Best Line in the History of Every NHL Team
Every team has their best line, the go-to group of guys they put on the ice with the game on the line. Right now, there are some fantastic young lines that could someday emerge as the best in the history of their respective organizations.
But the deep histories of some teams will make that a tough task to accomplish.
What follows is our list of the best lines in the history of each NHL franchise. Some teams have had incredible histories with some elite scorers, while others haven't had someone step up and emerge as dominant. But so far, these are the best lines each team has enjoyed.
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Bobby Ryan - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
The Ducks don't have a long history, but they've had some high-powered offenses. None have been as potent as the current top line of Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan and 2011 Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry. All three are legitimate 30-40 goal scorers, and any of the three could have a season like Perry had last year.
Wayne Cashman - Phil Esposito - Ken Hodge
In the early 1970s, Boston was the most dominant offensive club in the game, and this was their best line. People outside Boston often take for granted just how incredible Esposito was for the Bruins.
Rene Robert - Gilbert Perrault - Richard Martin (aka "The French Connection")
How many lines have their numbers retired together? These three gentlemen were the centerpiece of the best seasons in Sabres' history, and they will be remembered by Buffalo fans forever as the best they've had on one line.
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Joe Nieuwendyk - Hakan Loob - Lanny McDonald
Of all the men that have stepped onto the ice together in Calgary, a case could be made that no shift was more important than the one skated by Nieuwendyk, Loob and McDonald in 1989.
Loob hit a streaking Nieuwendyk with a pass that eventually found the stick of McDonald, who deposited it behind Patrick Roy to give Calgary a 2-1 lead in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The Flames won the game, and the Cup, that night.
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Cory Stillman - Eric Staal - Erik Cole
Another young franchise that might see their top line eventually include the name Skinner, the 'Canes have had a few good lines over the years. Stillman, Cole and Staal has been the best for Carolina, though.
Bobby Hull - Bill Hay - Murray Balfour (aka "The Million Dollar Line")
There have been a lot of good, and famously nicknamed, lines in Chicago history, but these guys take the cake for being the best. Hull was the dominant scoring force of his generation, reaching statistical marks no player had in the game before him.
The Party Line (Steve Larmer - Denis Savard - Al Secord) is a close runner-up.
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Joe Sakic - Alex Tanguay - Milan Hejduk
Tanguay and Hejduk had the pleasure of playing with two of the finest players of their era in Sakic and, on occasion, Peter Forsberg. Sakic is now trying to find guys to replace himself and Forsberg moving forward. This line was electric while they were together.
Columbus Blue Jackets
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Columbus hasn't exactly had a blessed history when it comes to bona fide scoring combinations. They're hoping the addition of Jeff Carter to a line with Rick Nash can spark some magic, but so far this year it's been tough on the Jackets and their fans.
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Brett Hull - Mike Modano - Jere Lehtinen
Two of the best American-born skaters to ever play in the NHL were on the same line in Dallas, and Hull's...stick...put the puck into the net in one of the most infamous victories in league history. There is some talent in Dallas now, but it's hard to put a better line together than this one.
Detroit Red Wings
Ted Lindsay - Gordie Howe - Sid Abel (aka "The Production Line")
It's hard to list the "best" of anything in hockey history without including the name Gordie Howe. This line was the best in the game while they were together, and there haven't been many that were as dominant in the history of the league.
Wayne Gretzky - Jari Kurri - Esa Tikkanen
Pretty much anyone with Gretzky would have done the trick here, but both Kurri and Tikkanen had pretty good statistical careers (thanks in large part to 99). Kurri would play with The Great One outside of Edmonton later in their careers, but the magic was never quite like it was when they were together with the Oilers.
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Any two forwards with Pavel Bure
The Panthers, like the Jackets, don't have the best history when it comes to offensive powerhouses. Bure has probably been the most electric player in the team's brief history, but there was so much player movement in the early years of the franchise that it's hard to say one line featuring him was the best. So we'll go with "Player A" and "Player B" with Bure.
Los Angeles Kings
Dave Taylor - Marcel Dionne - Charlie Simmer (aka The Triple Crown Line)
In 1980-81, these three became the first line on which each player scored 100 points in the same season. Even with some of the powerful teams with Gretzky in the 1990s, it's hard to get much better than a line this evenly skilled and dominant.
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Since Minnesota was given their hockey back by the NHL, there really hasn't been one line that was overwhelmingly dominant. If this year continues, and the Wild stay in the mix for a division title, we might have a line to put on this slide next year.
Rocket Richard - Elmer Lach - Toe Blake (aka "The Punch Line")
This was one of the first lines in NHL history that was overwhelming. Richard obviously was the dominant scorer of his time, but Lach and Blake were fantastic players in their own right. Together, they won as regularly as almost any trio in the history of the game.
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David Legwand is the all-time leader in Nashville history with only 174 goals, so it's hard to say any line in Preds history has been dominant.
Indeed, if we were picking the best group in team history, it would be Shea Weber and Ryan Suter on the blue line.
New Jersey Devils
Bobby Holik - Randy McKay - Mike Peluso (aka "The Crash Line")
The Devils had some wonderful, Cup-winning seasons, but the roster was so dynamic that it's hard to take one trio as the all-time best. Holik-McKay-Peluso was as good as it gets for the Devils, though.
New York Islanders
Clark Gillies - Bryan Trottier - Mike Bossy
These guys won four Cups together, and Bossy is one of the most underrated scorers in the history of the game. Trottier was one of the best two-way centers of his generation as well. Not many lines can say they were together for four Cup wins.
New York Rangers
Vic Hadfield - Jean Ratelle - Rod Gilbert (aka The GAG Line)
Why "GAG" for a nickname? Because these three scored a Goal-A-Game for the Rangers. There have been some really good, powerful lines in the history of the Rangers, but none were as dynamic as the GAG Line.
Dany Heatley - Daniel Alfredsson - Jason Spezza
This trio was special while they were together, and they might have been able to extend their run of success if not for unfortunate off-ice problems. Alfredsson and Spezza are still in Ottawa.
Reggie Leach - Bobby Clarke - Bill Barber
It was really hard to not say the Legion of Doom here, but they didn't enjoy the postseason success of the LCB Line. Clarke is a cult hero in Philly, and for good reason. He's one of, if not the best player in the history of the franchise.
Keith Tkachuk - Jeremy Roenick - anyone
Just thinking that Roenick was almost traded for Tkachuk before the Coyotes were in Glendale is amazing, but it took one extra season for the cost to drop from Tkachuk to Alexei Zhamnov. These two till be inducted into the Coyotes Ring of Honor later this season together.
Mario Lemieux - Jaromir Jagr - Kevin Stevens (aka "The Sky Line")
In the early 1990s, Gretzky might have been the only scorer who was more feared than Super Mario or Jagr. Putting them on the same line was a scary proposition for any opponent, as was the case in consecutive Cup Finals. Oh, and the hair on Jagr is worth using this photo every time.
San Jose Sharks
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Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Dany Heatley
Who would have thought the only player to make multiple appearances on this list would be...Dany Heatley? There's no questioning that this is the best line in the history of the Sharks, though, and it was good enough to skate together while representing Canada in the 2010 Olympics.
St. Louis Blues
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Brett Hull - Adam Oates - anyone
Hull and Oates were the best tandem in the history of the Blues, and anyone skating with them had a great chance to pick up a couple points that night. There's a reason both have a distinguished place of honor in Blues' history.
Tampa Bay Lightning
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Martin St. Louis - Brad Richards - Fredrik Modin
It's hard for this line to not include the name Lecavalier or Stamkos, but this line was the best in the history of the organization. Modin and St. Louis were both 30-goal scorers in the early parts of the 2000s, and Richards was the guy setting them up.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Busher Jackson - Charlie Conachar - Joe Primeau
These three were the heart and soul of the Leafs in the early 1930s, they and were perhaps the first truly dominant line in the league. The Leafs were a force when they moved into MLG, and it was because of these three guys.
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Daniel & Henrik Sedin - Alex Burrows
The list of individual hardware won by Daniel and Henrik is growing with each year, and they've been at their best with Burrows. There have been other dynamic scoring lines in the history of the franchise, but a case could be made that Daniel and/or Henrik is the best player in the team's history.
Alexander Semin - Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom
Though two of the three might be in their coach's doghouse currently, this line has been as good as any in the NHL over the last few years and is the highest scoring line the Caps have seen.
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If we're working with the current incarnation of the Jets, there hasn't been a "best line" yet. With guys like Andrew Ladd and Evander Kane under contract, though, a line might emerge soon that will be good enough to consider a benchmark.