This article is part of our FanDuel NHL series.
Thursday's slate features 10 games, including the second half of a back-to-back between the Canucks and Oilers at 9 p.m. EST. The highlight will be Alexis Lafreniere's Rangers debut against the Islanders (7 p.m.) along with debuts with new teams for two of the biggest names in free agency, Zdeno Chara and Taylor Hall, when the Sabres host the Capitals (7 p.m.) Flames and Jets (8 p.m.) should make for pretty good viewing, as well.
Of course, this season will likely be more unpredictable, since players may shuffle in and out of the lineup with the addition of the taxi squad due to health concerns and/or the condensed schedule, so be sure to double-check your lineups and note any game-time decisions through RotoWire.
Note: FanDuel has included two Utility (C/W/D) spots this season, giving managers more flexibility than in past seasons. I will provide a few more players per section than usual to reflect this change.
Igor Shesterkin, NYR vs. NYI ($8,200): This is the Russian wunderkind's first chance to shine, and though it's a tough matchup, the Islanders offense doesn't exactly instill fear. They finished 22nd in GF/GP last season and didn't make any substantial changes to their offense. The Rangers should be able to provide plenty of goal support with three talented lines.
Petr Mrazek, CAR vs. DET ($8,100): I like the Hurricanes' odds in this game, but it feels expensive because Mrazek had a .905 Sv% last season. The Wings won't be nearly as bad as last season with an improved defense and goaltending. A win is likely, but with FanDuel's scoring system, allowing three or more goals basically negates a victory, so tread lightly.
Ilya Samsonov, WSH at BUF ($7,600): The Caps are a sleeping bear because they never seem to be fully awake in the first month of the season, and in the past two campaigns they've lost three of their first five games, but they're still a class above the Sabres. They have just two wins in regulation in their previous 16 games against the Caps.
Darcy Kuemper, ARI vs. SJ ($7,500): Kuemper ranks first in save percentage (.924) since the 2017-18 season and finished top-10 in Vezina voting in the past two seasons. The primary concern? Goal support, so it's a good thing the Sharks have arguably the worst goalies in the division, which should make it easier for the Coyotes offense.
Elias Lindholm, CGY at WPG ($5,200): Lindholm scored a career-high 29 goals last season, and he should be much higher on the list of wingers. He was Calgary's most consistent player most nights, and he's slated to play center on the top line with Matthew Tkachuk on his wing. Playing in the middle will give Lindholm more space to make plays.
Alexis Lafreniere, NYR vs. NYI ($4,800): This will be Lafreniere's NHL debut, and his elite playmaking ability can drastically alter the course of the franchise. The Islanders are a stout defensive team, but they traded Devon Toews and lost Johnny Boychuk to LTIR, both of whom were big pieces in their playoff run. Lafreniere is being sheltered on the third line and should see easier defensive matchups than the top two lines.
Max Domi, CBJ at NSH ($4,500): He's vowed to shoot more this season, and we'll have to see if that's true, but at least we know he's not getting buried on the fourth line. Domi's a skilled playmaker who has not yet fulfilled his expectations, but he has the ultimate button-pusher behind him in head coach John Tortorella.
Jordan Staal, CAR at DET ($4,000): He's a great value play because of his linemates: Andrei Svechnikov and Martin Necas. This was Trocheck's usual spot, but Rod Brind'Amour has flipped them around, so consider it a fluid situation, but at this salary it's hard to pass up this strong value play.
Kirill Kaprizov, MIN at LA ($4,000): Kaprizov was a star in the KHL and is now skating on the top line with Zach Parise (nice) centered by Nick Bjugstad (not so nice). It's not a stretch to say that he should be the primary scorer on that line, and it's been years since the Kings have been strong defensively.
Jack Studnicka, BOS at NJ ($3,800): He opens the season on the top line in David Pastrnak's spot. Obviously, Studnicka isn't in Pastrnak's class, but he's got top-six upside of his own, leading AHL Providence in goals last season and scoring at a point-per-game pace in his last two seasons of major junior.
Kaapo Kakko, NYR vs. NYI ($3,700): Don't forget about him even with Lafreniere in the fold; Kakko was a high-impact player in the playoffs and will play on a line with leading scorers Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome. That's a big vote of confidence from head coach David Quinn, who had a lot of praise for him after the playoffs.
Filip Zadina, DET vs. CAR ($3,500): Zadina and Robby Fabbri will form the heart of a high-risk, high-upside second line. Zadina has successfully competed his AHL internship, as is tradition with most Detroit prospects, and he's ready to step into a top-six role right away. He's a fearless shooter, so his playing style benefits from FanDuel's scoring system.
Nils Hoglander, VAN at EDM ($3,000): Get him while he's cheap! The Canucks have ushered in another highlight-reel rookie in Hoglander, who scored in his NHL debut Wednesday playing on Bo Horvat's line. The big bonus? He fit in very well on the top power-play unit in J.T. Miller's absence.
Tomas Hertl, SJ at ARI ($3,000): This price must be a mistake, because he scored 74 points in 77 games just two seasons ago. Hertl battled injuries last season but arrived to camp healthy. This might be one of the more obvious value plays I've seen on the DFS front in awhile.
Sabres vs. Capitals
The addition of Thompson keeps the cost of this line stack low, but don't discount him because of his price. He's a big forward whose primary job will be to win battles and get pucks to his linemates, putting him in a good position to grab an apple or two.
Red Wings vs. Hurricanes
Mantha's got the rare blend of size and elite goal-scoring ability, and this line is good enough to be a top unit for most teams. They combined for eight points in three games against Carolina last season.
Oilers vs. Canucks
They showed good chemistry all night and if not for some big stops by Braden Holtby, they would've finished with more points. Draisaitl is an elite player whom the Canucks had trouble containing Wednesday, while Yamamoto and Kahun are both very skilled scorers.
Sharks at Coyotes
Sure, there's question marks, but you can't beat this value. Hertl is just one season removed from a point-per-game showing, Kane's issues are off-ice and not related to his on-ice play, and Leonard led the NCAA in goals last season. This line has size, tenacity and some quick hands, and it should be one of the best value stacks of the night.
Alex Pietrangelo, VGK vs. ANH ($6,200): Normally, I don't highlight the top-tier defensemen because their value is obvious, but Vegas has confirmed that it will open the season with just five (!) defensemen in the lineup. They're either doing some early-season experimenting or planning on relying on two pairings the entire season. Either way, look for Pietrangelo to log tons of minutes.
Erik Karlsson, SJ at ARI ($5,400): On reputation alone, Karlsson's production should exceed his value, though there's obviously considerable risk. He hasn't looked the same since leaving Ottawa and he doesn't shoot the puck as often as Brent Burns to have a reliable fantasy floor.
Jaccob Slavin, CAR at DET ($4,200): Slavin does it all for the Hurricanes, and even if he doesn't score many points, he tends to block a lot of shots. He's a safe pick.
P.K. Subban, NJ vs. BOS ($4,000): His output has declined over the years, but he will man the Devils' top power-play unit with his big shot. It's Subban's spot for now until Sami Vatanen joins the team, at which point they'll probably split the duties.