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Best offensive duos of all-time

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The retirement of Edwin Preencarnacion @Tagger this off-season, my long-term linemate in Riga, means I can finally complete an article that's been on my mind basically ever since the Cast-Preencarnacion 'EdwinCast' duo burst onto the scene in S61 and especially S62. Once the two of us realised the on-ice chemistry we had, we made it a sort of half-spoken goal to become one of the best linemate partnerships in VHL history. Dreams of eight seasons playing on the same line didn't quite come to fruition after Edwin went inactive, while Cast was moved to Moscow once the Reign's offense dried up in S66. However, I think we still made a good fist of it.

 

Below is primarily a countdown of total combined points accumulated by two players on the same line, therefore the focus really is on longevity rather than 2-3 seasons sparks of unbelievable chemistry. However, I have thrown in a few of the best short-term duos to round off the top 10, as well as including some honourable mentions below. Finally, at the bottom of the article is the comprehensive list of best duos based on average combined points across their time as linemates.

 

Honourable mentions:

Leeroy Jenkins, Pavel Koradek & Matthew Boragina (S24 Davos, S25-S27 Helsinki) – 301 points per season on average @Squinty @Koradek @Boragina

 

One of my personal favourite VHL trios of all time, probably at least partially as a result of them existing relatively early in my VHL life. Jenkins and Koradek started off as second-liners on the S24 champions in Davos, before rookie Helsinki GM Boragina brought Koradek to the Titans and the two clicked instantly, breaking the 100-point mark each, with Koradek becoming one of the few MVPs in league history to play for a non-playoff team. The puzzle was complete in S26 when Davos rebuilt and traded Jenkins to Helsinki as well – as a top line, the three put up 411 and then 395 points as their drove one of the more underrated Titans squads to the cup in S27.

 

It would be hard to split this trio into any two pairings, Jenkins-Koradek or Koradek-Boragina, which is why they don't crack the list. But if I ever do a similar article on most productive lines in VHL history, rest assured this powerhouse will be right near the top.

 

Teams rather than single duos

There were a few duos I came across in my research where in fact, it wasn't just one line doing the work, it was both the first and second lines on the same team.

 

S17-S19 Calgary – Mikka Virkkunen & Lars Berger (averaged 224 points over 3 seasons), Jardy Bunclewirth & J.D. Stormwall (239 average over 2 seasons) @Matt @Victor @JardyB10 @Zero

 

The first was the offensive juggernaught which was S17-S19 Calgary. With four of their six forwards being future Hall of Famers (and S17 rookie of the year Matthew Gunnarsson thrown in for good measure), it's no real surprise in hindsight that the Wranglers romped to back-to-back championships. This was in spite of barely having a defence or active goalie in S18 – when they sorted that out, Calgary only lost 1 game in the S19 playoffs. Berger, Virkkunen, and Gunnarsson took on their opponents' top defencemen and when teams tired of defending against that line, the 1-2 punch of Bunclewirth and Stormwall hit them on the line change.

 

S41-S42 New York – Conner Low & Tom Slaughter (237 average points), Jody 3 Moons & Xin Xie Xiao (218 average points) @Smarch @sterling @gorlab @tfong

 

In a similar way to the old Calgary team, the finest New York team of all-time was also able to run two unstoppable lines and terrorise opposition. It only led to one cup in S41, but keep in mind this was the continuation of the S38-S40 run, which had already brought a cup and two finals appearances. Conner Low's move from defence up front to accommodate Matt Bentley and replace Odin Tordahl coincided with Slaughter and XXX hitting their prime, while rookie 3 Moons was more than happy to do the damage on the Americans' second line.

 

Threepeat Toronto – Max Molholt, Zach Parechkin, LeAndre St. Pierre (S46-S52) @Molholt @DollarAndADream @atw2592

I was actually quite surprised how little time the Hall of Famers Molholt and Parechkin spent on the same line, barely playing much for two of the cup-winning seasons, S48 and S49, or in S52. That balance is probably why the Legion were so successful though and I would be remiss to not mention this duo, as when they did play together for four seasons, they put up an impressive combined 784 points. But Molholt's most prolific partnership actually came with the more unheralded LeAndre St. Pierre, another threepeat regular, who put up 200 points to Molholt's 253 over two seasons as linemates in S48 and S49.

 

The ones who benefited from inflated seasons:

There were a couple exciting partnerships which I couldn't include because their brief time together also included two of the most obscenely high-scoring seasons in VHL history: S20 and S62.

 

Tarik Saeijs & Mikka Virkkunen (S20-S21 Riga) – 262 points per season on average @frescoelmo @Matt

Jasper Canmore & Keaton Louth (S61-S63 Calgary) – 241 points per season on average @Bushito @Beaviss

 

Saeijs and Virkkunen was a classic duo, a future Hall of Famer on his entry-level contract, and a retired legend with his spot in the Hall secured. Unlike Calgary two seasons earlier, it wasn't enough to get a cup, but enough to secure Saeijs a 157-point season. Meanwhile, while the agents behind the Canmore and Louth have fallen out spectacularly in the time since, and both players are still on the outside looking into the Hall of Fame, for three seasons they were the partnership to beat in the league. Each put up 100+ points in each of S61, S62, and S63, hitting 138 (Louth) and 142 (Canmore) in S62, when they also won the championship on the second of three straight trips to the finals.

 

Fredinamijs Krigars & John Locke (S57-S58 Riga) – 263 points per season on average @hedgehog337 @Will

Finally, this one might come as a shock as this duo came third in average combined points, but were penalised for playing on the second line. Without doubt, the Krigars-Locke combination was essential to Riga winning back-to-back cups in S57 and S58 and securing their Hall of Fame stats, but it's hard to rank against all the other lines based on weakness of opposition.

 

Alright, now onto the countdown:

 

:nya: 10. Unassisted & Diana Maxwell (S52-S54 New York) – 249 points per season on average :nya:

There was a lot of free agency movement in the S51 off-season, including the Hamilton brothers and Greg Clegane signing in Toronto, but probably the most influential was Unassisted @STZ moving to New York. Already a prolific scorer with Quebec and Calgary, joining the Americans allowed the one-name center to get his hands on the Continental Cup twice, thanks to a prolific partnership with fellow future Hall of Famer Diana Maxwell @street. Together, the duo put up a combined 747 points in 3 seasons, before breaking up in S55 as Maxwell moved onto a line with Essian Ravenwing. With Tom Lincoln also featuring on the team, New York chose to outscore their opponents, and did that to good effect.

 

:oldvas: 9. Scotty Campbell & anyone (specifically Alex McNeil and Matt Defosse) (S2-S5) :oldsea:

You can't go through a VHL ranking without mentioning Scotty Campbell, at least not when goals and points are being considered. His first consistent linemate was good personal friend Matt Defosse, with whom Campbell linked in Vasteras for 2 seasons before both were famously traded to Seattle before S4. Over 3 seasons, the duo put up 822 points, for a borderline insane 274 average points per season. That is, until Campbell found even greater chemistry with their new linemate on the Bears – Alex McNeil. In S4, Campbell put up 174 points to McNeil's 126; in S5, once Defosse left for Helsinki, Campbell got 190 and McNeil 162 – those are stats still among the untouchable VHL records. Prime Scotty was an unstoppable machine and his almost as prolific linemates ensured the championships kept rolling in.

 

:vas: 8. Tukka Reikkinen & Lasse Milo (S25-S28 Vasteras) – 840 points :vas:

Keeping to the Vasteras theme, the cursed franchise's second and final Continental Cup came in part thanks to having a few points of attack, enabled by the younger second line featuring Tukka Reikkinen @.sniffuM and Iron Eagles lifer Lasse Milo @PensFan101. But it was actually after the win in S26 that the duo broke out, as with the team stripped of all other assets they put up Campbell-esque stats in S27 (152 points for Reikkinen and 147 for Milo). That was ultimately the highlight of their time as an offensive partnership; Reikkinen's best days were still ahead of him with New York, while Milo never quite hit the same heights again. However, for their obvious chemistry and being the defining players of the last good Vasteras team, they deserve a place on this list.

 

:cal: 7. Alexander Chershenko & Volodymyr Rybak (S28, S30-S31, S34 Calgary) – 899 points :cal:

On paper, this should have worked out even better than it did. Two Ukrainians who would end up with some of the best career stats in VHL history, playing on a perennial contender in Calgary, as well as one consistently producing some of the league's most entertaining hockey. In fact, Chershenko and Rybak didn't quite click as much as they could have but still had their moments – a Continental Cup in S30, joint-140+ point seasons in S31, and one last swansong on Chershenko's return to the Wranglers in S34. Purely on talent even if not on actual line chemistry, these two managed to put up some elite numbers together.

 

:que: 6. Lukas Muller & Pierre Gaudette (S53-S57 Quebec) – 937 points :que:

Perhaps not a duo that immediately comes to mind, but the last great Quebec team before its move to Vancouver lent itself to prolific scoring. The Meute focused on star power rather than depth as they got to 4 straight finals in the 50s and their cup-winning team in S56 featured just 8 players, but 5 of them future Hall of Famers. One of the other 3 was Pierre Gaudette @Frank, who formed a highly effective duo with Lukas Muller @solas, one of the finest playmakers the VHL has seen. Together they combined for 5 individual 100+ point seasons, while also accommodating various other superstats on the same line – John Locke in S54 and S55, Pietro Maximoff in S56, and Diana Maxwell in S57.

 

:sea: 5. Felix Peters & Jarvis Baldwin (S26-S30 Seattle) – 1,009 points :sea:

Into the top 5 and into the duos which put up over 1,000 points in their time together. Naturally, two members of the Seattle Six make the cut – six stars (3 forwards, 2 defencemen and 1 goaltender) who spent all five seasons of that contending period together. Felix Peters @gregreg and Jarvis Baldwin @CoachReilly are perhaps its most famous members and both benefited from the chemistry they found on the ice. Five 100+ point seasons between them rarely falling below the 90-point mark, Baldwin and Peters also formed a legendary line with Nikolai Lebedev, although not during his best year, the cup-winning S28.

 

:que: 4. Bruno Wolf & Aksel Thomassen (S40-S44 Quebec) – 1,086 points :que:

Perhaps the perfect example of a prolific duo – a hard-hitting goalscorer and a silky smooth playmaker, aided by a GM who was willing to sacrifice team balance for individual results. Despite this, Quebec probably deserved more in the playoffs in that S42-S44 window, but that team is best remembered for the Wolf-Thomassen duo (@Kesler and @Frank). They broke out in S41, putting up 537 points between them in the next two seasons, Thomassen providing the assists on a plate for the clinical Wolf. They slowed down a bit for the last two seasons as the team grew deeper, but still each hit the 100-point mark with ease, consolidating their Hall of Fame careers.

 

:hel: 3. Franchise Cornerstone & Rudolph Schmeckeldorf (S55-S60 Helsinki) – 1,221 points :hel:

Generally, this list is filled with Hall of Famers as having a prolific partnership generally helps both players' career stats. However, in this case, Helsinki's Schmeckeldorf @Corco was just happy to ride the coattails of his (literal) Franchise Cornerstone @boubabi. He hit 100 points twice, with 113 in S57 and 109 in S59, but most of the legwork was done by his more talented linemate. Cornerstone also formed a similarly strong duo with Theo Axelsson, first on the second line in S53 and S54 and then to devastating effect as the top line in S56 and S57. However, they couldn't match the longevity of the most loyal Titans of that generation.

 

:rig: 2. Podrick Cast & Edwin Preencarnacion (S61-S66 Riga) – 1,261 points :rig:

Well, here's the most recent addition to the list, climbing to 2nd place on perseverance alone. Without doubt, their totals were helped by Cast's modern day record 174-point haul in S62, with Preencarnacion not far behind with 141, but the duo remained unrivaled in 60s VHL for their consistency. Preencarnacion continued to put up 90+ point seasons every year until Cast's departure after S66, no mean feat in the modern low scoring VHL. The fact that Riga couldn't win another playoff series after the S63 cup win will be used against 'EdwinCast', but it will take something to match their regular season prowess going forward.

 

:hcd: 1. Phil Rafter & David Smalling (S27-S33 Davos, S34 New York) – 1,650 points :hcd:

Finally, the expected top ranked pairing. Brothers David @Knight and Phil Knight @Phil finally got their players onto the same team simultaneously and proceeded to spend the rest of their careers together, other than Rafter's brief stint in Helsinki after the S32 trade deadline (he came back to Davos for S33). The British duo were effective the originally Thomassen (all-out attack guy, i.e. Rafter) and Wolf (two-way dynamo, no pun intended, in Smalling), but for much longer and to a higher level. Like with the 'EdwinCast' tandem in second place, Rafter and Smalling surprisingly only brought home one Continental Cup despite considerable regular season success, but that will not stop them from remaining the forward duo to beat.

 

And here's a full ranking by average combined points per season:

Spoiler

 

Scotty Campbell & Alex McNeil (S4-S5 Seattle) – 326

Scotty Campbell & Matt Defosse (S2-S3 Vasteras, S4 Seattle) – 274

Fredinamijs Krigars & John Locke (S57-S58 Riga) – 263

Tarik Saeijs & Mikka Virkkunen (S20-S21 Riga) – 262

Unassisted & Diana Maxwell (S52-S54 New York) – 249

Jasper Canmore & Keaton Louth (S61-S63 Calgary) – 241

Max Molholt & LeAndre St. Pierre (S48-S49 Toronto) – 227

Mike Szatkowski & Brannan Anthony (S3-S4, S7 Vasteras) – 226

Alexander Chershenko & Volodymyr Rybak (S28, S30-S31, S34 Calgary) – 225

Thomas O'Malley & Christoph Klose (S43-S44 Cologne, S46 Helsinki) – 224

Edwin Reencarnacion & Freedom McJustice (S48-S49 New York) – 224

Ethan Osborne & Anatoli Zhumbayev (S34-S36 Helsinki) – 221

Niklas Lindberg & Anatoli Zhumbayev (S37-S38 Toronto) – 217

Odin Tordahl & Xin Xie Xiao (S37-S38, S40 New York) – 215

Lars Berger & Peyton Nydroj (S21-S23 Toronto) – 212

Tukka Reikkinen & Lasse Milo (S25-S28 Vasteras) – 210

Podrick Cast & Edwin Preencarnacion (S61-S66 Riga) – 210

 

 

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16 minutes ago, Beketov said:

I definitely wonder what could have been had I stayed in Vasteras with Beketov. If I recall him and Szatkowski were quite the pair.

There was a +Beketov line on that Szatkowski-Anthony stat in the initial draft, but yeah, ultimately didn't spend enough time with him.

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The pairing that I was hoping we'd be similar to in production was the Wolf-Thomassen combo (since that was my peak activity era) so I'm very happy that we managed to top that together!

 

Feels like our partnership was kinda like the Sturridge(Me)-Suarez(You) partnership for Liverpool back in the day. Both put up big numbers together but even in that period, you were still very much the better performer and you continued after leaving whereas I became injury prone/inactive and barely seen for the remainder of his career.

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I got to watch Wolf and Thomassen kill it while I was playing on the 2nd line for the Meute, with Travis Boychuk. Those were some fun times.

 

Then right after that I made Parechkin, and got to be part of a dynamic duo myself with @Molholt. Molholt and Parechkin accomplished what Wolf and Thomassen (and Boychuk) never could, and that's win cups. Those were the days.

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For some reason when I saw myself tagged in this article I expected it was going to be something to do with Axelsson.  But those early Müller/Gaudette seasons were extremely fun and came out of nowhere.  The pure playmaker build ended up working out really well for me and I kinda wish I'd been a bit more active after Axelsson retired (but I'll take Müller being in the hall of fame anyways ;))

I was expecting Chershenko/Rybak to be a bit higher too tbh

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Makes me wonder what me and @Beaviss could accomplish. Even with Glade as a dman, the Louth/Glade duo averaged like 200 points a season. If we do that for 6 seasons and average like 150 our last two, that's easily a 1500 point duo

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2 minutes ago, ShawnGlade said:

Makes me wonder what me and @Beaviss could accomplish. Even with Glade as a dman, the Louth/Glade duo averaged like 200 points a season. If we do that for 6 seasons and average like 150 our last two, that's easily a 1500 point duo

Im hoping HHH can find a partner like that

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