Dynamic Duos - looking at duos who click in the Western Conference
The lockout is finally over, which means poolies are going to be drafting their squads in the very near future. Unless of course you were defiant like the DobberHockey crew and drafted your team in late September or early October. The lockout didn't slow us down one bit, but I had to do a double take today when looking at my roster. How Scott Clemmensen ended up on my team I'll never know.
As the season quickly approaches, every fantasy team owner will be looking for an edge over their competition. One opportunity may be to draft or acquire a pair of line-mates that have developed chemistry in recent years. Having players that feed off of each other can really give your team a boost, and many times points become like a two for one sale.
The Sedin twins are obviously the best example of this. The two Swedes have combined for 346 points in the last two seasons alone, with just about a 50/50 split in production. Henrik has posted 175 points to Daniel's 171, and they seem to have a sixth sense about finding each other on the ice. Being twins, not only is it hard to tell them apart in photos and interviews, but without jersey numbers it would also be extremely challenging to decipher which one is which on the ice. That's what happens when you have been playing together all of your life with the same coaching.
Understanding which players work well together is one thing, but getting them both on your team is another. Many times in drafts when someone like Daniel Sedin is taken first, the rest of the participants immediately start thinking of Henrik. The chances of you landing both of them by the time it comes back to your pick is almost non-existent. The same thing applies for other popular line-mates. Once a player is drafted it quickly triggers everyone else to react. Sometimes swinging a trade after the fact works best to reunite two players that seem to click together.
There have been plenty of famous duos in history like Batman and Robin, Starsky and Hutch, Bettman and Daly, the list is endless. Here are a few more from the Western Conference other than the Sedins to keep an eye out for this year.
Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Edmonton Oilers
Nugent-Hopkins put up 52 points in just 62 games during his rookie season in 2011-12, and Eberle broke out in his sophomore year with 76 points. The two combined to hit the score sheet 43 times together and had it not been for an injury to Nugent-Hopkins, that number certainly would have been greater. The duo also worked well with the man advantage, as 20 of those 43 points came on the power play. Both Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle have been playing together with the Oklahoma City Barons during the lockout, so expect very little rust to be shown once the season gets underway. In a short 48 campaign, the Oilers could be a dangerous team.
The two Joes have really meshed well in recent years and in 2011-12 Pavelski netted a career high 31 goals. The combination of Pavelski's nose for the net and Thornton's tremendous setup skills make the pair tough to stop. In fact, nearly 50% of Thornton's points last year came while playing with Pavelski, and both have been very consistent during their time in San Jose. Expect the Sharks to have a strong regular season once again and be very potent offensively.
It may seem a little weird to look at a pair of defensemen on this list, but Keith and Seabrook definitely deserve to make the cut. Chicago has a ton of firepower up front in Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, and Patrick Sharp, but the Blackhawks often juggle their lines which forces many of their forwards to adapt to different players. The pair of Keith and Seabrook on the other hand played over 50% of their ice-time together in 2011-12, connecting for 17 points. Both were also a combined plus-36, so having them anchoring your blueline can really help you in that category.
The duo teamed up to post 20 points while playing nearly 36% of their even strength time together last year. Franzen has established himself as a steady 30-goal scorer when healthy, and no doubt a large reason for that is frequently being the recipient of several slick passes from Datsyuk. Nothing against Franzen, but you could have probably put a lamppost with Datsyuk and that pair still might have made this list.
You could easily sub Bobby Ryan's name in and make it a trio because perhaps no three players in the league rely on each other more for success. Take 2011-12 for example when each of them all had uncharacteristically down seasons. It was like no one could pull the others out of their downward spiral, and they were all feeding of off each other's negativity. However, there is far too much talent between them to assume they won't bounce back. Keep in mind we are just one season removed from a 50 goal year by Perry and a 57 assist campaign from Getzlaf.
The pair essentially split the start's last season and combined for 15 shutouts. Although I expect Halak to play a little more regularly in 2012-13 if healthy, if you are in a deep league and goaltenders are at a premium, owning both wouldn't be the worst move in the world. In Ken Hitchcock's system any goaltender seems to thrive and it never hurts to have some depth on your roster in case of injury.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter at @amato_mike