2023-24 Fantasy Hockey: 5 best NHL line stacks to draft

Stacking forwards is an easy way to build positive correlation into your fantasy hockey lineup. Here are five of the best stacks to consider.

Stacking is an interesting fantasy strategy that has gained some popularity in recent years. Stacking is the practice of taking two players from the same team whose outcomes should be correlated. For example, if Jack Hughes scores at a 100-point pace again in 2023-24, it’s a pretty good bet that Jesper Bratt had a very good season as well.

That’s just one example, but there are plenty of other places to look for high-potential stacks this year, too.

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It’s worth noting that you don’t need to grab all three members of a line to create a stack; in fact doing so can sometimes make it hard to adjust your lineup on heavy nights when almost all teams are playing. Instead, you can focus on finding a pair or two throughout the draft who should provide those big boom games that can win you a matchup.

Let’s take a look at some top lines across the league that are worth targeting for stacking purposes:

The Dallas Stars' top trio is one of the NHL's best line stacks to target in fantasy hockey. (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)
The Dallas Stars' top trio is one of the NHL's best line stacks to target in fantasy hockey. (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

Dallas Stars: Robertson-Hintz-Pavelski

I wrote about this trio last season and they provided in a big way, with Jason Robertson taking a substantial leap into true stardom.

One of the more interesting nuggets I unearthed this offseason is that Roope Hintz is probably one of the five most effective power-play specialists in the NHL. He ranked first in the entire league in team shots on goal per 60 while he was on the ice, outperforming Robertson in that category by nearly 10%. I’ve projected Hintz for an 88-point pace while averaging 18 minutes a night, making him feel pretty safe at that level with room for even more if he manages to garner a few more even-strength minutes.

Joe Pavelski remains an ageless wonder whom I will not make the mistake of underrating until I see a reason other than his birthdate to do so. He’s also the easiest member of this trio to stack up, with an early Yahoo ADP in the eighth round while Robertson is a mid-first-round selection and Hintz is residing in the early third.

If you’re selecting Pavelski at any point, you’re already making a bet that he doesn’t fall off this year. If that’s true, it will be because he maintains his L1/PP1 role while Robertson and Hintz continue to crush it. That makes this stack really easy to buy into and one I’m definitely going to have an eye out for in my drafts.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Kucherov-Point-Hagel

Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov have been stapled together at even strength for what feels like a decade already, forming two-thirds of one of the most dangerous lines in the league throughout that time. Point reached new heights this past season with a 51-goal campaign, while Kucherov continued his customary excellence with 113 points.

Kucherov is currently going in the mid-to-late first round, while Point is available in the mid-third, making it possible to stack the two if Point happens to slide a little in your draft relative to his ADP.

Brandon Hagel may not be locked in as the left winger on the Kucherov/Point line, but he was by far the most common linemate for Tampa's dynamic duo last season and has to be the current betting favorite. He’s wildly inexpensive at the moment, going in the 13th round in Yahoo drafts. That makes him easy to stack and easy to click "draft" on, especially given the additional power-play usage looming since Alex Killorn took a big deal in free agency to go to the Anaheim Ducks.

Hagel is more of a complementary piece than a play-driver, but with the draft cost to acquire him so low it’s very easy to add him to any team you’ve already drafted Point or Kucherov on.

Detroit Red Wings: DeBrincat-Larkin-Raymond

This line is a bit of projection since we obviously haven’t yet seen where Alex DeBrincat will line up in the Detroit forward corps, but he’s clearly the best winger on the Red Wings and intuitively provides a strong complement as the designated sniper on the top line. Combine his goal-scoring prowess with Dylan Larkin’s speed and Lucas Raymond’s playmaking and you can easily envision a season where it all comes together in a big way for this trio.

Grabbing DeBrincat in the fifth round and Larkin in the sixth looks like a realistic possibility at current Yahoo ADPs, while Raymond is going undrafted in most places. This could be a stack you form via the waiver wire in-season where, if DeBrincat is an instant fit and the top line is rolling from the get-go, you could add Raymond after a few games and have a season-long contributor.

With the Red Wings looking to take the next step into playoff contention, the pressure will be on for this trio to start strong.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Gaudreau-Laine-Jenner

Columbus never got on track offensively last year with significant injuries up and down the lineup. That didn’t stop Johnny Gaudreau from posting a strong 74-point season, outscoring the next best Blue Jacket by 22 points.

That next best player was indeed Patrik Laine, who put together 52 points in just 55 games, perhaps portending that we could expect a return to form from the Finnish sniper if he’s able to stay healthy this year. A healthy Zach Werenski and a much-improved defense corps should raise the overall ceiling of the team, and I’d expect the top line to benefit the most from that situation.

Gaudreau’s ADP falls in the late sixth round, but Laine is going at the end of the 14th in early Yahoo drafts, which is absolutely worth abusing right now — I have Gaudreau and Laine projected for nearly identical stat lines.

Boone Jenner goes a round later and while it does feel like there’s an expiration date on his top-line status, I’m not convinced Adam Fantilli or Kent Johnson is likely to supplant him anytime soon. Even if they do, Jenner is well worth the 15th-round pick for the early stack and you can let him go if he gets bumped down the lineup.

Minnesota Wild: Kaprizov-Zuccarello-Hartman

Kirill Kaprizov is being blatantly disrespected in early drafts, getting pushed to the second round despite seeing a bump to over 21 minutes per game last year. The Wild have struggled to surround Kaprizov with top-tier talent, but Mats Zuccarello is a steady piece and the emergence of sophomore Matt Boldy down the stretch last year bodes well for the Wild power play in 2023-24. I’m also more bullish than most on Ryan Hartman, a capable if unexciting player who already showed chemistry with Kaprizov in the 2021-22 season.

Zuccarello can be added to a second-round Kaprizov selection in the eighth round, and Hartman is going undrafted in a lot of places. If you’re like me and betting on a big season from Kaprizov, both of these two make a lot of sense as secondary options who won’t cost you a lot.

Also, consider Boldy in the fifth as a pseudo-stack. He’ll be on the top power play with Kaprizov and is easily the Wild’s second-best offensive threat, which means he and Kaprizov will likely see a lot of time on the ice together whenever the Wild find themselves trailing in the third period.

Of course, these are just some of the many options across the league, and you can find a plethora of stacks throughout your draft if you so choose.

Be sure not to overdo things and hurt your roster flexibility by drafting too many players from one team, but grabbing a stack or two throughout your draft is a fun and easy way to build positive correlation into your lineup.

Nate Groot Nibbelink is the creator of Apples & Ginos Fantasy Hockey and the originator of the #ZeroG draft strategy. You can find him pontificating about obscure fantasy hockey strategy topics in the Apples & Ginos Discord Server or on Twitter/X @applesginos.