This article is part of our DraftKings NHL series.
Thursday's NHL slate is a massive one, with 13 games on tap beginning at 7:00 PM Eastern time. Below, you'll find an overview of the matchups and suggested options for crafting an effective lineup.
There's a lot of enticing top-end talent in this slate, as the top-five Avalanche, Lightning and Capitals offenses are all set to take on bottom-10 defensive units in the Sharks, Wild and Devils, respectively. The two remaining top-five offensive units are also in action, with the Maple Leafs hosting the Flames and Panthers hosting the Kings. Deciding which stars to pay up for and which cheaper supporting options to lock in will make the difference between winning and losing lineups.
Ilya Samsonov ($8,300) of the Capitals should continue his outstanding rookie campaign at home against a bottom-10 Devils offense that's averaging just 2.65 goals per game. The 22-year-old Russian has won each of his last eight starts while posting a 1.62 GAA and .939 save percentage over that span.
Whomever the Stars select from their outstanding goalie duo of Ben Bishop ($8,200) and Anton Khudobin ($8,000) will be a chalk play in net against a Sabres team that's just 7-13-4 on the road. Bishop's 16-9-3 with a 2.23 GAA and .930 save percentage, while Khudobin's 11-6-1 with 2.13 and .932 marks.
Juuse Saros ($7,500) has been the better goalie for Nashville recently, with a 43-save effort in a losing cause followed by a 28-save shutout in his last two starts. If he gets the start over Pekka Rinne, Saros will be an enticing value pick against a Ducks team that's averaging the second-fewest goals per game in the league (2.43).
After consecutive shutout wins over the Golden Knights and Bruins, Elvis Merzlikins ($7,500) is now 6-2-0 with just 13 goals allowed in eight games as Columbus' starting goalie since Joonas Korpisalo got hurt. He has some serious GPP appeal against a Carolina team that ranks fourth in shots per game (3.37) but only 12th in goals (3.22).
Artemi Panarin ($6,800) had two goals and three assists in the Rangers' 6-2 victory over the Islanders on Monday. While the Islanders have been a stingy defensive team this season, allowing only 2.62 goals per game, the league's fourth-leading point scorer (26-41-67) has proven time and time again to be matchup-proof.
Auston Matthews ($8,000) has looked unstoppable of late, with his hat trick Tuesday giving the Maple Leafs star a 15-8-23 line in his last 13 games. He has the capability of carrying lineups in this home matchup against a visiting Flames team that owns a pedestrian 12-11-2 road record.
Mark Stone ($6,600) will have some extra motivation in this one, as the Golden Knights winger will be playing taking on his former team in Ottawa in what will be Vegas' first game under new coach Peter DeBoer. The winger has a 5-14-19 line over his past 17 games, so Stone is primed to exploit a vulnerable Senators defense that's permitting 3.35 goals per game.
In a slate full of appealing expensive options, finding sone cheaper value skaters is key. Tyler Johnson ($4,100) fits nicely into the latter category, as he's produced a 4-3-7 line over his past nine games and should continue to get scoring opportunities on a line with Steven Stamkos and Anthony Cirelli. The diminutive Lightning winger is a proven contributor, having scored as many as 72 points in a season before, and Johnson should build on his recent success against a Wild team that's allowing 3.37 goals per game — third-most in the league.
FORWARD LINE STACKS
Avalanche vs. Sharks
San Jose seemed to find an answer to its issues in net in the form of backup Aaron Dell, but Dell came crashing back down to earth in Tuesday's 6-3 loss to the previously slumping Coyotes offense. Colorado's three top players are back together on one line, and they should dominate against a Sharks team that's allowing 3.29 goals per game overall — seventh-most in the league. MacKinnon is in the thick of the Art Ross and Hart Trophy conversations, as his 27-41-68 line through 46 games is good for third league-wide in points behind Connor McDavid (74) and Leon Draisaitl (73) with two games in hand. Rantanen and Landeskog have both been limited to 30 appearances by injuries, producing 15-16-31 and 12-8-20 lines, respectively, but both guys are set for stronger second halves if they can stay healthy.
Panthers vs. Kings
This is one of the most dangerous lines in the league, and it should play up to its potential against a Kings team that's 7-15-4 on the road. Huberdeau's 18-43-61 line through 45 games has him ranked top-10 league-wide in points, Barkov's in the top 15 with a 14-35-49 line, and Dadonov leads the Panthers with 19 goals while ranking third on the team in points with 36.
Capitals vs. Devils
Washington will be looking to avenge Saturday's surprise home loss at the hands of the Devils, and this top line should ensure the Capitals take advantage of facing the league's second-worst defensive team (3.46 goals allowed per game) this time around. Ovechkin's 28 goals are tied with Jack Eichel for third in the league, behind David Pastrnak (36) and Matthews (34). Backstrom has been an excellent setup man for Ovie as usual, sporting a 9-26-35 line in 39 appearances. Wilson's on a 23-goal, 55-point pace with a 13-18-31 line in 46 games.
Kevin Shattenkirk ($3,900) has slowed down after a blistering start, but his 7-20-27 line through 46 games is still tremendous for a sub-$4,000 defenseman. Locking him in could pay major dividends against the defensively challenged Wild.
John Klingberg ($4,400) didn't skip a beat in his return from a lower-body injury Tuesday, picking up right where he left off with an assist in Colorado. That output gave the Dallas defenseman nine helpers in his last seven games played. Eleven of Klingberg's 19 points this season have come on the power play, so he's primed to exploit Buffalo's 74.8 percent penalty kill, which is fourth-worst in the league.
Cam Fowler ($4,900) leads the Ducks with seven power-play points. If Anaheim's struggling power play breaks through against Nashville's 30th-ranked, 73.4 percent penalty kill, Fowler's likely to be the man leading the charge.
If you still have a large chunk of change left over to spend on the blue line, John Carlson ($7,300) is a strong play as part of a Capitals stack or as a a stand-alone option against the lowly Devils. His 56 points through 47 games easily lead all defensemen, as Carlson's 10 points clear of second-place Roman Josi.