This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Hockey series.
Welcome to a new NHL season, and a new year of DFS hockey. Of course, this season is quite different than any that has come before it, and not just because its mid-January start. The divisions have changed, with teams only playing within their division. That's significant for the standings, but also for fantasy purposes. For teams playing in a division with great goaltending, goals could be harder to come by. The general lack of fans figures to have an impact on home-ice advantage, as well.
While there are five games taking play Wednesday, the game between the Penguins and Flyers at 5:30 p.m. EDT is not included for DFS purposes. That means you'll have until 7:00 p.m. EDT to assemble your virtual squad from four games worth of players.
Let's look at some options to get things (hopefully) started off on the right foot...
Frederik Andersen, TOR vs. MON ($33): Andersen faltered a bit last season, as he only had a .909 save percentage. However, in the four prior seasons he had posted save percentages between .917 and .919. The Canadiens averaged 2.93 goals per game last season, which is the lowest of any team in action Wednesday.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Jordan Binnington, STL at COL ($31): In his magical first campaign, Binnington posted a 1.89 GAA and a .927 save percentage. Last year he still had a respectable 2.56 GAA, but with a .912 save percentage. Also, Binnington struggled so much in the playoffs that he got replaced by Jake Allen. Alex Pietrangelo is no longer patrolling the blue line, and he's been replaced by the defensively unpredictable Torey Krug. Also, the Avalanche ranked fourth in goals per game last year and are loaded with offensive talent.
Brayden Point, TAM vs. CHI ($30): What will happen with Nikita Kucherov out for the season? Will it hurt Point's numbers, or will he have a bigger role that yields even more production? Last season he had 64 points n 66 games. The Blackhawks have the worst goaltending situation in the NHL, with Malcolm Subban on top of the depth chart. He had an .890 save percentage last season and a .902 mark the year prior.
CENTER TO AVOID
Ryan O'Reilly, STL at COL ($24): O'Reilly had 61 points in 71 games last year, but only 12 of those were goals. On top of that, only two of his 18 power-play points were goals. Vladimir Tarasenko is still hurt, and with Krug now around, he could be rack up plenty of assists that would normally go to O'Reilly.
Brock Boeser, VAN at EDM ($19): Boeser only had 16 goals in 57 games last season, but that was with a 9.5 shooting percentage. His previous career low was 12.4. He's also only 23, which means he's likely not yet reached his peak, especially with Elias Pettersson as his center. Mikko Koskinen had a .917 save percentage last year, but with a 2.75 GAA. The Oilers allowed an average of 32.0 shots on goal in 2019-20, and I could see that number increasing this year with the makeup of the roster and Oscar Klefbom out for the whole season.
Alex Chiasson, EDM vs. VAN ($11): Of importance is the fact Chiasson averaged 2:13 of power-play ice time last year, which helped him record 13 man-advantage points in 65 games. He was given the gift of being a winger on the top power-play unit for the best power play in the NHL next to Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and with that not appearing to have changed, he makes for a fantastic value play.
WINGS TO AVOID
Patrick Kane, CHI at TAM ($30): Kane has the highest salary of any winger, but the talent around him is thinning out due to injuries and moves to other clubs, not to mention the aging of players like Duncan Keith. Andrei Vasilevskiy had an 1.88 GAA and .931 save percentage from the start of March on last season, including a run to a Stanley Cup victory, so we'd probably steer clear of Kane in this one.
Andre Burakovsky, COL vs. STL ($19): Burakovsky had his first 20-goal season last year, but that was with a 19.4 shooting percentage that is bound to regress. Also, 11 of his points came on the power play, and I expect his power-play time to drop given that Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen are both healthy. Also, despite Binnington's drop in personal numbers, the Blues still ranked fifth in team GAA last year.
Darnell Nurse, EDM vs. VAN ($18): Nurse's offensive numbers dropped last season, but he still contributed on both ends of the ice. The 25-year-old put 170 shots on goal in 71 games while also blocking 146 shots. Braden Holtby has joined the Canucks, but can he fine his old form? He had a 3.11 GAA and .897 save percentage last season, and he hasn't had a GAA better than 2.82 in his last three campaigns.
Morgan Rielly, TOR vs. MON ($17): Two years ago, Rielly had 20 goals and 52 assists in a breakout campaign. Last year, he dropped down to three goals and 24 assists, admittedly in only 47 games. Prior to last year, Rielly had over 20 power-play points in two straight campaigns, and the Canadiens had the 19th-ranked penalty kill last year. If nothing else, Rielly should have a better campaign with the extra man in 2021.
DEFENSE TO AVOID
Quinn Hughes, VAN at EDM ($19): Hughes was tremendous in his rookie campaign, especially on the power play – 25 of his 53 points came with the extra man. That said, the Oilers had the second-ranked penalty kill last season. If they keep that up, Hughes could be in for a rough outing.
Vince Dunn, STL at COL ($17): Maybe this salary is under the assumption that with Pietrangelo having moved on, Dunn might get a bigger role. It won't be on the power play, though, as Krug has arrived. Colton Parayko is also more likely to have an increased role for the Blues than Dunn. He had 23 points last year, 10 of them on the power play. However, that was while averaging only 1:30 with the extra man. He averaged 4.5 fantasy points per game, and a lot of defensemen with lower salaries averaged more.