This article is part of our DraftKings NHL series.
It feels like the NHL season to this point has merely been an appetizer. Saturday is the main course. There are 14 games taking place, although two of those games start before the 7:00 p.m. EDT hour, so they are not being included for the purposes of my DFS recommendations. We're still early in the season and can't take much away from the action so far, but we are already seeing some interesting things.
Like I said, there are 12 games taking place in the hours of the traditional evening slate for the NHL. This includes three teams that will be on the road for the second leg of a back-to-back. Minnesota only had to travel from Anaheim to Los Angeles, but Chicago played New Jersey on Friday and face (shorthanded) Pittsburgh on Saturday, while Vancouver had to travel from Philadelphia all the way to Detroit to face off with early Rocket Richard favorite Tyler Bertuzzi. Hey, I'm a Wings fan. Let me have this for a moment.
Connor Hellebuyck, WPG at SAN ($7,600): Hellebuyck started the season off on the wrong foot, but I'm not sweating it. The American's career save percentage is .917 and he had a 2.58 GAA last year and a 2.57 GAA the season prior. San Jose finished 25th in goals per game last season, and it didn't make any roster improvements this offseason. Plus, right now Evander Kane's status is up in the air.
Elvis Merzlikins, CLM vs. SEA ($7,500): Merzlikins has proven himself a legitimate number-one goalie in the NHL. His career save percentage is .920, and he just made 36 saves on 38 shots to open the campaign with a win. So far, the Kraken have not looked bad offensively. However, this is still an expansion team, and it will be playing its third road game in as many contests. That has to start getting a little rough for a squad.
Cal Petersen, LOS vs. MIN ($7,300): The Wild finished ninth in goals scored last season, but they only put 28.3 shots on net per contest. They probably got a bit lucky. Petersen made 23 saves on 25 shots in a season-opening win, and his career save percentage is .916. Also, like I mentioned, the Wild are on the second day of a back-to-back.
William Nylander, TOR vs. OTT ($6,200): Nylander has been firing on all cylinders out of the gate. He's tallied three points already, and also 11 shots on goal. Matt Murray may return from his illness for this game to start for the Senators, but that should only entice you further. The former Penguin had a 3.38 GAA and .893 save percentage last season.
Jakub Voracek, CLM vs. SEA ($5,800): Voracek is back with the Blue Jackets after many years in Philadelphia, and he's already slated onto their top line and top power-play unit. He's also still a playmaker, as he began his second stint in Columbus with two assists. The Kraken have a good goalie in Philipp Grubauer, but he's faced 30 shots in both games so far. Seattle isn't likely to be a stingy defense based on its roster.
Tyler Bertuzzi, DET vs. VAN ($5,500): No, this isn't me buying into Bertuzzi scoring four goals in Detroit's season opener. He converted all four shots he put on net. While the 26-year-old only played in nine games last year, two seasons ago he had 48 points, including 14 with the extra man. The Canucks will presumably be starting Jaroslav Halak in this game, and while he's been good in the past he's 36 now and had a .905 save percentage last year.
Jeff Carter, PIT vs. CHI ($5,400): As long as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are out, Carter's got himself an outsized role for the Penguins. We're talking centering the top line, and he's averaged 21:01 per game in ice time. Ride this while you can, especially against a team on the second leg of a back-to-back.
LINE STACKS TO CONSIDER
Kings vs. Wild
Kopitar just never slows down. Last year he had 50 points in only 56 games, including 23 with the extra man. This year he racked up a hat trick and two assists to begin the new campaign. Maybe he's happy to have Arvidsson on his wing now. Last year was rough for the former Predator, but he had a 6.6 shooting percentage. He has two 30-goal seasons to his name. Brown had a bit of a bounce back last year with 17 goals in 47 games, including nine on the power play. He didn't even get a chance to do much with the extra man in the opener, but still notched two points. As I mentioned, the Wild are on the road for the second leg of a back-to-back, and their goalie situation is not ideal. Cam Talbot has been away with a personal issue, and Kaapo Kahkonen had a .902 save percentage last year.
Jets at Sharks
The Sharks don't have a reputation for defensive stoutness. San Jose had a 3.50 GAA last season. Its new starting goalie is James Reimer, who has a .909 save percentage over the last four years. Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic are all getting up there in years. I could see the Sharks having the worst defense in the NHL this season.
Given that, I decided to grab Winnipeg's second line to save a little salary. Stastny has 29 points in 56 games last year, including eight on the power play. He has more talent on his line this year, though. Getting to start the season with the Jets will hopefully help Dubois. This is a guy who had 61 points in his age-20 season, which is a reminder of his talent. Ehlers didn't notch a point in the opener, but he put eight shots on net. That's not surprising. In his last full campaign he had 203 shots on goal in 71 games.
Neal Pionk, WPG at SAN ($4,800): I talked extensively about the Sharks' questions in net and on defense in the stack section, so it is probably not a surprise I've thrown a Jets defenseman in here as well. Pionk's top still? Manning the point on the power play. He's tallied 35 power-play points in 126 games since joining the Jets.
Tony DeAngelo, CAR at NAS ($4,200): DeAngelo is a legitimate weapon on the power play. He is already planted on Carolina's top power-play unit to replace Dougie Hamilton and he played 5:27 with the extra man in the opener, tallying two assists in the process. The Predators ranked 29th on the penalty kill last year, so this matchup could bode well.
Moritz Seider, DET vs. VAN ($3,700): Wings fans weren't the only ones excited to see Seider make his NHL debut. He came into this season considered one of the best prospects out there. So far, so good. The German played 20:21 in Detroit's opener and picked up two assists. I'm already a believer after seeing him play once. Additionally, I believe in a team at home against an opponent on the second leg of a back-to-back. Especially a team that allowed 33.4 shots on net per contest last season.
John Marino, PIT vs. CHI ($3,000): In his third NHL season, Marino seems in line for a larger role. He's averaged 22:29 in ice time so far, and 2:43 with the extra man. Marino also has an assist in both games this season. The Blackhawks really revamped this offseason, but they are on the road for the second game of a back-to-back. Even though they saved Marc-Andre Fleury for a matchup with his old team, I still like Marino at his salary.