Sunday's five-game evening NHL slate offers no shortage of high-quality hockey, with six of last season's playoff teams and two current division leaders set to take the ice. The Blackhawks and Wild stand out as strong stacking candidates against the Avalanche and Devils, respectively, but it's important not to forget the other teams in action when constructing your optimal DFS lineups. Regardless of their opponents, the players below are solid bets to outproduce their valuations.
Devan Dubnyk, MIN vs. NJ ($33) - Dubnyk is matched up against the second-worst offense in hockey, yet can still be had for just $33 despite his robust 17-11-4 record, 2.33 GAA and .920 save percentage. The fourth-cheapest goalie available makes for a tremendous play considering the only netminder facing a comparably weak offensive opponent (Petr Mrazek at Anaheim) is going for $6 more.
Goalie to Avoid
Corey Crawford, CHI vs. COL ($40) - The night's most expensive goaltender is unlikely to live up to his price, as Colorado has been making life very difficult for opposing netminders in recent games. The Avalanche have scored 13 times during their three-game winning streak, and they're unlikely to lay down offensively after tagging the Blackhawks for three goals in a losing effort on Dec. 31.
Leon Draisaitl, EDM vs. FLA ($17) - Draisaitl is slumping, but the corresponding drop in price suffered by the young center gives owners a chance to grab a point-per-game producer for a paltry $17. Edmonton's first-line pivot is still getting plenty of opportunities while seeing more than 20 minutes in each of his last seven appearances, and a player with Draisaitl's offensive talent can only be held down for so long.
Center to Avoid
Brad Richards, DET at ANH ($19) - The aging forward has clearly slowed this season, posting just 12 points through his first 28 appearances. Richards is overpriced at $19 in an average matchup, so paying that much for him against league GAA leader John Gibson is a massive mistake.
Jaromir Jagr, FLA at EDM ($21) - Jagr continues to defy father time. The 43-year-old winger has served as the catalyst for Florida's 10-game winning streak, posting a five-goal, four-assist and plus-9 line that would make any 23-year-old jealous. He hasn't shown any signs of slowing since coming into the league in 1990, so don't expect Jagr's pace to decline against the fourth-worst defensive team in the NHL.
Andrew Desjardins, CHI vs. COL ($14) - Desjardins' recent bump in production has coincided with increased ice time, and the veteran winger makes for a solid fantasy play as long as he keeps seeing north of 15 minutes per game. His season average in time on ice is still just 12:46, but Desjardins has four goals, one assist, a plus-5 rating and 17 shots on goal in his last six games while playing at least 15:18 in each. Keep riding him while he's hot, especially against opponents that the Blackhawks are projected to bury.
Wings to Avoid
Mark Stone, OTT at WAS ($16) - Some may view Stone as a bargain at $16, but his recent lack of production has thoroughly warranted a drop in price, as the winger's minus-5 rating in his last five games has been accompanied by no goals and just one assist. The first-place Capitals are exactly the team you don't want to face when you're trying to work your way out of a slump.
Kyle Palmieri, NJ at MIN ($19) - New Jersey's most expensive healthy winger has embodied the team's offensive struggles to open 2016, as he has just one point in four games to kick off the new year. Palmieri's paces in shots on goal and power-play points have also slowed, as he's been pointless on the man advantage since Dec. 22, and is only averaging two shots per game this year after taking exactly 2.5 per contest in the 2015 portion of the campaign.
Ryan Suter, MIN vs. NJ ($20) - Suter has long been known as one of the NHL's premier blueliners, but he is having arguably his best year in his 11th NHL season. He has five goals, 22 assists, and a plus-11 rating through 40 games, putting the defenseman on pace for career highs in all three categories. Suter has consistently proven himself to be an upper-echelon option, and $20 is a small price to pay for the consistent production he offers.
Tyson Barrie, COL at CHI ($24) - Barrie has been an offensive force in the last 10 games, scoring four goals and assisting on seven more while picking up seven power-play points and taking 22 shots. He has a minus-1 rating in that span despite that production, so being an underdog against the Blackhawks shouldn't phase Barrie or the fantasy owners relying on him to deliver value. Even if he's on the ice for a couple of goals against, the risk-taking blueliner should find a way to outweigh the defensive negatives with his contributions on the other end.
Defensemen to Avoid:
Brent Seabrook, CHI vs. COL ($20) - Seabrook has just one goal and seven assists in 19 games since the beginning of December after posting five goals and 14 assists through his first 24 appearances of the season. He simply isn't asked to do nearly as much offensively with a healthy Duncan Keith around, which makes it hard for the veteran blueliner to validate his $20 price night in and night out.
Aaron Ness, WAS vs. OTT ($15) - Ness has a pretty plain line through four games, with one assist, three shots, three blocks and a plus-one rating in less than 12:00 per game. Just because he's a fresh face doesn't mean the mediocre Ness is worth a $15 investment.
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