Nashville Predators: Where Does the JoFA Line Rank in the NHL?

(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) /

For the last two season, the Nashville Predators’ top line of forwards has impressed fans and the league. Just how good are they?

The Nashville Predators top forward line consists of Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, and Viktor Arvidsson.  More affectionately known as the JoFA line.  Their chemistry has been on full display for the past two years, and they’ve risen to the ranks of the best combinations in the NHL.

Exactly where do they rank, though?

Using line combinations from Daily Faceoff, which draws player ratings and rankings from Corsica Hockey, we’re able to get a better idea of just where the JoFA line lands.  Sifting through the results, the teams with the top lines are (in alphabetical order): Boston, Colorado, Dallas, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Nashville, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Vegas, Washington, and Winnipeg. There is definitely room to argue who should and shouldn’t be included, but let’s examine the JoFA line and see where they stand.

More from Editorials

The Pros

Each team mentioned above, and their respected top line, is every bit deserving of the recognition.  In regards to the Nashville Predators, the JoFA line has come a long way in a short amount of time. Three seasons ago, they spent only 49 seconds on ice together.  Last year, that number was over 600 minutes.  Coach Laviolette certainly saw something in these three players.  The fans did too, with Forsberg’s highlight reel goals, Arvy’s hustle, and Joey’s finesse.

The chemistry peaked tremendously during the 2017-18 campaign. They saw percentage increases in Shots-for, Goals-for, and High Danger Goals-for. The HDGF% alone increased by 35 percentage points. They also accounted for 19 more goals than the previous year while on the ice together.

What distinguishes the JoFA line from the other 11 lines is the balanced scoring.  The three Predators hovered between 50-60 points the past two years.  There’s a bit more variation among the other lines.  For example, Nathan MacKinnon scored 97 points last year while his linemate Gabriel Landeskog scored 62.  That 35 point difference is pretty extreme.  Production from the JoFA line seems a little more stable.

The Cons

When analyzing the best lines in the NHL, what’s noticeable right away is that the Nashville Predators are the only team of the aforementioned teams that did not have a player with more than 70 points.  It’s arguable that Filip Forsberg would have eclipsed that had he not missed some games.  Still, the lack of a go-to guy is what separates the JoFA line from other top lines.  The Predators don’t have a superstar name like Ovechkin, Crosby, or McDavid to strike fear in other teams.

It’s nice to see balanced scoring among Forsberg, Johansen, and Arvidsson, but other teams are seeing a lot more point production from their top line.  Eight of the twelve teams had a player score more than 80 points.  Four of those teams had two players with more than 80 points. The last time a Predators player had 80 points was in 05-06 when Paul Kariya scored 85.

Lack of experience also hurts the JoFA line.  While Nashville Predators fans love to watch them play, they only have two seasons together. The JoFA line is locked up until 2021-22.  Best case scenario is we’ll get to see them when they hit their prime.

Realistic Ranking

Daily Faceoff ranks the JoFA line as 11th best overall.  While I agree the Predators top forward line is among the best, I disagree with this ranking.  The JoFA line is definitely top 10. The lack of an elite, high scoring superstar factors in.  So does lack of experience.  However, chemistry and balanced scoring play a role too.  Boston, Pittsburgh, and Washington all belong up top.  I’d also put Winnipeg and Tampa Bay up there as well.

Next: We are Vernon Fiddler days away from hockey!

My realistic ranking of the JoFA line is 9th overall, falling behind LA, Vegas, and Colorado.  Other teams are more reliant on their top line than the Nashville Predators.  But by winning the Presidents’ Trophy last year, the Predators showed the importance of playing as a team.