Matt Murray, PIT at NYR ($7,700) – After allowing 11 goals in his first two games, Murray has won three straight and allowed just five goals in those last three. The Rangers, on the hand, have lost three straight and have scored just four goals in three games. Henrik Lundqvist looks increasingly mortal, and the Penguins have the upper hand having won six of their past eight meetings.
Nicklas Backstrom, WAS vs. TOR ($6,500) – Either Backstrom or Evgeny Kuznetsov ($6,800) will do, but the idea is to have a Capital on your team when they face the Leafs, who have allowed 19 goals through five games. The Leafs are terrifying on offense, but because they are so aggressive and play at such a high pace, their turnovers can put them in pretty bad situations. A veteran Caps squad and Barry Trotz’s experience should be able to exploit a team that has committed 65 giveaways, which is fifth most in the league.
Aleksander Barkov, FLA at PHI ($5,900) – The Panthers have scored at least three goals in every game, but they have yet to see Barkov hit his stride. Barkov is too good to be kept off the score sheet and he’ll score a goal eventually, and a matchup against a young Flyers defense that doesn’t have an elite No. 1 anchor (yet) should give him plenty of chances. Despite notching just three assists in four games, the Panthers are sticking with Barkov on their top line, which shows how much confidence they have in the big Finn.
Nikita Kucherov, TB at DET ($7,300) – For $1,000 less than Alex Ovechkin you can get a player who can be just as effective, especially now that Ovechkin has come back down to earth and scored “just” two goals in four games. Meanwhile, Kucherov has scored a goal in five straight games and also serves as the primary trigger man on the Lightning’s potent power-play unit. Chances may not be easy to come by against the Red Wings, but Kucherov is an efficient shooter who doesn’t need a lot of chances to score.
William Nylander, TOR at WAS ($5,900) – His hands are simply amazing, and given the chemistry he’s shown with Auston Matthews, Nylander’s going to be a very good player for a very long time. The Caps will surely tighten up their defense after allowing eight goals against Philadelphia, but it might be difficult without Matt Niskanen, and the Leafs are near-impossible to keep off the board. Matthews is an excellent shooter, and Nylander often draws the assist because he’s the one who starts the play.
Brock Boeser, VAN at OTT ($3,900) – He scored his first NHL goal on a beautiful shot that beat Mike Smith cleanly, and unlike fellow teammate Jake Virtanen, Boeser’s already been given a big vote of confidence from head coach Travis Green with 17 minutes of ice time per game. The Senators are very stingy on offense, but at this price it’s worth gambling on Vancouver’s best shooter.
Ivan Provorov, PHI vs. FLA ($4,700) – The second-year pro leads all Flyers defensemen in minutes per game at 23:19 and doesn’t seem to suffer any symptoms of the mythical “sophomore slump” with three points in five games. He’s locked in as the quarterback on the second power-play unit, and he should see plenty of time with the man advantage against a Panthers team that can be undisciplined at times.
Brady Skjei, NYR vs. PIT ($3,300) – The strategy against the Pens will be to slow them down in the neutral zone and provide Lundqvist with as much support as possible, which is perfectly suited for Skjei’s game. He’s one of the few Rangers defensemen who can keep pace with the Pens’ speedy forwards, and he currently leads the team in blocked shots with 10 and tied with Kevin Shattenkirk among Rangers defensemen in shots with 16. Skjei’s ceiling may not be the most enticing, but his floor is a lot better than most.