Thursday's NHL slate is a busy one, with 10 games on tap beginning at 7:00 PM Eastern time. Here are some players to target and avoid when assembling your lineupů
Cam Talbot, EDM vs. STL ($25): Talbot's won consecutive starts since returning from an undisclosed injury, giving him victories in five straight appearances. The Oilers have started to return to the form that got them to the Western Conference semifinals last season, and they're catching St. Louis at the right time with the Blues playing the second leg of a road back-to-back. There's no way Talbot will remain this affordable for much longer, so take advantage of this bargain while you still can.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Cory Schneider, NJ vs. NYR ($30): This looks like good bang for the buck on Schneider coming off wins in five of his past seven starts, but the downside here is too great even at just $30. The Rangers rank seventh with 3.26 goals per game, and New York's 16-5-1 since a 3-7-2 start.
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Ryan Getzlaf, ANH at NYI ($19): Getzlaf failed to get on the scoresheet in his first game back from a facial injury, but he's accumulated a four-game point streak since. Considering the veteran center has 304 points in 316 games since the start of the 2013-14 campaign and scoring's up across the league this year, he can be expected to maintain point-per-game production the rest of the way. A producer of that caliber should be worth way more than $19 against a pitiful Islanders defense that's allowing a league-high 3.50 goals per game.
CENTER TO AVOID
Mika Zibanejad, NYR at NJ ($20): Zibanejad returned from a three-week, concussion-related absence Tuesday, but managed just one shot in 13:32 of ice time as coach Alain Vigneault wisely eased him back in. The center's $20 price reflects his abilities given a full workload, so it's not wise to pay that much for Zibanejad until he's proven to be back at 100 percent. Additionally, New Jersey's ninth-ranked penalty kill presents some matchup problems for a player that's scored half of his points this season on the power play.
Kevin Fiala, NSH vs. CAR ($18): Fiala's starting to show the skill that prompted Nashville to draft him 11th overall in 2014, as he's lit the lamp in seven of his past eight games and comes into this one riding an eight-game point streak. The Czech forward's skill has been especially apparent on the power play, with nine of his 25 points this season coming in extra-man situations. A Carolina penalty kill that ranks third-worst at 75.6 percent should give Fiala plenty of chances to maintain his recent momentum.
Carl Hagelin, PIT vs. CLS ($10): This pick is all about opportunity, and the minimum-priced Hagelin has that in spades skating on a line with Patric Hornqvist and Evgeni Malkin. The speedy winger's also facing Columbus at the perfect time, as the Blue Jackets are playing the second leg of a back-to-back while normally outstanding goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has been in a rut with 18 goals allowed in his past four starts and 29 allowed in his past eight.
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WINGS TO AVOID
Blake Wheeler, WPG at BOS ($28): Wheeler recorded a multi-point effort Tuesday in Nashville thanks to an empty-net goal, but he still has just two goals and 15 points in 19 road games compared to seven goals and 26 points in 16 appearances at home. Don't expect his road production to improve against a Boston team that's allowing the seventh-fewest goals per game (2.69).
Daniel Sedin, VAN at SJ ($17): The shoot-first Sedin's playing at a point-per-game pace over his past seven, but he also sports a minus-5 rating in that stretch. Getting on the scoresheet will be difficult against a Sharks team that's surrendering the second-fewest goals per game (2.47), so Sedin brings all of the usual rating downside without much of the scoring upside in this matchup.
Ryan McDonagh, NYR at NJ ($19): Don't let McDonagh's lack of goals fool you, as his two-way game is right up there with the game's elite options on the blue line. He's dished out 15 helpers in his team's past 20 games, and the eighth-year veteran's plus-11 rating is currently tied for the lowest mark of his career, so further growth in that category is to be expected. McDonagh's average of 7.4 fantasy points per game trails only $21 John Klingberg's 7.5 among defensemen priced below $24, and things should only get better considering the career 5.6 percent shooter is due for some goals after failing to score on his first 49 shots this season.
Cam Fowler, ANH at NYI ($15): Only three of Fowler's 10 points in 23 appearances this season have come with the extra man, but Anaheim's first-unit point man has a golden opportunity to improve that production here. With at least 15 power-play points in four of his six full NHL seasons, Fowler's capabilities with the extra man are far superior to what he's shown in this campaign. Anaheim's 22nd-ranked power play should start to climb with Getzlaf back in the fold, and there's no better opponent to start that ascent against than the Islanders, who are killing penalties at a league-low 72.3 percent in addition to allowing the most goals per game overall.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Erik Karlsson, OTT at TB ($30): Karlsson's offensive production has failed to mask his defensive deficiencies, as his 22 points in 27 games come along with an ugly minus-15 rating. A Tampa Bay team that's scoring the most goals per game (3.79) while allowing the fourth-fewest (2.52) has the perfect mix of offensive capability and defensive responsibility to limit Karlsson's strengths while exposing his weaknesses.
Justin Braun, SJ vs. VAN ($18): It's fair to question Braun's ability to keep up the pace offensively, as the 30-year-old defenseman's up to 15 points in 32 games after never previously logging more than 23 points in a season. Vancouver's also not the pushover it was last season, as the Canucks sport a strong 9-7-1 record on the road.