The NHL regular season begins Wednesday with four contests. The Maple Leafs open on home ice as the biggest favorites of the evening against the Senators, and the Oilers and Golden Knights also host the Canucks and Sharks in divisional showdowns, respectively. The marquee matchup of the slate features the last two Stanley Cups winners, St. Louis and Washington squaring off at Enterprise Center.
Top Line Stacks
Maple Leafs vs. SenatorsAndreas Johnsson ($5,400) – Auston Matthews ($7,700) – William Nylander ($5,500)
Building around these three Maple Leafs will probably be a popular approach. It’s a cushy matchup against the Senators, and Matthews, Johnsson and Nylander clicked for 5.21 goals and 19.8 high-danger scoring chances per 60 minutes during the preseason. Additionally, there’s a lot of added incentive to start the season strong for both Matthews and Nylander. Ottawa did also allow the most goals per 60 minutes in the league last season.
Blues vs. CapitalsJaden Schwartz ($4,900) – Brayden Schenn ($4,700) – Vladimir Tarasenko ($6,700)
This is a manageable cap hit to load up St. Louis’ No. 1 line, and especially considering their solid chemistry during last year’s Stanley Cup run (3.28 goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5). Additionally, Schwartz, Schenn and Tarasenko are projected to skate on the same power-play unit, and they combined for three goals and five assists in the lone preseason game they played as a trio, which just so happened to be against Washington. The Capitals ranked bottom five in both expected goals against and high-danger scoring chances allowed last season, and the organization failed to make any significant moves to improve its team defense.
Superstar to Build AroundConnor McDavid, EDM vs. VAN ($8,100) – After proving his health through two preseason contests, McDavid returns to being a go-to option. His 224 points over the past two years tops everyone in Wednesday’s player pool, and McDavid has also recorded more points against the Canucks — 21 through 17 games — than any other franchise.
Value on OffenseKevin Labanc, SJ at VGK ($4,700) – The 23-year-old wing took a notable leap forward last season, and now he’s slated to open the 2019-20 campaign atop the San Jose depth chart in all situations. It projects as a tough matchup against the Golden Knights, so there’s also contrarian potential for Labanc.
Alex Kerfoot, TOR vs. OTT ($3,200) – As noted, the Senators should prove to be a soft matchup for the Maple Leafs, and Kerfoot has recorded consecutive 40-point seasons as a secondary contributor with the Avalanche. The move to Toronto should prove beneficial with opposing teams needing to focus on Toronto’s stars. Look for Kerfoot to take advantage of soft in-game matchups Wednesday.
Tomas Jurco, EDM vs. VAN ($2,500) – At minimum price, and projected to flank McDavid ($8,100), Jurco checks out as an obvious value candidate. The Czech has recorded three tallies, two helpers and 12 shots through four preseason games, and he’s also an established AHL scorer with an offensive pedigree. Just expect Jurco to be highly owned if he opens the season on Edmonton’s No. 1 line.
Stud GoaliesFrederik Andersen, TOR vs. OTT ($8,400) – The Maple Leafs open as the biggest favorites of the night, and Andersen has gone 41-18-3 at home over the past two seasons. He was also perfect in the preseason stopping all 68 shots through three appearances. While the price is steep, it’s hard to look past Andersen in this goalie pool.
Mike Smith, EDM vs. VAN ($7,400) – Turning to an Edmonton netminder has been a risky fantasy proposition for a number of years, and Smith is coming off an underwhelming season. Still, the downside is baked into the price, and the Oilers are home favorites. The Canucks finished last in expected goals for per 60 minutes last year and didn’t make any significant offensive upgrades during the offseason.
Value on DefenseQuinn Hughes, VAN at EDM ($4,000) – After a cup of coffee at the highest level to finish off last season, Hughes is worth a look at his price point Wednesday. He’s mobile, moves the puck well and projects to open the season playing big minutes and manning the point on the No. 1 power-play unit. Hughes has oodles of international experience and recorded three helpers — two with the man-advantage — through five NHL games last season.
Rasmus Sandin, TOR vs. OTT ($2,700) – Projected to crack the Opening Night lineup, Sandin is a low-priced stack candidate from the Maple Leafs. He collected two assists, nine shots and 14 shot attempts through four preseason contests while skating to an impressive 61.1 Corsi For percentage at 5-on-5.
Power-Play DefensemenShea Theodore, VGK vs. SJ ($5,300) – Over the past two seasons, Theodore’s 1.4 points per 60 minutes rank 35th among regular defensemen, which includes just 18 points with the man-advantage. He’s projected to open the season quarterbacking the No. 1 power-play unit and offers a nice fantasy floor after registering 202 shots and 91 blocks last year. For what it’s worth, Theodore also registered eight points during Vegas’ seven-game playoff series against San Jose last spring.
Oscar Klefbom, EDM vs. VAN ($5,000) – The Swede has been a streaky producer, but entering his age-26 season, there’s still a lot to like about his fantasy setup. Klefbom is slated to open the season in a top offensive role after finishing off the 2018-19 campaign with 10 points, 35 shots and 17 blocks through his final 15 contests. This is a reasonable price, and he should continue to share the ice with McDavid ($8,100) a lot.
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