NHL's most potent forward lines

Hurricanes' Semin, Staal and Tlusty among league's highest-scoring trios

Updated: March 20, 2013, 2:36 PM ET
By Neil Greenberg | ESPN Insider
Alexander Semin/Eric Staal/Jiri TlustyNHLI/Getty ImagesAlexander Semin, Eric Staal and Jiri Tlusty have formed a very productive line in Carolina.

When the Carolina Hurricanes signed Alexander Semin to a one-year, $7 million deal, it was considered by many a risky move, but one that general manager Jim Rutherford felt they could -- and should -- make.

"Alexander's elite skill level and ability to score from the wing fill an important need on the ice," Rutherford explained at the time of the signing. "And we hope that a fresh start in Carolina will serve both Alexander and our team well."

So far the gamble has paid off. The Russian sniper has returned to being a point-per-game player for Carolina (30 points in 29 games). However, this time around, Semin has way more assists (a team-best 22) than goals (eight).

"Semin's really been the playmaker of the line, which has been a bit of a surprise," said Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller. "Guys like that tend to adapt to the players they're playing with. Eric (Staal) is a straight-forward, drive-to-the-net guy, and Alex is a smart player. (Jiri) Tlusty is a mix of a playmaker and a scorer, so Alex plays off of Eric and becomes more of a playmaker instead of thinking shot first."

That chemistry has made the trio the second-best scoring line in the league with 22 even-strength goals. Either Semin, Staal or Tlusty have scored in all but two of the team's 15 wins, and the Canes are 13-5-2 when one of those players lights the lamp.

To see the rest of Neil Greenberg's examination of the most potent forward lines in the league, plus Insider's complete NHL coverage, sign up for ESPN Insider.

Neil Greenberg is ESPN Insider's NHL analytics expert. His columns have appeared on the Washington Post website, and he is a regular guest on Sirius XM NHL Radio.