This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Hockey series.
The NBA season begins Tuesday, but the NHL isn't sweating it. There are 11 games on the schedule. Plus, a bit of history is being made, as the Kraken are playing on the second leg of a back-to-back for the first time. Sure, it's banal history, but it's history! Here are some players to target, and to avoid, for your DFS lineups.
Mike Smith, EDM vs. ANA ($32): What's better than getting to face the team that finished last in goals and shots on net per game last season? Getting to face them when they are on the road for the second leg of a back-to-back. That's where Smith and the Oilers are Tuesday. I was skeptical about the veteran goalie after he had a 2.31 GAA and .923 save percentage last season, but so far he's been locked in to start this year.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Darcy Kuemper, COL at WAS ($32): Moving from Arizona to Colorado was nice for Kuemper, but it isn't panning out thus far. It's only two games, of course, but he has a 3.10 GAA and .902 save percentage. The Avalanche aren't playing the lockdown defense they did last year, and the Capitals scored 3.36 goals per contest last season.
Elias Pettersson, VAN at BUF ($20): Pettersson is staying quite active this season. Not only has he averaged over 23 minutes in ice time, he's put 13 shots on net in three games. Once his 7.7 percent shooting regresses towards his career mark of 17.3 percent, he's going to be just fine. Meanwhile, the Sabres had a 3.50 GAA last season and Craig Anderson is now their top goalie.
CENTER TO AVOID
Aleksander Barkov, FLA at TAM ($32): Barkov has started about as expected through two games. Andrei Vasilevskiy? Not so much, but I have zero worries. He is a Vezina and Conn Smythe winner, and over the previous five seasons he has a .921 save percentage. The Russian just made 32 saves on 33 shots in a road win over the Capitals. Maybe he's already righting the ship.
Cole Caufield, MON vs. SAN ($18): Caufield barely played in the regular season last year, but in the playoffs he showed off the goal-scoring acumen that has been his calling card since he was in juniors. He doesn't have a goal yet this year, but he's put nine shots on net in three games and the goals will come. Perhaps the first one will come against the Sharks, who had a 3.50 GAA last season.
Yegor Sharangovich, NJD vs. SEA ($18): Sharangovich was a pleasant surprise in his rookie season for the Devils. Last year he notched 16 goals and 14 assists in 54 games. I expect a bigger role for the 23-year-old, and he's skating on a line with Jack Hughes, who could also experience a real leap in production. Also, like I mentioned earlier, the Kraken will be playing their first-ever back-to-back, and they have been on the road all season. That can wear on a team.
WINGS TO AVOID
Alex DeBrincat, CHI vs. NYI ($25): DeBrincat's 32 goals in 52 games last season was incredible. It was also probably unsustainable, as it came on 20.6 percent shooting. The Islanders have been bad defensively to start the year, but I don't expect that to continue for a Barry Trotz team. Just last year New York had a 2.23 GAA and only allowed 28.4 shots on goal per contest.
Dustin Brown, LOS at NAS ($16): Brown showed he was still a capable contributor last year when he notched 17 goals in 49 games. Of course, he's also 36 now, which means he is well past his peak as a player. Juuse Saros is the clear top guy in net for the Predators now, having earned that spot by posting a 2.28 GAA and .927 save percentage last year. In fact, in his career he has a .920 save percentage across 157 games. That's really impressive!
Darnell Nurse, EDM vs. ANA ($22): Even though he doesn't play a ton on the power play, Nurse contributes plenty offensively to the Oilers. He had 16 goals and 36 points last season, his third season in a row with at least 33 points. This year he has an assist in both games for Edmonton. The Ducks, who are on the second leg of a back-to-back, have a goaltending tandem consisting of a banged-up John Gibson and Anthony Stolarz, who has played in only 10 NHL games the last three seasons.
Rasmus Dahlin, BUF vs. VAN ($13): Dahlin is still only 21. It's important to remember that. Last year was a disaster in many ways, but he had at least 40 points in each of his first two seasons. Even last year he had 23 in 56 games. The Canucks allowed 33.4 shots on net per game last year. Thatcher Demko has been a pretty good goalie in the NHL, but he has a career 2.93 GAA in part because of all the shots he's faced in Vancouver.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Kris Letang, PIT vs. DAL ($22): Even without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Letang has been able to rack up four assists in three games. That being said, without his two top offensive partners around – especially on the power play – his upside is lower than usual. And yet, his salary isn't any lower than usual. The Stars had a 2.64 GAA and only allowed 27.1 shots on net per game last year. Dallas' defense is so good that even Braden Holtby has a 2.26 GAA through two starts!
Aaron Ekblad, FLA at TAM ($21): Ekblad is fortunately healthy and back on the ice, and he's played over 25 minutes a night so far, so he seems just fine. All that ice time likely won't benefit him too much against the Lightning, though. Vasilevskiy had a .925 save percentage last season and has never had a save percentage below .917 in a full campaign.