There are only three games on the NHL slate Sunday, the first set to go off at 5 p.m. Eastern. When the slate is small you should concentrate your funds on a few big guns and supplement those big guns with much lower priced picks where you can. Here are the players to target.
Casey DeSmith, PIT at WPG ($20): When the slate is small it is even more important to get the goalie right. DeSmith is the cheapest goalie at $20 and inexperienced, but when the likes of Mike Smith are going for $35 your choice has been made for you. The 26-year-old rookie has been excellent in three AHL starts this season (.098 GAA, .965 SV%). This will be his first NHL game for the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions. He is not going to miss his shot at locking down the backup role to Matt Murray, especially with uber-prospect Tristan Jarry looming over his shoulder.
Goalie to Avoid:
Philipp Grubauer, WSH at CGY ($23): Grubauer is perhaps one of the best backups in the NHL, but he has gotten off to a slow start with a 0-2-1 record, 4.99 GAA and .848 save percentage. So despite his talent, the slow start coupled with the back-end of a back-to-back makes Grubauer a risky start.
Evgeny Kuznetsov, WSH at CGY ($23): With or Without Nicklas Backstrom, Kuznetsov is on fire with 13 points in his last 10 games. In fact, his biggest challenge is not the Flames, but breaking in a new linemate in Devante Smith-Pelly. Of course, when your other linemate is Alexander Ovechkin, you line is more often than not in for a good night.
Center to Avoid:
Ryan Getzlaf, ANA vs. CGY ($24): Getzlaf has looked himself since coming back from an early season injury and chemistry is still a strong suit with linemates Corey Perry and Richard Rakell. Getzlaf, however, is not shooting much this year with only seven shots in five games. That coupled with a wonky back and two games in a row makes for a risky play.
Bryan Rust, PIT at WPG ($14): An under-appreciated member of Pittsburgh's second line, Rust is off to a flying start. Skating with the likes of Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel has done wonders for his play with nine points in 11 games. He is also a part of Pittsburgh's second power-play unit.
Phil Kessel, PIT at WPG ($25): Kessel has picked right up where he left off in the Stanley Cup Finals with seven points in last his last five games. Kessel is always a strong play against a shaky defensive team such as Winnipeg.
Wings to Avoid:
T.J. Oshie, WSH at CGY ($20): Without a healthy Backstrom in the mix, Oshie is struggling to find his right footing offensively. He has just one goal in his last five games, with a minus-4 rating.
Alex Ovechkin, WSH at CGY ($34): As explosive as Ovechkin is with Backstrom in the lineup, things change when a healthy Backstrom is not on the ice, as Washington's attack is much more effective when Ovechkin anchors the second line. Ovie has just one goal in his last five games and a minus-8 rating.
Christian Djoos ($12), John Carlson, WSH at CGY ($21): Carlson and Djoos are Washington's first line of defense and have shown great chemistry already. Djoos has three points in seven games and a 0 rating. Carlson has been hot with six points in his last nine games. The icing on the cake is that they both see significant power play time as well.
Defenseman to Avoid:
Joshua Morrissey ($15), Jacob Trouba PIT at WPG ($18): The Jets' second rearguard unit is off to a slow start. Trouba three points in nine games and a minu-6 rating while Morrissey also has three points in nine games but is minus-4. Although Trouba sees time on the Jets' second power-play unit. Morrissey's playing time has been decreasing weekly. Morrissey and Trouba are the types of young defensemen that elite offensive teams like Pittsburgh tend to shred.