DraftKings NHL: Thursday Breakdown

DraftKings NHL: Thursday Breakdown

This article is part of our DraftKings NHL series.

The first week of the NHL season continues Thursday with the league's largest slate to date, as nine games are on the schedule starting at 7:00 p.m. EDT. Below, you'll find a breakdown of the action and suggested options for crafting an effective lineup.

SLATE PREVIEW

Despite opening their season with a 6-2 loss to Pittsburgh, the Lightning are this slate's largest favorites on the road against the (still) rebuilding Red Wings. Penguins-Panthers, in which Florida's a solid favorite, has the night's highest over/under at 6.5 goals, while every other matchup checks in at either 5.5 or 6.0. While this is the largest slate to date, it's still advisable to cluster some sets of teammates together when forming your lineup. Besides the two Florida teams, potential options for going that route include the Maple Leafs (in Ottawa), Canadiens (in Buffalo) and Golden Knights (in Los Angeles).

GOALIES

Andrei Vasilevskiy, TB at DET ($8,400): Of the six goals Pittsburgh scored to beat the Lightning on Opening Night, only three beat Vasilevskiy (the last three were empty-netters), and even that's a lot by his lofty standards. A cushy bounce-back opportunity awaits against a Red Wings team that's had a bottom-two offense two years running, and you shouldn't forgo the opportunity to use Vasilevskiy here just because he may have burned you Tuesday in a much tougher matchup.

Elvis Merzlikins, CLS vs. ARI ($7,800): If you haven't paid attention in the offseason, you may have missed some of the moves made by these two teams, both of which enter the season with significantly different rosters from a year ago. While Columbus' largest changes — exchanging Cam Atkinson for fellow top-six winger Jakub Voracek and trading Seth Jones for Adam Boqvist and a bevy of draft picks — probably work out to a short-term net negative, Arizona underwent a thorough fire sale and is expected to turn into Buffalo or Detroit West. Considering the Coyotes already had a bottom-10 offense before the offseason sell off, they figure to be among the most favorable matchups for goalies all season, and Merzlikins is lucky enough to be the first guy to benefit.

Ilya Sorokin, NYI at CAR ($7,700): This is expected to be a tight-checking contest, but Carolina loves to fling the puck on net and see what happens, as the Hurricanes were one of five teams to average 32-plus shots on goal last season. Add those two factors up, and you have the formula for a lofty save total in a low-scoring game for Sorokin, who's expected to get the nod in net with Semyon Varlamov sidelined to start the season. Sorokin's coming off a stellar rookie campaign in which he went 13-6-3 with a 2.17 GAA and .918 save percentage.

Anton Forsberg, OTT vs. TOR ($7,100): If you're feeling nonconformist or want to maximize the salary you have available for skaters, how about locking in Ottawa's netminder against a Toronto team that's on the road for its second game in as many nights following an emotional season opener against the rival Canadiens? If Ottawa calls up and starts promising youngster Filip Gustavsson ($6,500), you'd really have something cooking here, but Forsberg's an adequate replacement for Matt Murray (illness), and the Swede had a 38-save performance against Toronto in his Senators debut last season. Plus, remember the Maple Leafs remain without Auston Matthews (wrist).

VALUE PLAYS/ONE-OFFS

Jake Guentzel, PIT at FLA ($6,800): Guentzel missed the season opener due to a lack of practice time while in COVID-19 protocols, but he should be ready to carry the Penguins as soon as he steps onto the ice. He has a history of stepping up when called upon to be the team's go-to guy, with a 13-18-31 line and plus-12 rating in 26 career games without Sidney Crosby, who's currently sidelined by a wrist injury. Just don't forget to ensure Guentzel is indeed playing if you choose to utilize him.

Roope Hintz, DAL at NYR ($6,300): Hintz quietly had an outstanding breakout season last year, posting a 15-28-43 line in 41 games while playing through a nagging groin injury. After addressing the groin injury via offseason surgery, Hintz is ready to take his game to new heights. He'll look to get off to a strong start in Dallas' season opener against a Rangers team that's playing its second game in as many nights, and Hintz's $6,300 valuation will likely start to climb before long if he maintains last year's success, let alone starts building on it.

William Nylander, TOR at OTT ($5,600): Nylander potted the game-winning goal Wednesday against Montreal, giving him a 5-12-17 line in his last 15 regular-season games and a 10-15-25 line over his last 22 appearances including the playoffs. Despite all that success, Nylander's still priced at least $2,000 cheaper than teammates Mitch Marner ($7,700) and John Tavares ($7,600) for this favorable matchup against a Senators team that tied for fourth-worst defensively last season with 3.38 goals allowed per game. It's possible Nylander's no worse than either of those guys at this point, so lock him in before everyone else realizes that.

Jonathan Drouin, MON at BUF ($3,500): Drouin took some time away from the team to get back into the right headspace last year, but the talented winger looks to have returned to top form based on his Opening Night performance. In addition to scoring the Canadiens' lone goal in the 2-1 loss to Toronto, Drouin also led the team in power-play ice time with 3:41. Still just 26 years of age, the two-time 50-point scorer should capitalize on his prominent usage against a Sabres team that's coming off a last-place finish in the standings.

FORWARD LINE STACKS

Golden Knights at Kings

Chandler Stephenson (C - $5,900), Max Pacioretty (W - $7,800), Mark Stone (W - $6,600)

This trio came out of the gates blazing Tuesday, combining for a 3-5-8 line in a 4-3 Opening Night win over the Kraken. Pacioretty led the way with two goals, an assist and eight shots, picking up right where he left off with last season's 24-27-51 line in 48 games. Stone also finds himself in familiar territory north of a point-per-game pace, kicking the season off with a three-assist effort after totaling 61 points in 55 appearances last season. Stephenson broke out with a 14-21-35 line last year and chipped in a goal and an assist against Seattle. This familiar trio doesn't have to waste time building chemistry and should keep rolling against a Kings team that's hoping to turn the corner this year but was one of seven teams that failed to reach 50 points last season.

Panthers vs. Penguins 

Sam Bennett (C - $4,200), Jonathan Huberdeau (W - $5,300), Owen Tippett ($3,300)

The enormous difference in valuation between this line and Florida's top line of Aleksander Barkov ($7,400), Carter Verhaeghe ($6,400) and Sam Reinhart ($6,200) isn't justified by their much smaller gap in production. The $7,200 you save by stacking this trio is almost enough to just add Barkov on top if you're high on the Panthers in what should be a high-scoring battle. Bennett was arguably the best player on the team after coming over from Calgary at the trade deadline last year, posting a 6-9-15 line in 10 games, while Huberdeau (20-41-61) narrowly edged out Barkov (26-32-58) for the team points lead. Tippett has just 52 games of NHL experience under his belt, but the Panthers believe the top-10 pick from the 2017 draft is ready to stick in the top six at age 22.

Lightning at Red Wings

Anthony Cirelli (C - $3,900), Steven Stamkos (W - $5,700), Alex Killorn (W - $4,600)

Much like with the Panthers, Tampa Bay's second line may well offer superior bang for the buck given the top line's exorbitant valuation. That was certainly the case Opening Night, when Cirelli notched a goal and an assist, Stamkos dished two helpers and Killorn lit the lamp while the top-line trio posted a goose egg. Stamkos is a four-time 90-point scorer while reached that mark as recently as 2018-19, Killorn has 42 goals in 125 games since the start of the 2019-20 campaign, and Cirelli's one of the game's top two-way centers at just 24 years of age. With the top line preoccupying Detroit's top defensemen, this trio should thrive against a Red Wings team that won only 19 of 56 games last season.

DEFENSEMEN

Victor Hedman, TB at DET ($6,900): Hedman was one of four Lightning players to pick up a point Opening Night, and he's showing no signs of slowing down after posting a 9-36-45 line in 54 games last season. That output was par for the course for Hedman, who finished third in the league in points among defensemen. Don't expect the overmatched Red Wings to slow him down.

Jakob Chychrun, ARI at CLS ($6,200): Chychrun is one of the few remaining building blocks left on the Coyotes, and he has the skills to thrive despite their tear down, especially against what's expected to a fellow non-playoff team. The 23-year-old blueliner led all defensemen with 18 goals last season, and he was on fire down the stretch, with a 9-10-19 line over the final 19 games. Look for Chychrun to carry over his strong finish and get off to a hot start this year as the new face of the franchise.

Rasmus Sandin, TOR at OTT ($4,100): Sandin notched a power-play helper Wednesday against Montreal, and Toronto's first-round selection in the 2018 draft could find himself marking the scoresheet frequently given his offensive aptitude and usage with the extra man. The Swede had 15 points in 21 AHL games last season and four more in nine games with the Maple Leafs. Sandin's low-mid tier price point makes him an enticing value option against a Senators team that surrendered 3.38 goals per game last season. 

Dante Fabbro, NSH vs. SEA ($2,800): Part of Nashville's rationale for shipping Ryan Ellis off to Philadelphia in the offseason is that Fabbro's development should help offset some of the production vacated by Ellis' departure. Drafted in the first round back in 2016, Fabbro totaled 12 points in 40 games last season, matching his point total from 68 career NHL games coming into that campaign. With a boost in power-play usage coupled with natural development, Fabbro's expected to make a leap offensively at age 23. If he does, Fabbro won't carry a sub-$3,000 valuation for long.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Sasha Yodashkin plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: Youngsash, DraftKings: Yashdogg,Yahoo: Sasha, Fanball: Yashdogg.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sasha Yodashkin
Sasha has been contributing NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and Tennis content to RotoWire since 2015, with an emphasis on DFS. He is a huge New York sports fan who has been playing fantasy sports since middle school.
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