This article is part of our FanDuel NHL series.
The 2021-22 NHL season officially kicks off Tuesday with two games on the slate, highlighted by the expansion Seattle Kraken's first ever game in Vegas, who won the Presidents' Trophy last season and ranked second in the league with 21 wins at home.
The two-time defending champion Lightning will host the Penguins, who will be without many of their key players including Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jake Guentzel. Even though the Lightning lost a lot of depth via free agency and the expansion draft this past summer, they're -205 favorites.
Andrei Vasilevskiy, TB vs. PIT ($8,700): No need to overthink this. The reigning Conn Smythe winner and undisputed No. 1 goalie in the league should be a popular pick against the injury-riddled Pens. The Lightning can provide plenty of goal support, ranking eighth in GF/GP last season without Nikita Kucherov, and with no Crosby, Malkin and Guentzel, Vasilevskiy should improve his career 3.18 GAA against the Pens.
Robin Lehner, VGK vs. SEA ($8,400): The Kraken are an unknown quantity but may not be at full strength with Jared McCann, Marcus Johansson, Calle Jarnkrok and Joonas Donskoi placed under the league's COVID-19 protocol. Lehner has historically been very good at the beginning of the season, with a career .927 Sv% and 2.42 GAA in October.
Jeff Carter, PIT at TB ($4,900): Carter will start as their No. 1 center, likely with Bryan Rust and Danton Heinen on his wings. The 36-year-old pivot's best days are behind him but he's still a high-volume shooter and collected nine goals and 11 points in 14 games with the Pens last season. On a team with Cup aspirations, Carter should be motivated and continue where he left off.
Evan Rodrigues, PIT at TB ($3,900): Rodrigues will center the second line with Jason Zucker and Kasperi Kapanen on his wings. He's been elevated on the depth chart due to injuries, but coming into the league, Rodrigues was known for scoring goals playing with Jack Eichel at Boston U. Rodrigues provides additional upside as the center for PP2.
Chandler Stephenson, VGK vs. SEA ($3,600): Stephenson will likely be a bargain all season with Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty on his wings. The speedy center set career highs across the board with 35 points in 51 games last season, a 56-point pace over 82 games. The drawback is Stephenson is not expected to play on either power play units.
Peyton Krebs, VGK vs. SEA ($3,000): Vegas' top prospect is expected to be in the lineup with injuries to bottom-six forwards William Carrier, Mattias Janmark and Nicolas Roy. The 17th overall pick in 2019 was a point-per-game player in five AHL games last season and will see time on PP2.
Lightning vs. Penguins
Note Brayden Point's line will be a very popular stack, but Stamkos has 37 points in 35 games against the Pens in his career. Cirelli is coming off a disappointing 22-point season but in the season prior scored 44 points in 68 games. There's some untapped offense there and he will be their No. 2 option behind Point all season with Yanni Gourde now in Seattle. The Pens will likely hard match their top pairing against Point's line, which means Cirelli's line will draw the easier matchup, likely against Mike Matheson and John Marino.
Golden Knights vs. Kraken
Stephenson's cheap salary keeps the cost of this line stack down. The Kraken don't really have a shutdown pair at the moment – though it's likely to be Adam Larsson's pair – which means going with the Knight's first line is a safe option. It'll be a popular stack; Stone and Paciorettty finished 1-2 in scoring on the team last season.
Alex Pietrangelo, VGK vs. SEA ($6,400): He was the Knights' best player in the playoffs last season, and if Shea Theodore is unavailable, look for Pietrangelo to take a big chunk of those minutes, especially on the power play. The Kraken may surprise everyone, just as the Knights did in their inaugural season, but there's no debate the Knights are one of the best teams in the league. Pietrangelo's production was slightly off pace with 23 points in 41 games last season, but he also has four 50-point seasons under his belt, and in two other seasons has come within four points of reaching 50. His usage might give him the edge over Victor Hedman as the top defenseman available for Tuesday's slate.
Mikhail Sergachev, TB vs. PIT ($4,800): Sergachev is expected to take another leap forward after playing a depth role in last year's playoffs behind Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh and David Savard. He's scored at least 30 points in four straight seasons and should also rebound from a career-low 3.7 S%. He will likely quarterback PP2, and note the Pens' PK ranked 27th last season.
Mark Giordano, SEA at VGK ($4,600): It's a good bet the former Flames captain will lead the fledgling Kraken is minutes played. He will play in all situations and quarterback PP1, which the Kraken will likely load up with talent because there isn't enough to spread it over two units. Even if Giordano doesn't score any points, he's been a consistent shot blocker, averaging around two blocks per game in his career.