This article is part of our DraftKings NHL series.
Thursday's NHL slate is a busy one, with 11 games on tap after 7:00 PM Eastern time. Below, you'll find an overview of the matchups and suggested options for crafting an effective lineup.
With no shortage of high-end goalies and star scorers in favorable matchups, the key to success in this slate will be identifying which studs to pay up for and which affordable options to round out your lineup with.
The defending Stanley Cup champions take on the league's worst team from a season ago, creating an ideal scenario for owners to stack Blues in Ottawa. Given their top-end talent up front and matchup against a vulnerable Devils team completing the second game of a back-to-back, the Oilers should populate plenty of lineups as well. Same goes for Chicago's top skaters against a Sharks team that's been outscored 17-5 in an 0-4-0 start. While other games are less clear-cut, there are plenty of enticing alternatives in action on this busy night of NHL action, such as the many stars from what should be a high-scoring Lightning-Maple Leafs game.
The Coyotes have scored only one goal through two games, so Vegas' Marc-Andre Fleury ($8,200) is sure to be a popular pick against them.
Carey Price's ($8,300) team is playing its second game in as many nights, but the star netminder will be fresh in his first action since Saturday. He brings a 1-0-1 record into this home matchup with a Red Wings team that's expected to finish near the bottom of the standings.
Connor Hellebuyck's ($8,000) another high-tier netminder primed for success. He gave up five goals to the Rangers in his first start but bounced back beautifully in his second with 37 saves in a 4-1 win at Pittsburgh. Winnipeg's long-awaited home opener comes against a winless Wild team that's been outscored 9-4 through two games. With excellent offensive support, Hellebuyck's well positioned to pick up his 80th win since the start of the 2017-18 season.
John Gibson ($7,400) of the Ducks is a nice option for owners looking to save money in net. The Pittsburgh native has won his first three starts while posting a sparkling 1.00 GAA and .970 save percentage. His homecoming will be against a beat-up Penguins team that's missing three key contributors in Evgeni Malkin, Patric Hornqvist and Nick Bjugstad due to lower-body injuries.
James Neal ($5,500) has six goals in his last two games and has scored all four of Edmonton's power-play goals this season. The veteran sniper may not share the ice with the team's two superstars at even strength, but he makes the most of their time together with the extra man and is as hot as it gets heading into a meeting with a Devils team that's been outscored 16-6 through three games.
Patrik Laine ($6,500) already has six points through four games, and he's achieved that production despite scoring only one goal on 12 shots. Laine's shot is the strength of his game, and his career 15.8 shooting percentage is nearly double his current small-sample 8.3 percent rate. The upward correction in his shooting percentage could well begin in this home matchup against the 0-2-0 Wild.
Calgary's Johnny Gaudreau ($6,900) is off to a hot start with two goals and four assists through three games. A 1-3-0 Stars team is unlikely to slow Johnny Hockey down.
Auston Matthews ($8,000) is a notoriously hot starter, and he already has five goals on 19 shots through four games. The star center's prolific scoring pace should continue against a fast-paced Lightning team that's scored 11 goals and also conceded 10 through three games.
FORWARD LINE STACKS
Oilers at Devils
Locking in Edmonton's two best players will cost a pretty penny, but it should be worth it against a Devils team that's playing its second game in as many nights and has been outscored 16-6 in its 0-2-1 start. McDavid and Draisaitl both topped the 100-point mark last season, and they are both off to flying starts with eight and seven points, respectively. Kassian has done a great job riding their coattails in the early going, opening the season with a three-game goal streak and adding an assist to boot.
Blackhawks vs. Sharks
This line is constructed similarly to Edmonton's top line above, with the more affordable Nylander joining two established stars. Kane's coming off a 110-point campaign and logged three points in Chicago's only game thus far. Toews was blanked in the opener, but he likely won't take long to mark the scoresheet after recording 81 points last season. Nylander failed to live up to his lofty draft-day status after being selected eighth overall in 2016 by the Sabres, but an offseason change of scenery may have been just what the doctor ordered for William's little brother, as Alexander lit the lamp in his Blackhawks debut.
Blues at Senators
Depth is one of the strengths of the defending Stanley Cup champions, and this line comes in cheaper than the team's other top-six line but is arguably more effective. O'Reilly's the best center on the team and has been a point-per-game player through three coming off a 77-point campaign. The 23-year-old Blais drew rave reviews in camp and appears to be at the start of a breakout season, with two goals and two assists in a three-game point streak to start the year. Perron also has a three-game point streak going (one goal, two assists) along with nine shots. All three of these guys are primed to build on their hot starts against a Senators team that's living up to its billing as one of the league's cellar dwellers, having been outscored 9-4 in two losses to kick off the season.
Alex Pietrangelo ($6,100) is one of the top defensemen in the game, having topped 50 points three times while eclipsing 40 seven times in nine seasons since becoming a full-time NHLer. He already has two goals on 10 shots through three games and is primed to build on that output against the lowly Senators.
With four assists through three games, Tampa Bay's Mikhail Sergachev ($3,900) offers nice offensive upside at a low cost in a game against the Maple Leafs that features plenty of offensive firepower on both sides.
Mathew Dumba ($4,500) has been one of the few bright spots for the Wild in their slow start, totaling a goal and an assist along with six shots through two games after averaging .63 points per game in the previous two seasons. Winnipeg has had some defensive issues with 15 goals allowed through four games, and the affordable Dumba should capitalize if those issues crop back up here.
Ryan Ellis ($5,500) has stuffed the stat sheet with a goal, two assists, nine shots and seven blocks through three games. Ellis' Predators face a difficult matchup at home against the Capitals, but Ellis' well-rounded skill set should still keep him in lineup consideration at his modest $5,500 valuation.