Last week we took a look at the top 4 NHL duos of the 2000s, with Alfredsson and Spezza being the pair that led the way. This time we move ahead to a more recent decade: the 2010s. Here are the players whom I consider to be the top 4 NHL duos of the 2010s.
Top 4 NHL Duos of the 2010s
4. Ovechkin/Bäckström – Washington Capitals
I know that this is starting off on a controversial foot. Alex Ovechkin is undeniably the best goal scorer of this generation, and Nicklas Backstrom has been his set-up man for nearly his entire career. However, three of Ovi’s four highest goal-scoring seasons actually happened in the 2000s, so his average wasn’t quite as high in the decade we are looking at.
With that being said, Ovechkin and Bäckström were a force to be reckoned with in the 2010s, putting up a combined 1418 points in 1466 games (0.97 points per game). Those 1418 points included a scary 611 goals, the most of any duo in the decade. The pair also overcame their reputations as stars who couldn’t succeed in the playoffs when they led the Washington Capitals to a Stanley Cup victory in 2018. Ovechkin and Bäckström were second and third respectively in playoff scoring that year, and Ovi led the post-season in goals with 15.
3. Stamkos/Kucherov – Tampa Bay Lightning
Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov have received a lot of attention in the 2020s after winning back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2020 and 2021 (and almost threepeating in 2022), but they were equally impressive as a pair in the 2010s. The duo combined for 1238 points in 1157 games in the decade (1.07 points per game) and have the highest goals per game of any duo over that time span (0.49). If it were not for some significant injuries to Stamkos, the pair may have ended up higher on this list.
Tampa Bay did not win a Stanley Cup during the 2010s, but that was basically the only trophy that Stamkos and Kucherov didn’t take home. Stamkos won the Rocket Richard Trophy twice (2010 and 2012), and Kucherov won the Art Ross Trophy, the Hart Trophy, and the Ted Lindsay award (all in 2019). With players like these, it was only a matter of time for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
2. Kane/Toews – Chicago Blackhawks
The closest thing to a dynasty that the NHL had in the 2010s was the Chicago Blackhawks. The team won three cups in the decade, and over that time, Patrick Kane is second overall in playoff points (118) and Jonathan Toews is fifth (106). They both also won a Conn Smythe trophy (Toews in 2010 and Kane in 2013).
The pair was also lights-out in the regular season, with them putting up 1416 points in 1450 games (0.98 points per game). Kane put up more points than any other player in the decade (he also won an Art Ross Trophy, a Hart Trophy, and a Ted Lindsay Award). Toews was “only” 16th in points during the 2010s, but he was also an excellent defensive forward, winning the Selke Trophy in 2013 and being a finalist for the award three other times.
1. Crosby/Malkin – Pittsburgh Penguins
I don’t think it is any surprise that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are at the top of this list of the top 4 NHL duos of the 2010s. Crosby was second and Malkin was sixth in total points during the decade, and, even more impressively, they were first and second in points per game among players who tallied at least 500 points (1.23 for Crosby and 1.16 for Malkin). Combined, the duo scored 1452 points in 1211 games in the 2010s, which is the most total points and the highest points per game for any pair.
Crosby and Malkin also led the Pittsburgh Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017, with Crosby winning the Conn Smythe Trophy in both years. The future Hall of Famers also combined to win two Art Ross Trophies, two Hart Trophies, three Ted Lindsay Awards, and one Rocket Richard Trophy during the decade.
15 years. 3 Stanley Cups. One brotherhood.
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin aren’t just a superstar @penguins duo; they’re also the closest of friends.
This is their story.
— The Athletic NHL (@TheAthleticNHL) May 13, 2021
There were many great duos that I ended up having to leave off the list: Benn and Seguin, Giroux and Voracek, Wheeler and Scheifele, Getzlaf and Perry. Should any of these duos have been in my top 4? What do you think?