Highest Vegas Totals and Biggest Favorite
Biggest Favorite: LA Kings (-240)
– Blackhawks v Islanders—5.5
– Rangers v Blue Jackets—5.5
Stud Goalies (to avoid playing skaters against)
Cory Schneider—Devils ($6800): The Devils had an awful 2014-2015 season but that wasn’t due to their goaltending. Schneider was a star last season posting an insane save percentage of .925 and a GAA of 2.26. The Devils also ranked 24th in the league in shots allowed meaning Schneider was typically racking up a lot of fantasy points through his stellar play (each save counts for points). The Devils play the Jets tonight who are on the second half of a back to back meaning Schneider will also have a better chance of getting a win. I’d avoid playing skaters against him and think about using him tonight as your main goalie.
Dud Goalies (to possibly target skaters against)
Mike Smith—Coyotes ($6400): The Coyotes were one of the worst teams in the league last year allowing the most goals against and the 4th most shots against. Not helping was that starting goalie Mike Smith was awful at times and ended last season with a GAA of well over 3.00. Smith played better in the second half of 2014 but the Coyotes are still awfully undermanned on defense. Target the Kings tonight as a team to use for fantasy as they take on Smith and the Coyotes.
John Tavares ($7600)—Anders Lee ($4600)—Ryan Strome ($4500)
With the season still in start-up mode I thought it would be appropriate to target one of the best players from the 2014 season in John Tavares. Tavares was second in scoring last season and will be playing with two young dynamic wingers to start the year in Anders Lee and Ryan Strome. The speed of Strome and goal scoring prowess Lee showed last year could combine with Tavares’ overall brilliance to form one of the best lines of 2015. I like targeting this trio right out of the gate.
Top Upside and Top Value at Defense
Mike Green ($5000): Green is one of the most interesting FA signings of the year for fantasy. He was a major offensive point producer for much of his time in Washington and even though his points tallied off a bit in the past few years don’t be shocked if finds a bit of a revival offensively with the Wings. Green should see a ton of powerplay time and also be allowed to roam 5-5. He’s a good target on a shorter slate tonight.
Jakub Kindl ($2600): If you don’t want to pay up for Green you could always target Detroit’s other more offensive-minded defenseman Jakub Kindl. Kindl won’t see as much ice time as Green since he’s on the third pairing but he’s slated to be a part of the powerplay unit for the Red Wings to start the year. Kindl could be a cheap way to get assists for fantasy tonight as the Leafs should struggle with Detroit’s skill and puck possession abilities.
Best Superstar to Build Lineups Around
Henrik Zetterberg ($6200): With first line centre Paval Datsyuk out for the start of the season the Red Wings will be asking their other star forward Henrik Zetterberg to take on an even bigger workload. Already a special teams ace Zetterberg’s power play time and offensive production will likely see an improvement without the insanely talented Datsyuk in the lineup. Zetterberg is more than capable of producing a big night, especially against the error prone Maple Leafs, who by the way are now being led by former Red Wing coach Mike Babcock. Target Zetterberg as a core player tonight.
Best Value Plays to Fill out your lineup with
Teuvo Terevainen ($4000): Terevainen got the nod on wing on the Blackhawks first line to start the year and immediately paid dividends scoring in his first game. As long as he’s playing with Toews and Hossa I think you have to keep playing Teuvo in fantasy, especially if he’s being priced well under other first line wingers. He’s young but has the skill to produce playing with two possible hall of famers.
Justin Abdelkadar ($4200): I love targeting Abdelkadar when he’s playing on one of the top two lines in Detroit (which he is tonight). Abdelkadar is a great two way player who will see a ton of ice-time, including work on the powerplay (14 pp points last year). He’s great value and usually provides consistent production.
Paval Datsyuk: Datsyuk is out for the Red Wings to start the year meaning Zetterberg and Brad Richards should see more ice time.
David Clarkson: Clarkson is now a Blue Jacket and is out to start the year, there may be some cheap talent who sees more ice on the top two lines in Columbus early as a result.