It's been a long summer, but the NHL is back. A new season begins Wednesday with four games. Here are some players to target and avoid for Opening Night…
Brian Elliott, PHI at SAN ($28): Elliott had some struggles last year, but he's with a new team now and is just two years removed from having a .930 save percentage. The Flyers only allowed an average of 28.5 shots on net per game last year, while San Jose lost Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton is a year older. At this price, Elliott could be a nice value.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Jake Allen, STL at PIT ($36): Allen is the most expensive goalie Wednesday, which is likely due to his great play in the playoffs last year. During the regular season, he had a more modest .915 save percentage. The Penguins, meanwhile, have a great offense loaded with dynamic scoring threats. They averaged a league-high 3.39 goals per game last season and were 31-6-4 at home.
Mitch Marner, TOR at WPG ($16): Marner was overshadowed by Auston Matthews, but he had a fine rookie season nonetheless with 61 points in 77 games — including 21 with the extra man. Toronto had the second best power play in 2016-17, whereas the Jets had the 26th-ranked penalty kill.
CENTER TO AVOID
Jake Guentzel, PIT vs. STL ($20): Kudos to Guentzel for his performance last season, but it’s hard to believe that he’ll do it again. He had a 19.8 shooting percentage, which is highly unlikely to be replicated. Additionally, he only had three power-play points, so he has yet to become a threat with the extra man.
Nikolaj Ehlers, WPG vs. TOR ($17): Ehlers scored 25 goals on 204 shots in his sophomore season, and he ended the year with a whopping 33 shots on net in his final eight contests. Toronto struggled to prevent shots last season, allowing an average of 32.6 per game. Experience may help the Maple Leafs in that regard, but that's unlikely to be the case right out of the gate.
Milan Lucic, EDM vs. CGY ($12): People were a bit disappointed in Lucic last year, his first in Edmonton. However, he was a legitimate power-play threat, notching 25 points with the extra man while averaging 2:44 per game on the power play. The Flames are starting Mike Smith in net, who has a career save percentage of .913. That could allow Lucic to start this year with a bang.
WINGERS TO AVOID
Wayne Simmonds, PHI at SAN ($21): Simmonds scored 31 goals last year, averaging 6.7 fantasy points per game. That's good, but there are several cheaper players that produced more. The Sharks only gave up an average of 2.44 goals and 27.7 shots on net per game last season, the latter of which was the third best in the league.
Jaden Schwartz, STL at PIT ($18): Pittsburgh's defensive numbers weren't great last year, but things were different with Matt Murray in net. He had a .923 save percentage during the regular season, and a .937 save percentage in the playoffs. With Murray tending goal, the Blues could have a tough night.
Dougie Hamilton, CGY at EDM ($17): Hamilton's shot total has increased with every season, hitting a grand total of 222 last year. He also set a career high in points (50) and produced double-digit power-play points for the third straight season. Edmonton was solid defensively last year, but it was mediocre on the penalty kill (17th).
Jacob Trouba, WPG vs. TOR ($16): Though Trouba played in only 60 games last season, he still tallied 33 points and 154 shots on net. Perhaps that's because he averaged a whopping 24:58 per game. The Leafs allowed 32.6 shots on net on average last year, but they also notched a lot of shot attempts as well. Trouba blocked 118 shots last season, so he could get in front of a few pucks in this one.
DEFENSE TO AVOID
Justin Schultz, PIT vs. STL ($19): Schultz enjoyed a breakout in his fifth season in the league, setting career highs across the board. Some regression may be inevitable, and this is also a potentially tough matchup. The Blues only allowed an average of 28.4 shots on net last year, and their penalty kill was ranked third.
Morgan Rielly, TOR at WPG ($17): Rielly averaged 5.3 fantasy points per game last year. Only one other player over $13 averaged less. He has a lot of offensive talent around him, but he may not be the one to take advantage of it. Even though the Jets struggled on the penalty kill last year, Rielly only averaged 0:58 on the power play last season.