This article is part of our DraftKings NHL series.
It's a quiet three-game night in the NHL on Friday with Buffalo hosting Florida, Anaheim visiting Columbus and the Islanders facing the Hurricanes in Carolina. In a shallow player pool it's important to walk the line of differentiating your lineups while also ensuring you have exposure to the top players.
The bout between the Sabres and Panthers features two teams off to surprising starts. After adding Sergei Bobrovsky ($7,000) to improve its netminding, Florida has allowed 14 goals through three games with just a single win. Buffalo has scored 18 times and owns an impressive 3-0-1 record.
The Ducks lost 2-1 to Pittsburgh on Thursday, so this projects as a tough schedule spot for Anaheim. Additionally, Columbus is well rested and notable favorites (-150). There's potential for Ryan Miller ($7,300) to make his season debut, which is a downgrade from John Gibson ($7,500).
Carolina is the largest favorite (-180) of the slate. The Hurricanes have won four straight to open the season while scoring 3.83 goals per 60 minutes and driving possession with a 52.9 Corsi For percentage. The Islanders are playing stingy defense again this season with eight goals allowed through three games, so there's potential for this to be a low-scoring affair.
It's been a poor start to the campaign for Sergei Bobrovsky ($7,000), but three disappointing games shouldn't knock his salary this far down. He posted an impressive 115-63-12 record, .922 save percentage and 2.35 GAA through 190 games over the previous three seasons, after all. Buffalo also sports a middle-of-the-road 2.03 expected goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five through four games, so the matchup isn't daunting.
With consecutive wins and the low-scoring Islanders on tap, Petr Mrazek ($8,000) is worth a look. While his numbers since joining Carolina don't jump off the page (.912 save percentage and 2.41 GAA), the 27-year-old netminder has shown flashes throughout his career and is priced reasonably considering Carolina's excellent underlying statistics.
After missing the scoresheet in consecutive games to open the season, Pierre-Luc Dubois ($5,300) collected an assist Monday against Buffalo. He's coming off a breakout campaign and remains the No. 1 center in all situations for the Blue Jackets, and the Ducks are playing their second game in consecutive nights.
Rickard Rakell ($5,100) registered eight shots during Thursday's loss to the Penguins, so look for the two-time, 30-goal scorer to improve his puck luck. He owns an unsustainably low 6.3 shooting percent to start the campaign after registering a 13.6 mark through the previous four years.
With a tally in Monday's overtime win, Oliver Bjorkstrand ($4,100) is up to an elite 2.15 goals and impressive 2.91 points per 60 minutes through his past 36 games. Slotting into a secondary offensive role also helps him find favorable on-ice matchups, and the 24-year-old winger is still in buy-low territory.
Isac Lundestrom ($3,200) and Evan Rodrigues ($3,100) are potential low-priced fliers projected to play meaningful minutes. Lundestrom, a 2018 first-round selection, is centering an intriguing line consisting of countrymen Rickard Rakell ($5,100) and Jakob Silfverberg ($4,700), whereas Rodrigues is slotted to play with Casey Mittelstadt ($3,700) and Jimmy Vesey ($3,400) while also receiving power-play looks with the second unit.
FORWARD LINE STACKS
Florida has loaded up its top line with Aleksander Barkov ($6,700), Jonathan Huberdeau ($6,100) and Mike Hoffman ($7,000) and the trio has scored 7.71 goals per 60 minutes over the past two years. The Panthers are also floundering a bit to start the season with a 1-2 start, and Buffalo is the exact opposite with a 3-0-1 start, so there's potential for a righting of the ship for both clubs.
The new-look No. 1 line in Carolina has shared the ice for just 48:57 at five-on-five, but Sebastian Aho ($6,500), Nino Niederreiter ($4,500) and Teuvo Teravainen ($5,900) have dominated with a 61.5 Corsi For percentage while generating 17.2 high-danger scoring chances per 60 minutes. Obviously, the Islanders ability to play low-event hockey and keep games low scoring is a concern, but Aho, Niederreiter and Teravainen don't break the bank and should be on your radar.
Fantasy owners have been anticipating Dougie Hamilton's ($6,300) true breakout for a few years, so there probably shouldn't be any surprise if he puts it all together and posts elite numbers. So far, so good, and it's not unheard of for blueliners to hit their offensive primes later than forwards. Until the 26-year-old defenseman begins to slow down, he's worth considering night in, night out.
Off to a monster start, Rasmus Dahlin ($5,900) is quickly establishing himself as a high-end fantasy asset. His price is reasonable, and the Panthers have struggled defensively to start the season with 4.67 goals allowed per 60 minutes.
Everything went downhill for Nick Leddy ($3,700) last season. He recorded just 1.15 points per 60 minutes after posting a respectable 1.41 mark from 2015-16 to 2017-18. He's now gone three games to open the 2019-20 campaign without a point. However, his salary has plummeted as a result, and Leddy is still skating with the No. 1 power-play unit, so there's definitely potential for him to reward on his cap hit.
It's been a modest start in Carolina for Jake Gardiner ($3,400), as he's collected two points, six shots and five blocks through four games. His usage is encouraging, though. Gardiner is starting 67.4 percent of his five-on-five shifts in the offensive zone while quarterbacking the No. 2 power-play unit. At this price, he's got potential to cruise over value.