It’s a smaller four-game slate this Friday with a couple of teams making their season debuts. The Devils take on the Jets, who lost their first game 6-4. New Jersey is rolling out a revamped roster for 2019-20 and should be fun to watch. The Islanders also kick off their season against Washington while the Sharks and Golden Knights play the second leg of a home-and-away series. The Blue Jackets are also on the slate for the first time this year against the Leafs.
Top Line Stacks
Devils vs. Jets
Nico Hischier ($5,200) – Taylor Hall ($7,500) – Kyle Palmieri ($5,800)
Taylor Hall returns after an injury-plagued season and will be a mainstay on the first line again with winger Kyle Palmieri. Hall’s upside is obvious, and he should be eager to get off to a fast start after missing so much of last season. Pairing him with the Palmieri, who averaged nearly 3 shots on goal per game last year, and will be beside Hall on the first-line power play, also makes sense. Winnipeg allowed the fifth-most shots on goal last year and had the ninth-worst penalty kill as well. You could choose to pair them with a defenseman (see below) but center Nico Hischier is set to play between these two goal-scorers and is quite affordable. The former No. 1 overall pick upped his point-per-game total to 0.68 last year and should benefit from the overall depth in the organization and a healthy Hall. This is a solid matchup against a team that surrendered six goals on opening night.
Superstar to Build Around
Brent Burns ($6,700), SJ vs. VGK – The new DraftKings scoring changes are going to give a boost to certain players, and Brent Burns is likely near the top of that list. The defenseman topped 300 SOG once again last season, placing him atop the NHL for all defenseman in this stat and seventh overall in the league. He also ended the year with well over 100 blocked shots, meaning he’s going to have nights where he gets both the DK SOG and blocked shots bonuses. The Golden Knights aren’t the greatest matchup in the world, but tonight’s game is in San Jose, where likely starter Marc-Andre Fleury ($8,100) has a far inferior record with a GAA 0.5 points bigger and a save percentage 0.14 points less than his home splits. Burns recorded an assist, four shots and two blocked shots in the first game for San Jose, and he could be set to top those marks in San Jose’s home opener.
Value on Offense
Jakub Vrana, WAS at NYI ($3,800) – Vrana started the season strong, recording five SOG and a goal against the Blue. He’s now skating on Washington’s second line, and he could be in line to hit the over on his 24 goals from last season if he stays in that role. The matchup isn’t the greatest here, but Vrana’s price is too cheap for a player set to play north of 15 minutes every night in the top-six for a dynamic offensive team. He’s a fine value play until his price gets above $4K.
Nikita Gusev, NJD vs. WPG ($4,100) – Gusev has been tearing up the KHL for the past couple seasons and joined the Devils this offseason in a trade with Vegas. He looks set to start the season on the Devils second line — which normally would be a death sentence — but will be playing alongside No. 1 pick Jack Hughes ($4,700). There’s plenty of unknowns here, but talent like Hughes and Gusev shouldn’t take long to gel and the matchup against the Jets, a team that allowed six goals opening night, which features weak goaltending and a thinner defense compared to last season, is a great one.
Cory Schneider, NJD vs. WPG ($8,000) – As you can probably tell already, I have a distinct Devils theme going for the article today. New Jersey enters their opening night game as (-141) favorites, are one of the biggest favorites on the slate. Schneider may be coming off a down year, but he looked like he was back to his solid self in the preseason, in which he recorded a .952 SV%. The Jets aren’t the easiest of opponents for a goalie considering their talent up front, but the odds, the improved play from Schneider in the preseason, and the Devils new roster says this is a good spot for him.
Semyon Varlamov, NYI vs. WAS ($7,500) – Varlamov is expected to make his first start for his new team against the Capitals, the team he was drafted by. He’s a volatile goalie but the Islanders featured some of the best defense in the league last year, posting a 2.21 goals-against average as a team last year, the lowest mark in the league. The Islanders are (-121) favorites, second-best on the slate, so Varlamov has a decent shot of picking up the win bonus here, as well. He’s a solid GPP swerve from the goalies whose teams are heavier favorites.
Value on Defense
Jake Muzzin, TOR at CLB ($4,100) – Muzzin began his career with the Leafs on the top pairing in game one for Toronto, playing over 22 minutes. Muzzin’s a pretty dynamic player from a fantasy perspective in that he averaged just under two SOG and two blocked shots per game last year and also poured in nine goals and 28 assists. Even if he doesn’t get much power-play time, his ice time should ensure some big games given his ability to rack up points in other categories. The Blue Jackets lost a lot of big named players this off-season and feature weaker goaltending, making this a good spot for Muzzin and Leafs players in general.
Devon Toews, NYI vs. WAS ($3,000) – Toews will be starting his second year in the NHL and the 20-year-old certainly seems like he’s going to be a fantasy player to watch this season. He recorded 18 points in just 48 games last year but also averaged just under two SOG per game. He’s set to take a bigger role this year in the top-four for the Islanders and should see consistent power-play minutes with the second unit. The Capitals had the eighth-worst penalty-kill last season and make for a good opponent here.
P.K. Subban, NJ vs. WPG ($5,100) – The Devils roll out a brand new lineup tonight, and topping the list of new names will be P.K. Subban. The former Predator is coming off a down year. but he should be in for a ton of opportunities with the Devils as he’s set to anchor their power play and play on their top pairing. The Jets mark a great opportunity to roll out Subban at an affordable price point for a defensive stud as the Jets featured the ninth-worst penalty kill last season. Subban was 27th in SOG among defenseman last year and is set for big minutes, meaning he could start the new season off with a big game here.
Zach Werenski, CLB vs. TOR ($4,500) – Werenski’s coming off a 44-point season and represents some decent value for those needing a higher-end blueliner for cheap. He’s set to share power-play time with Seth Jones ($5,800) but points-per-dollar-wise seems like a better investment given his higher goal rate. It should be noted that 17 of Werenski’s 44 points from last year came on the power play, and the Leafs were in the bottom half of the league in terms of penalty kill and goals allowed last season.
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