ESPN NHL’s main page article for much of the past week has been The best line of the past 30 years for all 31 NHL teams. Below is the text from the article pertaining to the Florida Panthers.
Best line: LW Ray Whitney, C Viktor Kozlov, RW Pavel Bure
From 1998-99 to 2001-02, the Panthers’ best line was “wherever Pavel Bure played.” But this trio from the 1999-2000 season really stands out. This line featured the top three scorers on the team, with each finishing more than 20 points better than any other Panther. This was Bure’s best season in Florida; he finished with 94 points (including 58 goals) in 74 games to become a Hart finalist. Whitney scored whatever Bure didn’t, with 29 goals, and Kozlov had a career year, with 53 assists. Coach Terry Murray was known to refer to it as “the Russian Line,” which was funny because Canadian-born Whitney was known as ”Ray Whitney-ov” when he skated with Igor Larionov and Sergei Makarov in San Jose.
Cult classic: LW Dave Lowry, C Stu Barnes, RW Ray Sheppard
The 1996 Panthers’ run to the Stanley Cup Final featured many role players stepping up to play even bigger roles. This line ended up being their three leading scorers in the playoffs, including Lowry leading Florida in goals (10) and points (17) during the Year of the Rat.
Best current line: LW Jonathan Huberdeau, C Aleksander Barkov, RW Evgenii Dadonov
They generated 3.74 goals per 60 minutes together this season in nearly 600 minutes together. This trio has been instant offense for the past three seasons, buoyed by Barkov’s impressive growth as a premier two-way center.
I’ve included two more choices for today’s LBC poll and there will also be an “other” option. If you choose “other” let us know who in the comment section.
Sunrise Express: LW David Booth, C Stephen Weiss, RW Nathan Horton
After a very solid season together as the second line behind captain Olli Jokinen’s unit in 2007-08 (earning the three a nickname and T-shirt), 2008-09 saw this trio take top billing after Jokinen was traded to the Phoenix Coyotes in June. Weiss produced career-highs with 47 assists and 61 points. Booth did the same in goals (31) and points (60) while Horton, who missed 15 games, chipped in 22 goals and 23 assists. The line took a hit, literally, the following season when Booth had his brain scrambled by a vicious hit from Philadelphia’s Mike Richards on October 24, limiting him to 28 games played. Weiss would put up 60 points and Horton 57 that year, but underachieving Nathan would be traded to Boston on June 22, 2010 and then Booth got shipped off to Toronto just over a year later.
We See Red: LW Tomas Fleischmann, C Stephen Weiss, RW Kris Versteeg
This line combined for 70 goals and 172 points in the 2011-12 season with the trio finishing one, two, three on the club in scoring. Fleischmann led the way with a team-leading 27 goals and 61 points. After the leading the Cats in scoring with 49 points the season prior Weiss jumped up to 57 and hit the 20-goal mark for the fourth and final time in his career. Former Blackhawk Versteeg’s 23 goals, 31 assists and 54 points were all career-highs. The line helped the surprising Panthers make the playoffs for the first time in 12 years. Unfortunately, they dropped a tough seven-game series to the New Jersey Devils The dynamic trio combined for 13 points in the stinging defeat.
What was the best line in Florida Panthers history
This poll is closed
Whitney, Kozlov, Bure
Lowry, Barnes, Sheppard
Huberdeau, Barkov, Dadonov
Booth, Weiss, Horton
Fleischmann, Weiss, Versteeg