Andrei Vasilevskiy, TB at CLS ($7,300) – After a rocky start, Vasilevskiy has won four straight games, and his unsightly 3.00 GAA will continue to creep lower at this pace. He’s a big reason why the Lightning are 5-1-1. The Blue Jackets are 5-1-0 and have scored five goals in two consecutive games, but they’ve also had a pretty soft schedule to start the season and lost 5-1 to Chicago in their only matchup against a Cup contender.
Brayden Schenn, STL at COL ($6,000) – There’s nothing particularly exciting about Schenn’s stat line — four assists and six points in six games — but what’s special about Schenn is that he can consistently fill the stat sheet in other areas. He hits and blocks shots, two rarities for top-six forwards, and as a full-time center, he also plays in a lot of situations. The Avs don’t have a center that can quite match Schenn’s physicality, which might make him difficult to contain.
Nico Hischier, NJ at OTT ($4,300) – His slow start was overshadowed by a Devils squad that continues to overachieve, but at least Hischier’s starting to get in on the action too with three assists in his past two games. It might’ve taken a little time for Hischer to get comfortable — not everyone can be Auston Matthews, after all — but it’s encouraging that his ice time is spiking and the Devils continue to play him at center even though he loses most of his faceoffs.
Nikita Kucherov, TB at CLS ($7,500) – He’s going to be a popular pick, but there’s nothing wrong with going with the hot hand. Kucherov’s scored a goal in each of the first seven games of the season, and his past performance should silence any and all doubters. The Jackets defense continues to be a bit spotty at times, and even an elite goalie like Sergei Bobrovsky will find it tough to shut them out.
Artemi Panarin, CLS vs. TB ($6,500) – After Panarin was moved to Columbus, the general feeling was that his numbers would dip because Patrick Kane was no longer his linemate, but with eight points in six games he’s shown the ability to carry an offense by himself. The Lightning are good, but defense and goaltending aren’t really their strengths.
Pavel Buchnevich, NYR vs. NYI ($4,500) – Alain Vigneault is a matchup mastermind, so is it any surprise that all four of Buchnevich’s points have come on home ice where the Rangers have last change? Vigneault knows how to get the most out of his offensive players, and the 22-year-old Buchnevich is still at the stage where he needs to be sheltered to succeed. If Vigneault can hide him from Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk, Buchnevich should have no problem beating the Isles’ pedestrian goaltending.
Erik Karlsson, OTT vs. NJ ($6,700) – He didn’t look great against Vancouver, but he was still better than everyone else. Karlsson played just 22 minutes in his season debut, which is a very light workload for someone who’s accustomed to skating over 26 minutes a night, so expect him to play more in his second game. The Devils won’t exactly be easy to score on, but there isn’t a team that can keep Karlsson off the scoresheet. He’s scored 18 points in 22 career games against the Devils.
Jaccob Slavin, CAR at CGY ($3,700) – It’s tough to get a read on Carolina because they’ve only played four games when many others have already played seven, but Slavin’s averaging 25 minutes per game and just scored his first two points of the season against Edmonton. He’ll get a chance to build on that performance against Calgary.