The puck may have dropped on the 2014-15 NHL season last night, but tonight’s the night when things really get under way. There are 24 teams set for action tonight and DraftKings is pleased to welcome the NHL back in style with their 30K Return to the Ice Celebration, so be sure to check it out.
If you’re new to DFS hockey, here are some picks to help you get started!
Sergei Bobrovsky – Columbus Blue Jackets – Bobrovsky has been terrific since joining the Blue Jackets two years ago, owning a 53-31 record in 95 starts. Tonight he’ll take on a Buffalo team that was anemic on offense last season (39 goals less than any team in the league). He really turned things on down the stretch last season, posting a 12-6-2 record with a 2.13 GAA and .932 save percentage after the Olympic Break. He comes with a reasonable 7700 asking price and finally looks to have a healthy (and signed) offense in front of him. The Sabres may have improved slightly in the offseason, but they’re still far from an intimidating offense.
Ben Bishop – Tampa Bay Lightning – With the wrist injury that derailed his 2013-14 campaign behind him, Bishop will be eager to pick up where he left off before the injury last season as he was headed towards a potential Vezina Trophy with a 37-14-7 record, 2.23 GAA and .924 Save Percentage. Tonight he’ll take on the cross-state rival Florida Panthers whom he just closed out the preseason against in style with a 37 save shutout. The Panthers lack true fire-power (they’re leading point getter last season posted a pedestrian 38 points) and Bishop is in a very nice spot to secure a “W”. He’ll likely be a highly owned player today with just a 7100 price-tag.
Others: Pekka Rinne, Brian Elliott, Mike Smith
Steven Stamkos – Tampa Bay Lightning – It’s not a secret that he’s a stud, and that’s reflected in his hefty asking price. However, he terrorized this Florida team to the tune of five goals and three assists in just three meetings last season. Tampa owned an impressive 25-10-6 record on home ice last season and should have little trouble against a still very raw Florida team that owned an abysmal 76% penalty kill last season. I’d rather pay up for Stamkos tonight than Sidney Crosby. To help offset his high asking price, you can pair him with his line-mate Andrej Palat (5000) who led all rookies with 25 points (in just 23 games) during the 2nd half of last season.
Patrick Hornqvist – Pittsburgh Penguins – Few players in the NHL received as big of a fantasy boost during the offseason as Hornqvist did after being shipped off to Pittsburgh for James Neal. He’ll join Chris Kunitz and Sidney Crosby on the Pens top scoring line and is also set to see a large dose of minutes on their lethal #1 power-play unit. He was never really unleashed offensively under Barry Trotz’ defense-first system in Nashville, but managed to post a 30 goal season nonetheless. He’s never been shy to shoot the puck, and playing alongside Crosby will open things up for him tremendously. He’s better offensively than Pascal Dupuis and we’ve seen Crosby raise Dupuis to fantasy relevance over the last few seasons.
Nathan MacKinnon – Colorado Avalanche – Last year’s Calder Trophy winner will look to build upon his 24 goal and 39 assist and a +20 debut. He netted three goals and two assists in five meetings against Minnesota during his rookie campaign and his elite speed makes him a threat to score every time he hits the ice. By the end of last season he was consistently logging 20 minutes of ice-time per game on the wing of both the top forward line and top power-play unit for the Avalanche and this Minnesota team struggled on the PK all season (78.8%).
Mike Ribeiro – Nashville Predators – Ribeiro will meet up with an old teammate, James Neal, to combine forces on the Predators top forward line and top power-play unit. He owns elite playmaking ability and looks set for a bounce-back season with the Neal ready to fire away from his right-side. The Senators allowed 3.23 GAA per game last season and didn’t do much to improve themselves in the offseason. He’s a huge bargain at 3,900 and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him rack up a point-per-game this season.
Value: Jori Lehtera, Marko Dano, Gabriel Bourque, Benoit Pouliot, Brandon Saad, Johnny Gaudreau, Mark Scheifele, Tomas Tatar, Mikael Granlund, Valeri Nichushkin
Alex Pietrangelo – St. Louis Blues – Expectations are high in St. Louis this season, and it all starts with their strong core of defenseman. The most offensively skilled of their defenseman is probably Pietrangelo, who racked up 49 points last season. He thrived at the Scottrade Center where he posted 60.8% of his seasons points in 40 home games. He averaged over 25 minutes of ice-time per game last season and quarterbacks the Blue’s top power play unit.
Keith Yandle – Arizona Coyotes – Yandle has proven to be one of the better offensive minded defenseman in the game today. He racked up 53 points last season and flourished home ice where he 32 points in just 41 games at the Jobing.com Arena. He’s a lock for 20+ minutes of ice-time and is a staple of the ‘Yotes top PP unit. His +/- was a liability last year, but we don’t need to concern ourselves with that here.
Others: Victor Hedman, Zdeno Chara, Shea Weber, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Erik Karlsson
Values: Alex, Goligoski, Seth Jones, Brendan Smith, David Savard, Brian Campbell, T.J. Brodie