The trade deadline came and went yesterday, with quite a bit of activity. With players settling into new roles all around the league, there are plenty of opportunities to find value in your DFS hockey lineup for the time being. Today’s NHL breakdown will highlight the best (and, in some cases, the worst) fantasy matchups on the board in each of the 10 games on the ice.
Nashville Predators @ New Jersey Devils
Vegas Line: NSH (-130), O/U 5
What happens when the best team in the NHL takes on a team who just waived the white flag on their season and shipped out nearly all of its veteran leadership? We’ll find out tonight when Nashville invades the Prudential Center.
After taking on the Rangers at Madison Square Garden last night, the Predators will make the short trip over the river to tangle with the New Jersey Devils tonight, and it’s hard to imagine them leaving the locker room tonight without two points. On the blue-line, all four of their workhorse defensemen make solid targets. Roman Josi and Shea Weber are expensive, but both log significant time on the point of the team’s top power-play and should pay off their asking prices against the Devils 22nd ranked penalty kill. Cody Franson and Seth Jones are also proving to be quiet capable offensively and spearhead the team’s second power-play unit. Up front, both of their top two lines are nice options, but pin-pointing which line will breakout on a nightly basis has proven to be a headache. Their defensemen look to be safer cash game plays tonight.
As for New Jersey, this matchup just screams “avoid” to me. They were a rather weak offensive team before the trade deadline and now without Jagr and Marek Zidlicky, their offensive cupboard looks even barer. Nashville has dropped three straight games for the first time this season and should be highly motivated to get back on the winning track.
Players to Watch:
- Roman Josi
- Mike Fisher
- Pekka Rinne (or Carter Hutton if Rinne gets some rest)
Calgary Flames @ Philadelphia Flyers
Vegas Line: PHI (-140), O/U 5.5
After losing Mark Giordano for the season and, to some capacity, looking like sellers at yesterday’s trade deadline, it’s hard to be as comfortable using Calgary players as it may have been a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, after failing to really gain traction towards a playoff spot, the Flyers shipped off Braydon Coburn to Tampa Bay in what may likely symbolized their front office’s admission of defeat.
As for Calgary, Giordano’s absence on the blue-line does open up some value for fellow blue-liners Dennis Wideman and T.J. Brodie. Brodie logged nearly 30 minutes of ice-time in their last game and has slid onto the point of the team’s top power-play unit, making his $4,500 price-tag look rather reasonable. Wideman is slightly more expensive, but he was actually used for over 30 minutes against the Islanders on Friday night and has racked up eight assists over the last nine games. With the loss of Curtis Glencross, the offensive burden will fall even more firmly on the top forward line of Gaudreau, Monahan and Hudler. All three players also see plenty of run on the teams #1 power-play unit and make for nice targets against the Flyers 76.3% penalty kill.
A look at the Flyers recent game log pretty much sums up their season; two straight losses, a win, two straight losses, two straight wins, two straight losses, a win. Needless to say, they’re as inconsistent as any team in hockey and therefore I prefer to look at them as risky cash game options. While Claude Giroux and Jacob Voracek are elite talents, their high asking prices are a bit of a turnoff in this one. However, Wayne Simmonds has tallied seven goals and added four assists over the last 11 games and appears to be loving life alongside Mr. Giroux on the team’s top forward line. At $5,400, his price-tag is much more attractive. On defense, Mark Streit and Michael Del Zotto are the top fantasy options on the Flyers. Both players will likely see an uptick in ice-time today to help replace some of the minutes lost by the departure of Coburn and both guys log significant time on the power-play. Streit has four assists over the last four games, while Del Zotto has picked up a pair of goals and dished out two assists over his last five.
Players to Watch:
- Wayne Simmonds
- Jiri Hudler
- Mark Streit
Washington Capitals @ Columbus Blue Jackets
Vegas Line: WSH (-150), O/U 5.5
The Capitals were rather quiet at the trade-deadline (acquiring Curtis Glencross from Calgary), signaling that they’re fairly confident with the pieces they already have in place. Columbus, on the other hand, waived the white flag and shipped off James Wisniewski to Anaheim and Jordan Leopold to Minnesota. These teams have split the first four games of this series this season, but they now appear to be heading in different directions.
The Capitals are fairly easy to dissect in fantasy hockey as the Ovie/Backstrom combo is responsible for such a high percentage of the team’s offense. With Columbus having dropped six straight games, they’re both top tier options once again tonight. Ovechkin scored his NHL leading 40th and 41st goals against the Maple Leafs on Sunday and has now posted 14 goals and 8 assists in 18 games since the All-Star break. The newly acquired Glencross is a gifted offensive player and skated on the team’s second forward line during morning practice, which should boost the fantasy value of both Troy Brouwer and Evgeny Kuznetsov. John Carlson has emerged as the top option from the Capitals blue-line, and he’s not shy about unleashing his booming slapshot from the point of the team’s top power-play unit. He’s picked up two goals and two assists over the last four games.
Columbus may be in the midst of a free-fall, but there are still some decent fantasy options here. Nick Foligno hasn’t done much lately (although he did score against Pittsburgh in his last game) but has absolutely feasted on the Capitals this season, scoring four goals and adding three assists in their four meetings. His Partner-in-Crime Ryan Johansen scored a goal and added an assist in his last game and has now tallied 10 goals and 19 assists in 31 home games. The departure of James Wisniewski paves the way for Jack Johnson to see all the minutes he can handle and locks him into a huge roll on the point of the top power-play unit.
Players to Watch:
- Alex Ovechkin
- Nick Foligno
- John Carlson
Buffalo Sabres @ Tampa Bay Lightning
Vegas Line: TBL (-385), O/U 5.5
The Sabres are bad, very bad. And they just traded away a handful of the few NHL caliber forwards that they actually had on their roster. Operation “Tank for McDavid” is officially underway. If you’re looking to target them here in Tampa Bay, then you should probably just get a new hobby.
Tampa is a huge favorite in Vegas and should be popular selections tonight. Steven Stamkos has five goals in his last five games and has tallied two goals and two assists in the four meetings thus far against Buffalo; he’s an elite option for both cash games and GPP’s. Pair him with one (or both) of his linemates, Ryan Callahan and Alex Killorn, to greatly reduce the average cost. Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov make up the team’s second forward line as well as #2 power-play unit, and it’s been that line that’s really solidified the Lightning as potential contenders in the Eastern Conference. Johnson has scored a pair of goals and added three assists over the last four game and has already picked up five assists against the Sabres this season. In GPP’s, you can easily go as deep as the third forward line of Valterri Filppula, Cedric Paquette and Jonathan Drouin. The absence of Brett Connolly should open the door for more opportunities for the highly touted Drouin.
On the blue-line, it’s still Victor Hedman leading the way and running the point of the team’s top power-play unit. He’ll set you back $5,600, but should be well worth the investment. Anton Stralman is much cheaper and has been heating up, posting a goal and six assists over the last seven games. Jason Garrison has been a workhorse for Tampa Bay and his hard-work has been rewarded with an extended look on the power-play as well, and he’s picked up six assists over the last seven games.
Ben Bishop should find himself between the pipes, and he’s defeated the Sabres in both prior starts against them and sports a 21-5-1 record with a 2.07 GAA and .927 SV% on home ice this season. The Sabres won’t force him into much of a workload, but he’s still a strong cash game option.
Players to Watch:
- Steven Stamkos
- Tyler Johnson
- Anton Stralman
Toronto Maple Leafs @ Florida Panthers
Vegas Line: FLA (-175), O/U 5
The Maple Leafs enter tonight’s game in Toronto having been shut out in back-to-back games and averaging just 1.94 goals per game on the road this season. They’re 4-21 since the All-Star break and just sent off several contributing players prior to the trade deadline. They’ll now head to South Florida to take on an improved Panthers team that has defeated them in each of their last four meetings. The fantasy options here are definitely limited and likely better served for GPP use. The top line centering on Phil Kessel is always a threat to put the puck in the net and could have success against the Panthers subpar, 23rd ranked penalty kill. On the blue-line, Dion Phanuef is finally back in action and he scored a goal in his first game back. At the same $4,300 price-point as Phanuef, Morgan Reilly has seen an expanded role on this team down the stretch and has picked up a pair of assists in the two meetings against Florida this season.
Florida looks to be on the verge of a playoff berth, but they’ve really shot themselves in the foot down the stretch, as they’re just 1-7 against sub-500 teams since the All-Star Break. If they have any hopes of over-taking the Boston Bruins for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, then games like these are now “must win” for them. This game likely won’t be the most fantasy friendly game on the slate, but Florida has found the back of the net nine times over the last two games, so there’s some value here. Jagr made his presence felt with his new team on Sunday, scoring a goal and adding an assist against the Lightning. He joins Barkov and Huberdeau to finally give the Panthers a capable second scoring line. With Dion Phaneuf likely looking to slow down the Bjugstad line, they’re my preferred options in this one. On defense, Aaron Ekblad continues to impress. The 19 year old lit the lamp in his last game and now owns 7 goals and 12 assists in 29 home games this season.
Players to Watch:
- Roberto Luongo
- Jaromir Jagr
- Phil Kessel
Ottawa Senators @ Minnesota Wild
Vegas Line: MIN (-200), O/U 5
The Ottawa Senators shut out the Minnesota Wild when these teams squared off in Ottawa earlier this season, and they’ve now rattled off five straight wins. They’ll be in for quite a test tonight, however, as after a roller coaster type start to the season, the Wild have found their groove lately and are now 13-2-1 over their last 16 games. The Senators have allowed just five goals during their current five game winning streak, while the Wild have only allowed six goals in their last five games, so definitely don’t expect many fireworks here.
From a fantasy perspective, and considering the tough matchup in Minnesota, it doesn’t seem to make much sense to target anyone outside Erik Karlsson on “D” and the Hoffman/Ryan/Zibanejad line up front. Mike Hoffman just enjoyed his tour of California as he tallied three goals and added a pair of assists during the three game road trip, and he also lit the lamp twice against the Wild in their previous meeting. Zibanejad also had a point in each game of the road trip, and Bobby Ryan continues to be the team’s most dangerous offensive weapon. It’s hard to ignore that line’s recent success, but a large dose of Ryan Suter awaits them tonight making them better served as GPP targets. In net, Andrew Hammond has been absolutely fantastic as Craig Anderson’s replacement; winning each of his last five starts and posting 1.00 GAA and .968 SV% in the process.
Things aren’t much more exciting on the Minnesota bench, as the viable fantasy options are rather limited there as well. Zach Parise has been quiet lately (no points in any of the last three games) but remains a top tier option on the wing. His linemates, Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville are also solid, and less expensive, options. Granlund is a former first round pick (9th overall in 2010) and looks to be settling in, as he’s scored a goal and picked up six assists over the last eight games. Pominville scored a goal against Colorado in Minnesota’s last game and sports some of the league’s most drastic home vs road splits (9 goals and 19 assists in 30 home games versus 4 goals and 10 assists in 32 road games).
In net Devan Dubnyk continues to thrive with his new team and has now posted a 15-3-1 record with a 1.64 GAA and .937 SV% in 20 starts with Minnesota.
Players to Watch:
- Zach Parise
- Mike Hoffman
- Devan Dubnyk
New York Islanders @ Dallas Stars
Vegas Line: NYI (-130), O/U 5.5
The Dallas Stars are simply a train wreck right now, as they’ve dropped six straight games and have given up 30 goals in the process. The Islanders hung a “7-spot” on them when these teams faced off against each other earlier in the year and look to be a nice option again tonight.
It’s no secret that the Islander’s offense runs through John Tavares. Their captain has now picked up points in three straight games and scored six goals and added eight assists over his last nine games. He’s expensive, but the matchup is terrific. Joining him on the team’s top forward line are the much more affordable Anders Lee and Josh Bailey. Anders Lee scored against the Stars in that first meeting and just wrapped up a month of February that saw him post 7 goals and 8 assists in 15 games. At $4,500, he’s one of the best values on the board. Frans Nielsen and Ryan Strome are both immensely talented offensive players and both join Tavares and Lee on the team’s top power-play unit. With Dallas sporting an ugly 79.7% penalty kill, they’re strong options tonight as well. On defense, it’s a three horse race for the Islanders these days as Nick Leddy, Johnny Boychuck and Travis Hamonic all possess offensive upside and see plenty of run with the man advantage.
Dallas is another team that has become pretty simple to analyze tonight as they take on the Islanders and their league worst penalty kill. Jason Spezza and taken over as Jamie Benn’s center since the Tyler Seguin injury, and that duo has exploded for a combined eight goals and 11 assists in the eight games without Seguin. On the blue-line, both John Klingberg and Trevor Daley hog nearly all of the time on the point of the power-play. Daley is a lock for 20+ minutes of ice-time and has picked up two goals and added four assists over the last six games.
Players to Watch:
- John Tavares
- Nick Leddy
- John Klingberg
Anaheim Ducks @ Arizona Coyotes
Vegas Line: ANA (-220), O/U 5.5
The Coyotes were a pretty poor team before Monday’s trade deadline, but now after trading away Keith Yandle, Zbynek Michalek, and Antoine Vermette, they look to be Buffalo Sabres bad. They’ve lost nine straight games and the only fantasy relevant option on this team is Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Your time and money is best spent looking elsewhere.
The Ducks have won four straight road games, but have actually struggled with the Coyotes this season. That certainly won’t scare me away from them tonight, however. The experiment of splitting up Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry finally seems to have ended, so both players find themselves as elite fantasy targets tonight. Kyle Palmieri has the luxury of being the third wheel on the top forward line and also sees time on the #1 power-play unit, making him a bargain tonight against the ‘Yotes 27th ranked penalty kill. Ryan Kesler has been awfully quiet lately as the center of Andew Cogliano and Jakob Silfverberg on the team’s second scoring line, but he also joins the #1 power-play unit and owns three assists against Arizona already this season. The addition of James Wisniewski is certainly good news for the Ducks, but it further muddies the waters from a fantasy perspective on their defense. Cam Fowler is still dirt cheap and seeing the lion’s share of the minutes with the top power-play unit, so he’s a nice punt option.
Players to Watch:
- Ryan Getzlaf
- Jakob Silfverberg
- John Gibson
Los Angeles Kings @ Edmonton Oilers
Vegas Line: LA (-210), O/U 5
After lighting the league on fire down the stretch in February, the Kings have inexplicably dropped three straight games. However, they should get back on track tonight against this poor Edmonton team who is now without one of their better defenders, Jeff Petry. Los Angeles has won five of the last six meetings in this series while outscoring the Oilers 20-7 in the process.
If you’re targeting Edmonton at all, then looking anywhere other than Nugent-Hopkins or Eberle just seems like a stretch. However, they’ll likely see a large dose of Anze Kopitar’s suffocating defense and shouldn’t be trusted for cash games.
Los Angeles, on the other hand, looks to be in a nice spot here. Edmonton is allowing 3.30 goals against per game and own the league’s 26th worst penalty kill. The Gaborik/Kopitar/Lewis line is more than capable of lighting up the scoreboard here, but I’m more interested in the “That 70’s Line” tonight. Jeff Carter lit the lamp twice on Sunday and has posted a goal and two assists in the two prior meetings with Edmonton this season. Despite being held without a point for five straight games, Dwight King looks like a bargain at $2,600, as Edmonton will simply have no answer for his size and strength in front of the net. On defense Drew Doughty leads the way, but Jake Muzzin and the newly acquired Andrej Sekera will both see a healthy dose of playing time on the power-play and are slightly more affordable.
Players to Watch:
- Jeff Carter
- Anze Kopitar
- Jake Muzzin