple lines, guys like Bryan Rust, Patric Hornqvist, Zach Aston-Reese and Nick Bjugstad can make for viable streaming options in your fantasy league.



Not To Stack?


Johnny GaudreauSean MonahanElias Lindholm



Goals For

Goals Against

Corsi For %


Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm





Gaudreau – Monahan – Right Wing





Gaudreau – Center – Lindholm





Left Wing – Monahan – Lindholm





Stats retrieved from NaturalStatTrick


This is Elias Lindholm’s first season of being an elite fantasy asset, so I can understand if you’re still expecting the wheels to fall off and derail what has been an outstanding season. Now I don’t want you to panic, but Elias Lindholm has been seeing time away from Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan recently, with Matthew Tkachuck taking his place on the top line for short stretches. In all likelihood, Lindholm will see more time on Calgary’s first line than Tkachuk going forward, but it is something to keep an eye on. If you need reassurance, I can tell you that the advanced stats support that Gaudreau and Monahan are better with Lindholm than without him. As you can see in the table above, when Gaudreau, Monahan and Lindholm play together they control a greater percentage of the shot-share and goal-share than when Lindholm is off the line. While the Gaudreau-Monahan-Tkachuk line has been good for possession (58.51 CF%), they’ve only scored two goals in 45 minutes of ice-time, while allowing four. The Flames decided against any major moves at the deadline, so I’m even more confident in the Gaudreau-Monahan-Lindholm line staying intact.



Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronDavid Pastrnak  



Goals For

Goals Against

Corsi For %


Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak





Marchand – Center – Pastrnak





Marchand – Bergeron – Right Wing





Left Wing – Bergeron – Pastrnak





Stats retrieved from NaturalStatTrick


With news out of Boston that David Pastrnak will be out of the lineup for at least two more weeks, it’s clear that the Bruins won’t be able to stack their top line for the next little while. Fortunately, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron play extremely well together, even without Pastrnak on their line (as you can see in row 3 of the table above). Danton Heinen has been the beneficiary of Pasta’s absence, as he’s skating alongside Marchand and Bergeron on the top line. Heinen has eight points in his last nine games and is owned in just 12% of Yahoo leagues. The Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak line has played extremely well this season, controlling 53% of the shot-share and overall generating more scoring chances than their opponents. Not to mention they’ve scored nine goals as a trio and conceded only one.

Fortunately for the Bruins, not only do Bergeron and Marchand work really well as a duo, but so do David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. Krejci has 12 points in his last nine games and DeBrusk has 10 in his last six. The two of them have played more than 500 minutes together this season, during which they’ve outscored opponents 21-14. In addition, they’ve controlled 56% of the shots taken and 53% of the scoring chances generated while they’re on the ice. But how does this all this affect you as a fantasy hockey GM making a final push to the playoffs? Well, for at least the next two weeks, the Bruins will be without David Pastrnak. During those two weeks, we’re probably going to see the Bergeron-Marchand and Krejci-DeBrusk duos stay intact because of how well they’ve been playing. Considering Heinen has done a great job on the top line, that leaves one more spot in the top six that can be filled. Enter the newly acquired Marcus Johansson – who had seven points in his last six games with the Devils. While he might need some time to get to know his teammates (might take some extra effort with Brad Marchand) and adjust to a new system, I think he has the potential to be relevant in fantasy hockey leagues for the rest of this season.



Trade Deadline Changes

A lot of moves were made prior to this year’s trade deadline. If you’re wondering how those moves affect your fantasy hockey team, do yourself a favour and check out DobberHockey’s trade tracker for expert analysis. While some teams haven’t quite revealed how new players will be incorporated into the lineup, here are some combinations we do know:


Derick BrassardTyson JostMatt Calvert (Source)


Artemi PanarinMatt DucheneCam Atkinson (Source)


Ryan DzingelPierre-Luc DuboisOliver Bjorkstrand (Source)


Gustav NyquistJoe ThorntonKevin Labanc (Source)