This article is part of our FanDuel NHL series.
The NHL schedule couldn't be any crazier this year, could it? After just one game yesterday, there are 13 games today. The Panthers and Stars are both playing just their third games of the season and they're looking to remain undefeated. It's the beginning of a tough stretch for the Central Division, which has been hit with COVID protocols. Starting today, the Panthers will play 54 games in 101 days and the Stars will play 54 in 103.
We've also reached a point where teams are starting to rotate players from the taxi squad to keep everyone fresh. Leafs veteran Jason Spezza (rest) will not play, and neither will Jack Roslovic (coach's decision), who will attend a couple more practices before making his Jackets debut. Adam Boqvist and Alex DeBrincat will not dress for Chicago after being put in COVID protocol, as well..
All fancy stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick.
Philipp Grubauer, COL vs. SJ ($8,300): The Avs re-configured their defense during the offseason and have allowed 25 shots or less in three of Grubauer's five starts. There's bound to be some inconsistency with so many new bodies (Devon Toews, Conor Timmins, Bowen Byram and, briefly, Greg Pateryn), but it's a very good group – the Avs rank eighth in xGA/GP at 5-on-5.
Kaapo Kahkonen, MIN vs. LA ($8,100): This is assuming Cam Talbot remains sidelined, but this should be an interesting matchup. The Wild are first in the league with a 72.37 CF% in high-danger areas, while the Kings are last with 35.71 CF% and rank 25th in ES Sv% at .906. It might not be pretty but the Wild should get the win.
Anton Khudobin, DAL vs. DET ($8,100): The Stars have been impressive despite the delay to their season, powered by a power play that has already scored eight goals. They should not have any trouble against the Wings, who are very shorthanded and rank 24th in penalty killing. Khudobin will be a popular pick.
Juuse Saros, NSH vs. CHI ($7,200): He's looked very shaky this season but the Hawks will not have Boqvist or DeBrincat in the lineup, taking out two of their better offensive weapons. The Predators' depth up front and on defense should be able to pull through.
Sergei Bobrovsky, FLA at CBJ ($7,000): This will be Bobrovsky's second appearance of the season after allowing four goals against the Hawks, so it's understandable to feel a little queasy making this choice. However, only seven Jackets forwards have scored a goal, they're 26th in GF/GP and Max Domi (0-2-2 in 6 GP) is currently their top center.
Jakub Vrana, WSH vs. NYI ($4,900): He's still undervalued relative to his role as the first-line left winger. He has been very good in Alex Ovechkin's absence, averaging over 18 minutes a game with a goal and three points on four shots in the series against the Sabres. The Islanders' defense may be stout, but Vrana has eight points in 15 career games against them despite averaging only 12:49 per contest.
Alexandre Texier, CBJ vs. FLA ($4,300): Head coach John Tortorella loves him, so that means Texier's going to get a lot of ice time. A former top player in the Finnish Elite League as a teenager, Texier is the second-line center by title only; in just about every game, he's outplayed Max Domi. The Panthers defense remains shaky, ranking 26th in shots allowed per game and 13th in GA/GP.
Kasperi Kapanen, PIT at BOS ($4,200): With Evan Rodrigues injured, Kapanen finally moves up the lineup to Evgeni Malkin's line. He had two assists in two games with bottom-six duty and averaging just 12 minutes per game. His production and ice time should trend up given his new role and strong play despite missing the beginning of the season.
Alexis Lafreniere, NYR at BUF ($4,200): It's only a matter of time, right? He played a season-high 18 minutes against the Penguins and drawn praise from head coach Dan Quinn even though he has yet to score a single point. Lafreniere will skate on the top line once again with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider.
Carter Verhaeghe, FLA at CBJ ($3,900): He's off to a terrific start and potted two goals last game skating on Aleksander Barkov's line. Verhaeghe is getting his first real shot in a top-six role in the NHL after appearing in 52 games with Tampa last season and led their AHL affiliate in scoring with 82 points in 76 games the season prior. Verhaeghe's offensive output is no fluke; he's just finally getting a chance to showcase it.
Pius Suter, CHI at NSH ($3,700): The former Swiss league MVP finally broke out with a hat trick in his last game after a quiet start. Playing on a line with Patrick Kane obviously helps, but it's also reassuring to know that Suter won't just defer and is willing to shoot the puck. He has 15 shots through six games.
Jordan Kyrou, STL at VGK ($3,700): His two helpers against the Kings gives him six points on the season and his role will expand if he continues at this pace. He's an offensive threat on the ice and a very good fit on a line with Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn. The trio has an impressive 61.33 CF% at 5-on-5.
Jesse Puljujarvi, EDM at WPG ($3,500): He looked excellent on the top line with Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He had an assist and a team-high six shots last game. He's one of the best value plays of the night.
Gabriel Vilardi, LA at MIN ($3,500): Vilardi's playing on the third line, but his playmaking talent is evident. He has three goals in five games and plays on the second power-play unit.
Ryan Donato, SJ at COL ($3,300): Donato's not very consistent, but he's been put in a position to succeed on the top line. He had two points in his last game against Minnesota. The other sneaky play is former NCAA standout John Leonard ($3,100), who is skating on the second line but has just two helpers this season.
Connor McMichael, WSH vs. NYI ($3,000): With 26 teams in action, it feels like we're really reaching here, but McMichael is a fine offensive talent who is slated to skate on the second line. He played just 10 minutes in his NHL debut, but managed to get two shot attempts.
Devils vs. Flyers
I continue to like this line because Hughes is undervalued at this salary and Palmieri is one of the most consistent wingers in the league. Sharangovich is a staple on this line so his ice time is at least consistent even if his offensive production isn't.
Capitals vs. Islanders
Oshie's offense is starting to pick up with a point in three straight games. What I love about this line stack is how much the Caps will have to lean on this line to create offense. Backstrom and Oshie both played 22 minutes last game, and Vrana played 18 minutes. They rank first, fourth and third in scoring on the team, respectively. The next highest goal scorer is Nic Dowd, who has 26 goals in 257 career games.
Stars vs. Red Wings
Benn will be a game-time decision, and if he can't play look for Tanner Kero ($3,000) to take his spot. In just over nine minutes of 5v5 play, Pavelski's line generated 13 chances and just two against on Sunday against Nashville. They should be dominant again against a much weaker team. Roope Hintz's line with Jason Dickinson and Denis Gurianov is also worth a stack, though they tend to be a little less consistent and don't have the same power-play upside.
Shea Theodore, VGK vs. STL ($6,100): He's as good as any of the top-tier defensemen when it comes to generating offense. He has three goals and three assists this season, and even if he doesn't find the score sheet, he's usually a good source of shots.
John Klingberg, DAL vs. DET ($5,700): Since entering the NHL, Klingberg ranks 10th among defenseman in both points and power-play points. He has a good chance to pad those stats against a bad team. The Stars PP will come back down to earth at some point, but Detroit hardly seems like the opponent that will shut them out.
Adam Fox, NYR at BUF ($4,500): Fox is the Rangers' best defenseman already, and with four assists this season it seems highly unlikely he'll relinquish his spot on the first PP unit. He leads all Rangers defensemen in points, shots and ice time.
Charlie McAvoy, BOS vs. PIT ($4,400): He's not the ideal PP QB because his offense isn't particularly dynamic, but he gets to play that role and that gives him a lot of fantasy value. McAvoy has a high floor because he blocks a lot of shots.
Ty Smith, PHI at NJ ($3,900): We're riding Smith's hot hand until the hockey gods cry mercy. Smith has six points in five games and currently holds the longest active points streak among rookies. He's been fantastic and even popped up on the first power-play unit last game.
Filip Hronek, DET at DAL ($3,600): Hronek is unquestionably a very talented offensive defenseman with four assists this season even though the Wings aren't very good. He plays a lot, isn't afraid to shoot the puck or block shots, and among defensemen averaging double-digit fantasy points, also has the lowest salary.
Bowen Byram, COL vs. SJ ($3,500): If all goes according to plan, Byram's rise will be meteoric. He played around 18 minutes against the Ducks, and through three games, he has an assist on seven shots.