Saturday's nine-game NHL slate is the busiest in a while, with teams finally returning from their bye weeks. Owners that have been patiently waiting for their favorite fantasy contributors to return don't have to wait any longer, but it's still important to use discretion when selecting lineups for this slate, which kicks off at 1:00 PM Eastern time. Below you'll find the players to target, as well as those to avoid.
Jonathan Quick, LA vs. ANH ($33): The break came at a perfect time for Quick, who allowed four goals in each of his last two starts before sitting for a week. Despite those pedestrian efforts, the All-Star netminder still sports enviable season marks with a 19-13-2 record, 2.31 GAA and .926 save percentage. Expect those numbers to get even better by the time he's done dealing with a division-rival Ducks team that's scoring the seventh fewest goals per game (2.67).
GOALIE TO AVOID
Carey Price, MON vs. BOS ($30): Price will be joining Quick at the All-Star game, but he's easily the least deserving player selected to go to Tampa Bay this season with a 13-14-2 record, 2.89 GAA and .911 save percentage. The overrated netminder's average of 11.1 fantasy points per game suggests he's also overpriced at $30 in a neutral matchup, and Boston's 30 goals in the past six games make this matchup far tougher than neutral.
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Mika Zibanejad, NYR vs. NYI ($17): Zibanejad lit the lamp in two of his last three games, suggesting he's fully recovered from his concussion and ready to resume playing at the level that saw him pile up eight goals in the season's first 13 contests. Half of his 24 points in 33 appearances have come on the power play, so you couldn't hand pick a better opponent for Zibanejad to face than an Islanders club that's allowing a league-high 3.65 goals per game while killing penalties at the NHL's second lowest rate (74.1 percent).
CENTER TO AVOID
Mathew Barzal, NYI at NYR ($18): Barzal seems to be hitting a rookie wall, as he hasn't found the back of the net in six games while averaging just 3.8 fantasy points per game in that stretch. Getting back on track will be exceedingly difficult against Henrik Lundqvist, who boasts a 13-5-2 record, 2.41 GAA and .922 save percentage at home despite an incredibly slow start to the season.
Reilly Smith, VGK vs. EDM ($19): Smith, Erik Haula ($17) and James Neal ($21) are in a three-way tie for the Vegas franchise lead with four power-play goals apiece, making all three appealing plays against an Oilers penalty kill that's operating at a league-worst 71.4 percent. Of the three, Smith brings the most overall value, as his average of 7.5 fantasy points per game is easily superior to both Haula's 7.1 and Neal's 6.9. It also doesn't hurt that Smith's been red-hot of late with two goals and seven assists in the past six games.
Kevin Labanc, SJ vs. ARI ($12): San Jose's top offensive weapons are all well-known commodities, but using Labanc offers owners a chance to benefit from those players' production without spending the big bucks necessary to bring those guys in. Labanc skates on the second line and second power-play unit, allowing him to share the ice with the likes of Logan Couture. The Brooklyn native's made the most of those opportunities with nine points in his past nine games, and has a great chance to build on that recent success against a Coyotes club that's allowing the second most goals per game (3.44).
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WINGS TO AVOID
Zach Parise, MIN vs. WPG ($22): Parise will likely start living up to his $22 price eventually, but his average of 2.1 fantasy points per contest over the last five games suggests he's not there yet. With improvement already baked into his valuation, it doesn't makes sense to deploy Parise until that expected uptick in production actually manifests itself.
Wayne Simmonds, PHI at NJ ($19): Simmonds is a feast-or-famine player, as indicated by his 14 goals and minus-7 rating. Half of those markers have come on the power play, which means providing a positive impact will be difficult for the power forward against a Devils team that ranks eighth on the penalty kill (83.3 percent), while his rating could easily sink further against New Jersey's ninth ranked offense (3.10 goals per game).
Ivan Provorov, PHI at NJ ($18): Provorov was on fire before Philadelphia's bye, with an average of 18.6 fantasy points per game in his past three and 13.0 over the last seven. While his four goals and two assists over that larger span have certainly helped, the young Russian's established a high floor for himself with a plus-5 rating, 27 shots and 21 blocks in that time. His ability to fill up the stat sheet makes Provorov a terrific value regardless of opponent, especially with more minutes potentially available if Shayne Gostisbehere (illness) can't go.
Kevin Shattenkirk, NYR vs. NYI ($19): With no goals in his last 26 games and just five helpers in the past 17, Shattenkirk certainly needed the bye to clear his head. Despite the extended slump, Shattenkirk's still contributing points at a rate of 0.55 per game this season, and should soon start to climb closer to his career mark of 0.61. With Lundqvist often able to bail him out for even the most egregious mistakes in his own end, the offensive-minded blueliner is unlikely to see his price dip below the current $19. Thus, this matchup with the league's worst defensive team presents the perfect buy-low opportunity.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
John Klingberg, DAL vs. COL ($23): Klingberg's a fantastic all-around defenseman, but a big part of his value is tied to his team-leading 14 power-play points. Adding to that total won't be easy against a surging Avalanche penalty kill that's climbed to third best at 83.9 percent, and Klingberg's lofty price suggests it's wise to be selective with his matchups.
Cam Fowler, ANH at LA ($18): Fowler sports a minus-5 rating and has blocked more than one shot only once in the past 10 games, so his value is primarily tied to offensive contributions. The lone defenseman on Anaheim's top power-play unit is unlikely to mark the scoresheet against Los Angeles' top-ranked, 87.5 percent penalty kill, and scoring in general will be tough considering the Kings allow a league-low 2.36 goals per game overall.