Whose Line Is It Anyway?
So which unit is the Leafs number one line?
For the benefit of comparison, we took our best guess at each NHL team’s number one unit and used last year’s numbers to illuminate who did what well. While traded players such as Tim Connolly were included, there are some footnotes.
Sidney Crosby’s line with James Neal and Chris Kunitz just missed cracking the top 10 units even though Crosby missed half the season with a concussion. Colorado is expected to use rookie Gabriel Landeskog on their number one line. Because it’s impossible to estimate his NHL production, we omitted the Avalanche. Jaromir Jagr might well garner time on the Flyers number one line so we used the numbers from his last NHL season and blended them with those of Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk. Injuries obviously skewered these numbers. Connolly and Joffrey Lupul missed 42 games between them.
Note how the Leafs line of Clarke MacArthur, Mikhaill Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin finished seventh in goals and 11th in plus minus in what for our purposes was a 29-team league. Projected as the go-to unit, the line of Tim Connolly between Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel ranks among the league’s lower scoring number one units in goal production and plus-minus based on last year.
Top 10 lines in goals (lw-c-rw)
|1. Anaheim||103 Goals||Ryan - 34||getzlaf - 19||perry - 50|
|2. tampa||90 goals||malone - 13||stamkos - 45||st.louis - 31|
|3. vancouver||86 goals||d.sedin - 41||h.sedin - 19||burrows - 26|
|4. calgary||82 goals||tanguay - 22||jokinen - 17||iginla - 43|
|5. columbus||82 goals||huselius - 14||carter - 36||nash - 32|
|6. dallas||82 goals||morrow - 33||benn - 22||eriksson - 82|
|7. grabovski line||81 goals||Macarthur - 21||Grabovski - 29||Kulemin - 30|
|8. St. Louis||79 goals||McDonald - 20||backes - 31||stewart - 28|
|9. San jose||78 goals||marleau - 37||thornton - 21||pavelski - 20|
|10. Boston||78 goals||Lucic - 30||bergeron - 22||horton - 26|
Bottom 10 lines in goals.
|30. Edmonton||45 goals||hall - 22||horcoff - 9||hemsky - 14|
|29. phoenix||53 goals||whitney - 17||hanzal - 16||doan - 20|
|28. ottawa||53 goals||michalek - 18||spezza - 21||alfredsson - 14|
|27. minnesota||55 goals||heatley - 26||koivu - 17||bouchard - 12|
|26. nashville||57 goals||kostitsyn - 23||legwand - 17||erat - 17|
|25. new jersey||57 goals||kovalchuk - 31||zajac - 13||zubrus 13|
|24. connolly line||59 goals||lupul - 14||connolly - 13||kessel - 32|
|23. Buffalo||64 goals||vanek - 32||roy - 10||pominville - 22|
|22. NY Islanders||65 goals||moulson - 31||tavares - 29||Okposo - 5|
|21. winnipeg||65 goals||ladd - 29||little - 18||wheeler - 18|
This chart lists the top and bottom 10 plus-minus number one lines in the league.
Of the ten teams with the best plus-minus number one lines, only the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise and the St. Louis Blues did not make the playoffs. The revamped Jets were the only team in that top 10 with a losing record. Vancouver and Boston, the teams with the top two plus minus lines, met in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Number one lines with best plus-minus
1. 1. Vancouver +80
2. Boston +77
3. Washington +70
4. Philadelphia +50
5. St. Louis +44
6. Pittsburgh +42
7. Nashville +37
8. Los Angeles +30
9. Anaheim +29
10. Chicago +25
11. Grabovski line +18
Number one lines with worst plus-minus
1. Florida -47
2. New Jersey -43
3. Connolly line -41
4. Ottawa -38
5. NYI -23
6. Calgary -17
7. NYR -9
8. Dallas -9
9. Edmonton -7
10. Carolina -6