FanDuel NHL: Thursday Targets

FanDuel NHL: Thursday Targets

This article is part of our FanDuel NHL series.

SLATE PREVIEW

It's a busy night with nine games on the slate, with the Canadiens, Maple Leafs and Rangers playing the second half of their back-to-backs to open the season. It's interesting that two games with the highest over/under at 6.5 — Penguins at Panthers and Leafs at Senators — feature teams that do not have their marquee players, and the Pens limited the defending champion Lightning to just two goals on Tuesday.

GOALIES

Andrei Vasilevskiy, TB at DET ($8,900): Vasilevskiy went 4-0-0 with a 1.49 GAA and .935 save percentage against the Wings last season and gets a do-over after a mediocre performance following the Lightning's banner-raising ceremony. The Wings will not have Jakub Vrana (shoulder) in the lineup, depriving them of one of their best offensive players.

Petr Mrazek, TOR at OTT ($8,500): The Leafs had to work really hard to grind out a 2-1 win against the Habs on Wednesday, but that's a very good sign because it means they can win the tough, low-scoring games. They couldn't do that in the playoffs last season, and now they have a slightly easier task facing a very young Sens team. They're fast and talented, but Brady Tkachuk, who was just signed earlier today and one of the best players around the net, may not be in the lineup. Mrazek is 7-1-2 with a .920 save percentage and 2.44 GAA in his career against the Sens.

Juuse Saros, NSH vs. SEA ($7,800): Saros was brilliant in the later stages of the season, going 16-6-1 down the stretch and the hope is that he can continue his strong play. He enters the season as the Preds' undisputed No. 1 now that Pekka Rinne has retired, and he's facing a Kraken offense that looked fast but wasn't quite at the Knights' level in their season opener. Goal support may be difficult for Saros, but the Kraken may start Chris Driedger, who had a .773 save percentage  during the preseason.

Samuel Montembeault, MON at BUF ($7,500): Jake Allen started and lost Wednesday night, so Montembeault will likely get the start in the second half of a back-to-back. The Habs looked sharp, opening the scoring seven minutes into the first period and despite the loss, managed to outshoot the Leafs, 32-30. They'll be facing a much weaker team in Buffalo, and hold the advantage in almost all areas.

Elvis Merzlikins, CBJ vs. ARI ($7,300): Don't sleep on the Blue Jackets — many teams have, and they all paid a price. As much talent as they've lost over the seasons, the Jackets still have plenty of solid players, and top prospect Cole Sillinger will be in the lineup for added scoring punch. The Coyotes ranked 23rd in GF/GP last season and traded Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Christian Dvorak and Conor Garland in the offseason.  

VALUE PLAYS

Jonathan Drouin, MON at BUF ($3,400): Drouin's line with Josh Anderson and top shutdown center Christian Dvorak were the first to get on the board for the Habs in their season opener, and received nearly as much playing time as Nick Suzuki's line. It looks like they'll be operating with essentially two equal scoring lines. Drouin finished the night with a goal and two assists and led all Habs forwards in power-play ice time.

Casey Mittelstadt, BUF vs. MON ($3,600): Mittelstadt was impressive down the stretch last season, scoring 16 points in 21 games and proving his worth as a top-10 pick. He will open the season as the Sabres' top center with Jeff Skinner and Vinnie Hinostroza on his wings, both players who have proven they can score goals even though they've been hard to come by lately.

Jeff Carter, PIT at FLA ($5,300): We're going back to the well again after Carter managed to score an assist in the opener as the No. 1 center. This could be a potentially high-scoring game with Sergei Bobrovsky starting for the Panthers, and Carter may also get Jake Guentzel back, who took part in Wednesday's practice.  

Anton Lundell, FLA vs. PIT ($4,000): Lundell's like Barkov lite, a Finnish center who plays well at both ends of the ice. He will open the season as their third-line center, but the Panthers have enough depth to afford him Patric Hornqvist and Frank Vatrano on his wings, who combined to score 32 goals last season. The Pens' depth at center is shallow without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Tim Stuetzle, OTT vs. TOR ($5,200): Tkachuk just signed on Thursday, so if he doesn't play, Stuetzle gets the first-line job with Josh Norris and Drake Batherson. That's a very skilled line, with Norris and Batherson both tied for second on the team with 17 goals last season. They will certainly draw the Leafs' top pair but Stuetzle definitely isn't intimidated; he scored seven points in nine games against them last season.

Jared McCann, SEA at NSH ($4,000): McCann was really good as the Kraken's top center, scoring a goal and led all centers in ice time. The Kraken displayed some impressive team speed and held their own against Vegas, one of the best teams in the league. With their deep forward lineup and the pace they play at, the Kraken could be a decent offensive team and McCann will spearhead their attack.

Alex Texier, CBJ vs. ARI ($3,900): Texier could be the best value play of the night, centering the top line between Patrik Laine and Jakub Voracek, who combined for 12 points in the preseason. The sparkplug center doesn't have a lot of natural offensive skill, but he may not need it against the lowly Coyotes.

Lucas Raymond, DET vs. TB ($3,300): Vrana's injury means Raymond moves up to the top line with Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi. Raymond is an elite offensive player and his speed is a good match for the equally speedy Larkin. The Lightning looked overwhelmed against the Pens, and if they take their opponents lightly again, it's the Red Wings' top line who will do most of the damage.

Cole Sillinger, CBJ vs. ARI ($3,000): He will center the third line with captain Boone Jenner and Max Domi. Playing Domi at center didn't work out, but he's still a very good playmaker and hopefully he can make something happen with Sillinger.

Vladimir Tkachev, LA vs. VGK ($3,000): The 26-year-old NHL rookie was an eight-year pro in the KHL, and he opens the season on an interesting line with top prospects Gabriel Vilardi and Arthur Kaliyev. Vilardi scored 23 points last season and Kaliyev led their farm team in scoring with 31 points in 40 games. Tkachev will also start the season on the top power-play unit.

LINE STACKS

Panthers vs. Penguins

Aleksander Barkov (C - $7,600), Carter Verhaeghe (W - $4,900), Sam Reinhart (W - $6,700)

Barkov is the best player on the ice at all times in a matchup against the Pens, and Reinhart has been a very productive playmaker with 90 points over the past two seasons. Verhaeghe is a nice value play for a player who scored 36 points last season.

Predators vs. Kraken

Ryan Johansen (C - $3,700), Filip Forsberg (W - $6,100), Matt Duchene (W - $3,600)

With a combined cap hit of $22 million, it would be bad if they weren't the top line. Jokes and seasons of disappointing production aside, the trio have looked quite good during the preseason. Neither Johansen nor Duchene were playable last season no matter how low their salaries were, but this is definitely a value stack with intriguing upside.

Golden Knights vs. Kings

Chandler Stephenson ($4,900), Mark Stone ($7,500), Max Pacioretty ($8,000)

Stone and Pacioretty both scored three points against the Kraken and even managed to get Stephenson a goal by throwing a puck into his skates. They're one of the best lines in the league, and Stephenson keeps the cost relatively low.

DEFENSEMEN

Adam Fox, NYR vs. DAL ($6,500): The reigning Norris winner picked up where he left off last season, skating 23 minutes and finished with an assist and four shots on goal. His ability to get shots through is truly unmatched, and he'll be a consistent source of offense all season.

Roman Josi, NSH vs. SEA ($6,000): This feels like a bargain for a former Norris winner who's coming off only a slightly disappointing season. His 33 points in 48 games led the team in scoring for the second straight season. The Kraken looked like a mobile team but defensively they weren't very sharp, allowing numerous chances to the Knights, who ended up scoring four goals but could've had at least two or three more if not for hitting the posts.

Jakob Chychrun, ARI at CBJ ($4,900): Chychrun will be looking to build on last year's impressive season where he scored 18 goals and finished 10th in Norris voting. This is potentially a good value play for a defenseman who will log a ton of minutes and is very good at shooting the puck. He ranked second with 176 shots last season, trailing only Dougie Hamilton's 180.  

Ryan Suter, DAL at NYR ($4,300): Suter will open the season on the top pairing with John Klingberg. Suter's a consistent shot blocker and perhaps throwing all the pucks to Klingberg might allow him to pick up an assist or two. The Stars plan on spreading out their talent on the power play, with Suter playing on a unit with Miro Heiskanen, Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn.

Moritz Seider, DET vs. TB ($4,000): Detroit's prized defenseman will start on a pair with veteran Nick Leddy, which will likely be their preferred duo at even strength and against the opposition's best lines. That means a lot of chances to block shots, and Seider will also play on a good power-play unit with Filip Hronek, Robby Fabbri, Filip Zadina and Pius Suter 

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.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Chen
Jason won the 2021 FSWA Hockey Writer of the Year award, and was also a finalist on 2019. He joined RotoWire in 2013. Jason has also written for Yahoo Sports, CBS Sports, The Hockey News, The Hockey Hall of Fame's Legends Magazine, and Centre Ice Magazine.
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