NHL Power Rankings: Ranking Each Team's Best Ever Scoring Duo
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The most memorable moments and the best plays in hockey history live on in our memories—and videotape—and they remain cemented there forever.
In most cases, the greatest memories are offensive plays. The superb pass leads to a perfect shot and the back of the net bulges.
In this piece we look at the greatest scoring duo in each team's history. If a team like the Colorado Avalanche started off in Quebec City, we include the exploits of Nordiques players. The accomplishments of the Minnesota North Stars are included on the Dallas Stars. The Phoenix Coyotes include the "old" Winnipeg Jets, while the new Winnipeg Jets include the old Atlanta Thrashers.
Scoring duos had to play together. Gordie Howe and Steve Yzerman are arguably the two best Detroit Red Wings, but they did not play together, so that is not an eligible duo. They don't necessarily have to have played on the same line, but they must have a strong association.
Here's our look at the top scoring duos in each team's history.
No. 30 Columbus Blue Jackets: Rick Nash and David Vyborny
The Blue Jackets don't have much glory, and their history pales compared to nearly every other team in the league, but at least they had the duo of Rick Nash and David Vyborny.
Nash was clearly the best player in franchise history. He scored 289 goals and 547 points, while No. 2 scorer Vyborny had 317 points for the Blue Jackets.
No. 29 Florida Panthers: Olli Jokinen and Stephen Weiss
That's why they brought Dale Tallon in to serve as their general manager. Ownership wants to see the Panthers make the playoffs regularly and play like they did last year when they won the Southeast Division and extended the New Jersey Devils to seven games in their playoff series.
To do that consistently, they will need more players like Olli Jokinen and Stephen Weiss. Jokinen and Weiss head the team's all-time leading scorer list. Jokinen and Weiss were teammates from 2001 through 2008. Jokinen scored 419 points during his tenure with the Panthers, while Weiss has 390 points.
No. 28 Nashville Predators: Shea Weber and David Legwand
David Legwand is the leading scorer in Predators history with 501 points, so he's an easy choice.
Shea Weber's laser-like shot from the point gives him a slight edge over veteran forward Martin Erat, who is the second-leading scorer in Predators' history.
Legwand is a scorer and a finisher; while Weber's all-around offensive talent, and the speed and explosiveness of his shot make him part of this scoring duo.
No. 27 Minnesota Wild: Marian Gaborik and Mikko Koivu
The Wild do not have a long or glorious history, and general manager Chuck Fletcher hopes a corner was turned in the offseason when Minnesota signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to turn the fortunes of the franchise around.
However, the Wild's best scoring duo to this point has been Mikko Koivu and Marian Gaborik. Koivu remains with the Wild, while Gaborik is now one of the leading scorers for the New York Rangers. Koivu is an outstanding playmaker when healthy, while the explosive Gaborik has the speed to blow by defensemen and the skill to finish off scoring plays.
The two played together with the Wild between 2005 and 2009.
No. 26 Winnipeg Jets: Ilya Kovalchuk and Marc Savard
The "new" Jets are preparing for their second season in Winnipeg.
Prior to last season, they made their home in Atlanta as the Thrashers. Between 2002 and 2006, teammates Ilya Kovalchuk and Marc Savard performed some magical feats for the franchise.
Kovalchuk is one of the most dangerous shooters in the game, while Savard was one of the slickest passers before concussion problems forced him to the sidelines. While both would go on to greater heights with new teams, Atlanta hockey fans got to see a shockingly good duo work their magic together.
No. 25 Carolina Hurricanes: Ron Francis and Kevin Dineen
While the Hurricanes have had star players, the best scoring duo for this franchise was the combination of Ron Francis and Kevin Dineen of the Hartford Whalers.
Francis is a Hall-of-Fame player who started his career with the Whalers and ended it with the Hurricanes. Dineen played his first eight seasons with the Whalers before being traded to the Flyers and came back to the Hurricanes later in his career.
Francis was a powerful offensive player who could skate well, make plays and put the puck in the net. Dineen was a powerful force who had two 40-plus goal seasons with the Whalers.
No. 24 Calgary Flames: Theo Fleury and Al MacInnis
It's hard to do this panel and not include Jarome Iginla, the team's all-time leading scorer.
However, when you look at the history of the Flames franchise, it's best to honor the lone championship in the team's history.
The Flames won the Stanley Cup in 1989, and explosive forward Theo Fleury and hard-shooting defenseman Al MacInnis were both key members of that team. Fleury is the second-leading scorer in team history behind Iginla with 830 points, while MacInnis had 822 points.
Fleury and MacInnis were teammates from 1988 through 1994.
No. 23 Dallas Stars: Mike Modano and Neal Broten
Mike Modano played the first four years of his career with the Minnesota North Stars, and Neal Broten played the majority of his career in Minnesota, but he did spend one year with the team after it moved to Dallas.
Modano was the consummate playmaker throughout his career, combining his brilliant skating with precision passing and clutch scoring. He is often considered among the top American-born players in NHL history. Broten was a hard-working forward who scored clutch goals and played with verve and determination on an every night basis.
No. 22 Phoenix Coyotes: Dale Hawerchuk and Thomas Steen
It's hard not to include Shane Doan, who has been with the Coyotes every year of their existence and even played in their last season in Winnipeg, but we are going old-school with Dale Hawerchuck and Thomas Steen. Those two played for the"old" Winnipeg Jets.
Hawerchuk did not look like a standout player because he lacked size and was not an overly impressive skater, but he could play the game like few others. He burst onto the scene with 103 points in his rookie year of 1981-82, and there was no stopping him.
Steen also started his career in 1981-82, and he was the model of consistency for the Jets.
No. 21 New Jersey Devils: Patrik Elias and Zach Parise
The Devils have been one of the best and most consistent NHL franchises since they won the Stanley Cup in 1995.
However, the first thing that comes to mind with the team is not the ability to streak up and down the ice and score goals. It's about playing defense, frustrating opponents and turning things over to goalie Martin Brodeur to lock down the victory.
When it comes to the best scoring duo in the franchise's history, you have to take a strong look at Patrik Elias and Zach Parise. While Parise will be wearing a Minnesota Wild uniform from this point forward, his magic as a skater, forechecker and scorer has driven the Devils since his rookie season in 2005-06. Elias is the leading scorer in team history with 894 points in 1,042 games.
No. 20 San Jose Sharks: Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau
Joe Thornton was the No. 1 draft pick for the Boston Bruins in 1997.
The Bruins were counting on Thornton becoming a leader for the franchise who would return it to glory.
While there was plenty of talent, there was something missing, and the Bruins traded Thornton to the San Jose Sharks.
Thornton took advantage of his new home and developed a brilliant rapport with high-scoring winger Patrick Marleau. Together, they have become the leaders of this perennial Western Conference contender.
While they have never made it to the Stanley Cup Finals, they are the two leading scorers in Sharks history, and they have teamed up for many big goals.
No. 19 Toronto Maple Leafs: Darryl Sittler and Dave Keon
Unlike Original Six franchises like Montreal, Detroit, Boston and New York, the Maple Leafs don't have a lot of explosive scorers in their history.
Clearly, Mats Sundin is at the top of any list of all-time great Leafs players, but he really did not have teammates who compared with him and played at Sundin's level.
You have to go back to the days of Dave Keon and Darryl Sittler. The pair played together between 1970 and 1975. Keon actually started 10 years before Sittler in 1960-61.
Sittler's most memorable achievement was his 10-point night in an 11-4 victory over the Boston Bruins in 1976.
No. 18 Washington Capitals: Peter Bondra and Mike Gartner
This selection is probably more notable for who is not on it than the superb Peter Bondra and Mike Gartner.
You would think that Alex Ovechkin would have to be on this list, but he has not been the prolific scorer the last two years that he was earlier in his career.
No. 17 Ottawa Senators: Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson
The Senators have had their highs and lows since entering the league as an expansion franchise in 1993, but there's not much argument as to their two leading offensive players.
Daniel Alfredsson sits on top of the team's all-time leading scorers list, and Jason Spezza is second. Alfredsson has been the franchise's best player since joining them in 1995-96, while Spezza has been an offensive force since 2002-03.
The two have the kind of chemistry that often leads to quick-strike goals. Alfredsson has 1,082 points in 1,131 games for the Sens.
No. 16 Tampa Bay Lightning: Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis
No offense to Vinny Lecavalier and Brad Richards, but the two most explosive players in Tampa Bay Lightning history are high-scoring Steven Stamkos and super-quick Martin St. Louis.
St. Louis is second in all-time scoring on the Lightning with 832 points. Lecavalier has 842 points.
Stamkos is coming off a 60-goal season and should remain at the top of the goal-scoring ladder in the NHL for years to come. St. Louis retains his speed and playmaking ability even though he passed his 37th birthday during the summer.
Stamkos has a rocket of a shot, but he is a deft passer and he can feed St. Louis for highlight-film goals.
No. 15 Anaheim Ducks: Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya
Paul Kariya was an amazing player throughout his run with the Ducks. He was a stellar skater who could use his speed to get past defenders, break into the open and pass the puck with precision and pace.
More often than not, it was Teemu Selanne who was on the receiving end of most of his passes. Selanne remains with the Ducks, but it was during his partnership with Kariya that he was at his explosive best, beating goaltenders with his vicious wrist shot or clever backhands and deflections.
You will see Selanne and Kariya atop the Ducks' all-time scoring list, and their work together was akin to artistry. Selanne has scored 937 points in two tours of duty with the Ducks, while Kariya scored 669 points.
No. 14 Vancouver Canucks: Henrik and Daniel Sedin
The Canucks had one of the most explosive speedsters in NHL history in Pavel Bure. The Russian Rocket was unstoppable, and he deserves consideration along with the team's all-time leading scorer, Markus Naslund, as the best scoring duo in team history.
However, Henrik and Daniel Sedin have more than lived up to the hype since coming into the league in the 2000-01 season. They are both brilliant passers and playmakers, and Daniel has proven to be more of a threat as a goal scorer than his brother.
Their play together is often breathtaking. While they take quite a bit of criticism for their lack of physical play, the Canucks have become one of the most consistent teams in the league with the Sedin twins leading the way. Henrik Sedin is the second-leading scorer in Canucks' history, while Daniel is fourth.
No. 13 Philadelphia Flyers: Bobby Clarke and Bill Barber
The Philadelphia Flyers have been one of the most colorful and controversial team in NHL history.
The team has been a consistent contender, but the Flyers have not brought the Stanley Cup home since Bobby Clarke and Bill Barber led the Flyers to consecutive championships in 1973-74 and 1974-75.
Those two still sit atop the Flyers' all-time scoring list. Clarke was loved in Philadelphia and hated around the league for his win-at-all costs style that often led to vicious play. Barber was no shrinking violet, but he had an excellent burst of speed and a rocket shot that he could get away in an instant.
Clarke had 1,210 points in his Flyers career, while Barber had 883 points.
No. 12 Colorado Avalanche: Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg
The incredibly skilled duo of Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg would seem to be an easy selection for the Colorado Avalanche.
However, when you also include this franchise's roots as the Nordiques in Quebec City, you have to give strong consideration to Peter and Anton Statsny. A third brother, Marian, would eventually join Peter and Anton and form a dominating scoring trio.
But as far as 1-2 punch goes, Sakic and Forsberg had it all. Both were brilliant skaters, passers and clutch scorers. The team was a perennial Stanley Cup contender and two-time Cup winner after it moved to Colorado, and Forsberg and Sakic were two of the biggest reasons it won hockey's biggest prize.
No. 11 New York Rangers: Jean Ratelle and Rod Gilbert
Throughout the late 1960s and the early 1970s, the New York Rangers were becoming one of the best teams in the NHL.
They had the goaltending with Ed Giacomin and Gilles Villemure, a defense led by Brad Park and Jim Neilson and explosive scoring from the GAG line.
That line consisted of Jean Ratelle, Rod Gilbert and Vic Hadfield. Ratelle and Gilbert were brilliant skaters and scorers, while Hadfield was a plugger with a heavy shot.
Ratelle was the Rangers' (and later the Bruins') version of Jean Beliveau. He was a classy player who came through in pressure situations. Gilbert was a glamorous New York star who had a brilliant slapshot.
Gilbert remains the Rangers' all-time leading scorer with 1,021 points, while Ratelle is third.
No. 10 St. Louis Blues: Brett Hull and Adam Oates
Brett Hull and Adam Oates were both brilliant players when they were on their own. However, when they played together with the St. Louis Blues, they formed one of the best scoring duos in the history of the league.
In addition to the numbers—Hull had 936 points for the Blues, while Oates had 286—it was the rhythm and the ease with which they played with each other that made them so dangerous and memorable together.
Hull, of course, was a sniper who would become one of the best goal scorers in the history of the game. Oates may have been the sport's best passer outside of Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.
Together, Hull and Oates made magic on the ice.
No. 9 Buffalo Sabres: Gilbert Perreault and Rick Martin
The NHL used a Wheel of Fortune-type spinner to determine whether the Canucks or Sabres would get the No. 1 pick in the draft. The Sabres came up winners and selected the prized Gilbert Perreault.
His brilliance and speed were apparent from the start, and he soon became one of the best players in the league. The Sabres would add hard-shooting Richard Martin a year later, and the two would become one of the most explosive duos in the league and gave the new Buffalo franchise instant credibility.
Perreault played with the Sabres through 1987 and remains the team's leading scorer with 1,326 points. Martin played with the Sabres through 1981 and has 695 points.
They played with talented former Pittsburgh Penguin Rene Robert and the "French Connection Line" became one of the most overpowering lines in the NHL.
No. 8 Detroit Red Wings: Steve Yzerman and Nicklas Lidstrom
The Red Wings represent a classic argument between new school and old school.
You can easily pick Steve Yzerman and Nicklas Lidstrom and quickly realize you have one of the 10 best combinations in NHL history. However, you could have gone old-school and selected Gordie Howe along with center Alex Delvecchio, and you would not be wrong.
While its tough to put Mr. Hockey in the runner-up position, the feeling is that the Yzerman-Lidstrom duo had too much speed, talent and hand-eye coordination to pass up. Howe may have been the strongest forward of his era, but it just seems as if he would been a "solid contributor" in the modern game and not necessarily a dominant superstar.
No disrespect intended, but Howe was not a dazzling skater or playmaker. Both Yzerman and Lidstrom were.
For the record, Howe's longevity keyed his position as the team's all-time leading scorer and Delvecchio is Detroit's third-leading scorer. Yzerman and Lidstrom are second and fourth, respectively
No. 7 Boston Bruins: Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito
When it came to playing all-out offensive and dominating hockey, few duos can approach the majesty of Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito.
Orr is probably the best player in the history of the game; those that disagree often rank him second to Wayne Gretzky.
Orr was a brilliant skater with the on-ice instincts of DaVinci in front of the canvas. After he joined the Bruins, the rest of the hockey world soon found out what a prodigy he was. However, when the Bruins acquired Phil Esposito from the Chicago Blackhawks, along with Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield, the Bruins became a scoring machine and a dominant team.
Orr used his speed and slashing style to go from defense to offense in an instant. Esposito used his lumbering skating and brute strength to anchor himself in front of the net.
If Orr passed to Esposito in the slot, the Bruins almost certainly scored. If Espo passed to Orr at the point, it was another near-certain goal.
The swaggering Bruins won two Stanley Cups with Orr and Esposito; hockey experts believe they should have had a dynasty. Esposito scored 1,012 points for the Bruins in 625 games, while the meteoric Orr had 888 points in 631 games from his spot on the blue line.
Their likes have rarely been seen anywhere in hockey.
No. 6 Chicago Blackhawks: Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita
Though it has been decades since they wore the famous Indian head jersey of the Chicago Blackhawks, Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita still stand atop the franchise's list of achievements.
They remain the top two scorers in franchise history. Hull was one of the most explosive players the game has ever known. He had brilliant end-to-end speed, and his slap shot was a powerful force that left goaltenders quaking in their skates.
Mikita was Mr. Everything for the Hawks. He was a playmaker, a faceoff expert, an agitator early in his career and a Lady Byng winner later on. When Mikita and Hull played together, the Hawks could rally from a deficit and take over a game.
Mikitia had 1,467 points for the Blackhawks, while Hull scored 1,153.
No. 5 Los Angeles Kings: Marcel Dionne and Dave Taylor
While the Kings were basically an afterthought in Los Angeles until they acquired Wayne Gretzky and didn't reach the big-time until this year's championship, they had an explosive and exciting team with Marcel Dionne at center and wingers Charlie Simmer and Dave Taylor.
We give the edge to Taylor in this piece because he was the more polished all-around player, and he had more of an impact on the Kings.
The quick and explosive Dionne remains the Kings' all-time leading scorer with 1,307 points.
No. 4 Montreal Canadiens: Jean Beliveau and Maurice "Rocket" Richard
Much like the Detroit Red Wings, there are two significant choices to consider.
It would be hard to go wrong with the great Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur and center Jacques Lemaire, but if you chose those two, you would be ignoring Maurice "Rocket" Richard and Jean Beliveau.
The Canadiens are to hockey what the New York Yankees are to baseball. Two of the greatest players in Yankees history are Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio. Richard has been referred to as the Babe Ruth of hockey because of his ability to score a boatload of huge goals at key moments and because the intensity of his personality made him magnetic for his loyal fans.
DiMaggio was often portrayed as the classiest of the Yankee greats. While he carried himself in a dignified manner, recent biographies portrayed DiMaggio as quite cold. That has never been said about Beliveau, who is probably the classiest player ever to don a Habs jersey, and he was a wonderful player on the ice.
Richard and Beliveau were teammates between 1950 and 1960 and the two created magic regularly.
No. 3 New York Islanders: Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy
Mike Bossy (left) and Bryan Trottier keyed the Islanders' surge in the 1980s.
It's just a distant memory now, but the New York Islanders had a dynasty in the early 1980s.
After the Montreal Canadiens slowed down and before the Edmonton Oilers got up to speed, general manager Bill Torrey built a superb hockey team on Long Island.
The New York Islanders have never owned New York like the Rangers do, but they had one of the finest hockey teams the NHL has ever seen.
The team was known for its grit, hustle and the feisty goaltending of Billy Smith. However, the duo of Bryan Trottier at center and Mike Bossy on right wing was a brilliant 1-2 punch. Trottier was the great all-around center who won faceoffs, was difficult to knock off the puck, passed with precision and could score goals.
Bossy was a scoring machine. He had magical hands and had a laser-like wrist and snap shot and a devastating slap shot.
Trottier and Bossy remain the two leading scorers in Islanders history. Bossy scored 573 goals for the Islanders and would have had even more if he was not slowed by a back injury.
No. 2 Pittsburgh Penguins: Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr
The argument that can be made for Original Six teams like the Detroit Red Wings and the Montreal Canadiens can also be made for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
You can easily look at Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr and say that it's all over because they are the two leading scorers in Penguins' team history. But if you do that, you are forgetting about Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
In another 10 years—perhaps less—Crosby and Malkin may find their names atop the scoring list.
But for now, we will go with Lemieux and Jagr. Lemieux may have been even more physically gifted than Wayne Gretzky. He was certainly bigger and stronger. He had remarkable skating ability, hands and instincts. When Jagr was in his heyday with the Penguins, he always took the puck to the net and was seemingly unstoppable.
A pair of magnificent players who helped take the Penguins to the top.
No. 1 Edmonton Oilers: Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier
This is the gold standard in the NHL as far as putting the puck in the net is concerned.
When Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier were at their best for the Edmonton Oilers in the 1980s, nobody could touch them. While you may be inclined to make the argument of Bobby Orr over Gretzky as the best player in hockey history, Gretzky rates the edge over the Bruins defenseman in overall offensive talent. As far as Messier is concerned, there is no better "No. 2" player on this list.
Other than that, Gretzky was simply the best offensive force the game has ever known, Messier was nearly a perfect hockey player. While his signature moment—"The Guarantee"—occured when he was wearing a New York Rangers uniform, he was dangerous and played with an edge while he was skating for the Oilers.
Gretzky set every significant offensive record in the game, and Messier was probably the NHL's best leader ever.
That's a 1-2 punch to savor.