This article is part of our FanDuel NHL series.
Hockey returned for the 2021-22 season when the defending champion Lightning hosted the Penguins on Tuesday night followed by a clash between expansion team Seattle and the Golden Knights. We'll get a full five-game slate Wednesday night. The Avalanche (-215) are the largest favorites this evening, while the Capitals (-126) are the narrowest favorites.
Connor Hellebuyck, WPG at ANH ($8,400): Hellebuyck is a chalky play on Opening Night, as he takes on the Ducks, who ranked 30th in the league last year with just 2.21 goals per game. Rather than making a big splash in free agency, the Ducks are counting on their youth to take the next step. That's a risky proposition, and Hellebuyck is good enough to shut them down either way. FanDuel Sportsbook lists this game at a slate-low 5.5 O/U, too.
Jack Campbell, TOR vs. MON ($8,100): Campbell surprised the league last year with a .921 save percentage, 2.15 GAA and a 17-3-2 record with two shutouts, and he has won the No. 1 job outright to begin the 2021-22 campaign. The Canadiens enter Wednesday's game with most of last year's roster intact, though they won't have Shea Weber (ankle) in the lineup. The Maple Leafs should have the edge purely in terms of talent, and home ice for the opener doesn't hurt, either.
Marc-Andre Fleury, CHI at COL ($7,300): It's easy to forget that Fleury won the Vezina Trophy last season with a .928 save percentage and a 26-10-0 record with the Golden Knights. Nevertheless, he was traded to Chicago during the summer. His situation in the Windy City will be tougher than it was in Vegas. However, he'll have a decent shot at an upset right out of the gate, as the Avalanche will be missing Nathan MacKinnon (COVID-19 protocol) on Wednesday. Thus, Fleury is useful in tournaments but should be left out of your lineup in cash games.
Cole Caufield, MON at TOR ($5,600): Caufield showcased his upside on the biggest stage last season: in the playoffs. He posted four goals and eight assists across 12 postseason games. The Hobey Baker winner is a pure sniper, and he'll immediately slide in on the top line to start the season.
Andre Burakovsky, COL vs. CHI ($5,400): I'm still excited about Fleury tonight in select lineups, but Burakovsky has immense upside as a middle-priced wing. He has posted 39 goals over 111 games with the Avalanche. He's also poised to line up on PP1 where he accrued 14 points last season.
Jesse Puljujarvi, EDM vs. VAN ($4,200): Puljujarvi, 23, posted 15 goals and 10 assists last season at age 22. He'll line up with Connor McDavid ($8,800) and Leon Draisaitl ($8,700), sending his ceiling to the moon. McDavid and Draisaitl have such a high bar to clear to make their valuation worth it, but sneaking Puljujarvi into your lineup solo is a wise play at this price range.
Nick Ritchie, TOR vs. MON ($3,500): Ritchie is coming off a career-high 15 goals in Boston last season, and he'll get an opportunity to keep it up immediately, as he's expected to flank John Tavares on the top line Wednesday.
Canucks at Oilers
Pettersson missed the final 19 games of the regular season and all of the playoffs last year, but he has a new contract and is healthy to begin his fourth NHL season. When he's at 100 percent, Pettersson is one of the league's premier goal scorers; he posted 28 goals in his age-19 season. The Oilers failed to address their defensive needs this offseason, as they brought in an aging Duncan Keith and re-signed offensive defenseman Tyson Barrie. We could see some of those faults immediately Wednesday.
Blackhawks at Avalanche
Johnson had a rough couple of years in Tampa Bay beside the two Stanley Cups. He posted 22 goals and 31 assists through 120 games, and he was mostly relegated to the bottom six last season. Now, he'll get a fresh start in Chicago centering two snipers, as both Kane and DeBrincat have two 30-goal seasons over the last two years. Furthermore, the trio lines up on PP1 together. Last season, the Blackhawks scored on 21.7 percent of power-play chances (11th in the league).
Jets at Ducks
This shapes up as the Jets' top line for now with Mark Scheifele (suspension) out of the lineup, and this crew is loaded with talent, as they combined for 54 goals last season. As stated earlier, the Ducks haven't changed much from last season, and they're rolling out a ton of youth on the blue line. The Jets can certainly capitalize on their weak points.
Adam Fox, NYR at WAS ($6,500): Fox piled up five goals and 42 assists across 55 games to win the Norris Trophy last season. He'll be a chalky play all season and can be worth it for cash games, but he'll likely be heavily-rostered, meaning tournaments aren't his best fit.
Seth Jones, CHI at COL ($6,200): Jones signed long term with the Blackhawks after posting 28 points – eight on the man advantage – over 56 games last season. He'll log major minutes on his team's top pairing, including time on PP1 with Kane and DeBrincat. Jones is worth stacking with the aforementioned Blackhawks stack to get a piece of their power-play production.
Neal Pionk, WPG at ANH ($4,800): Pionk is continuously underrated despite averaging 0.62 points per game over the last two seasons. Furthermore, he registered 35 power-play points in that stretch. The Ducks ranked 16th last season with a 79.9 penalty-kill percentage, so Pionk has a solid opportunity to deliver in the opener.
Evan Bouchard, EDM vs. VAN ($3,700): Bouchard landed on the bench last year because his defensive game left plenty to be desired, but he has plenty of upside when he's in the lineup. The 21-year-old can play on the power play, and he totaled 38 shots through 14 contests last season. He doesn't provide much in the way of blocked shots, though, so he's going to need to notch a point to be worth the price tag. Bouchard is listed at a cheap enough salary to roll the dice.