Hockey fans will get to witness some pretty incredible trios out on the ice during the NHL All-Star three-on-three tournament this weekend.
So it got us thinking — which NHL teams could put together the best trio of players? We’ll limit this to two forwards and one defenceman to keep things relatively sane, but it’s Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final and both teams take a pair of penalties to make it three-on-three — these are the trios we’d want on the ice.
How can you top this trio? One of the most offensively gifted talents and the current scoring leader in Kane, a Selke winner and perhaps the league’s best two-way centre in Toews, plus a two-time Norris winner that skates as well as anyone in the game in Keith. Oh, and ALL THREE OF THEM have won the Conn Smythe Trophy.
The scary thing about a team like the Capitals is even if you paired Ovi and Backstrom together, you’d still have a guy like Evgeny Kuznetsov – the Caps’ leading scorer – on your bench. Although Kuznetsov’s speed and creativity is magnified in three-on-three situations, you can’t deny the chemistry between Ovechkin and Backstrom. I recently dubbed them the most dynamic duo in the NHL and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis seemed to agree.
Talk about star power. The Penguins don’t put Crosby and Malkin on the ice together too often at even strength. It makes sense. Why load up one line when you can spread franchise centres across two? Same applies to three-on-three, but if the Pens wanted to put it all on the line they could send Crosby and Malkin out together with one of the top offensive blueliners in the league setting them up.
No trio on this list has combined for more points than these three so far this season – 151 total points though 50 games. Klingberg can navigate the blue-line as well as any defenceman out there and when these guys have control of the puck in the offensive zone, good luck taking it from them.
Gaudreau and Monahan are able to work wonders in five-on-five situations and their skill sets translate well to three-on-three. Mark Giordano could fit here too but Brodie has become one of the most dependable defencemen in the Western Conference.
Pavelski has excellent chemistry with Joe Thornton, but it’s no secret Jumbo Joe has slowed down in recent years. That’s why putting Pavelski – one of the truly underrated snipers in the league – alongside the speedier Marleau would benefit the Sharks in a three-on-three situation. Burns is first in goals and second in points among defencemen and he’d fit in quite nicely.
This trio is proven in all three zones. Kopitar is likely to win you the faceoff and Doughty can quarterback any unit with precision. They frequently play together when the Kings go to overtime.
The Flyers are tied with the Blackhawks and Flames for most overtime wins (8) so far this season. Rookie Gostisbehere has three of them, which leads all defencemen. Even though Voracek is having a rough season, being on the ice with a player like Giroux makes everything easier.
Johansen has meshed nicely with Neal since being acquired by the Preds earlier this year and all three of these guys can absolutely wire pucks home.
The Ducks are severely underachieving this season but have begun turning things around of late. There are few pairs of forwards better than Getzlaf and Perry. They’ve won together at every level. The Ducks have a number of quality young defencemen, but Vatanen has the most offensive upside so that’s why he makes the cut here.