Six games of NHL action to start your weekend of DraftKings hockey contests, DFS hockey players have a rock-solid player pool to dive into and fill-out their lineups with both superstar and value plays. Let’s take a look at some of top and bargain buys for tonight’s game:

Goaltender

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Braden Holtby ($8,300) – In the same way as Patrick Kane, Tyler Seguin or Jamie Benn, Holtby has now entered that conversation of someone you should have in your lineup on a nightly basis. I know the argument for not spending big on goaltending but Holtby is in another class right now with wins in nine of his last 10 and not losing in regulation since before Thanksgiving. Holtby now has an incredible 20-4-1 record on the season and in the top-two of the league in both GAA and SV%. The Capitals welcome the Lightning to DC tonight and just last week Holtby held the Bolts to one goal on 36 shots in a Caps victory.

Jimmy Howard ($7,300) – Howard will get the nod between the pipes for the Red Wings on Friday night over Petr Mrazek. It’s been a true time-share for Detroit this season with the goalie tandem splitting reps pretty evenly with Mrazek slightly leading in games played. Howard has posted slightly better numbers overall and has been strong in his previous three games going 1-0-2 while allowing only six goals against. The Wings face Vancouver on Friday and for his career Howard is 12-6-2 against the Canucks and is a good mid-range buy in net tonight.

Others to Consider: Henrik Lundqvist ($8,000), Roberto Luongo ($7,800), Andrew Hammond ($7,600), Connor Hellebuyck ($6,500).

Defender

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John Carlson ($6,800) – Carlson continues to roll for the Capitals riding a four-game point streak and registering at least a point in eight of his last 10 games. He has goals in back-to-back games for Washington and on this most recent four-game explosion Carlson has managed five points, nine blocked shots and 17 SOG. He’s my top defensemen of the night followed closely by this next defenseman but Carlson checks in $600 cheaper.

Erik Karlsson ($7,400) – After a four-game pointless streak, Karlsson now has posted points in back-to-back contests against LA and Washington. The Senators captain continues to lead all defensemen in the league in points with 35, good for a tie with Taylor Hall for fourth overall in league scoring. He has a great matchup tonight against a Sharks team who played last night and presumably will start backup Alex Stalock, after Martin Jones got the nod last night, and his .891 SV% and 2.95 GAA. Karlsson has been fantastic this season overall but has been slightly better on home ice where he has put up 20 of his 35 points in 16 games, so if you can afford the cap hit put him in your lineups.

Justin Braun ($3,500) – A great value-buy tonight from the Sharks is second-pair defenseman Braun who has seven points in his last 10 games. Never known to be much of an offensive threat, Braun has 11 points in 29 games this season and is on pace to break his previous career high of 23 points which he set last season. He has six points spanning his last six games, including two multi-point games, and has put up solid all-around numbers with 15 blocks and 14 shots on goal. He’s an inexpensive, top-six option for your lineup tonight in what could be a high-scoring affair in Ottawa.

Aaron Ekblad ($4,800) – Before being held off the scoresheet last night, the reigning Calder trophy winner had a three-game point streak and points overall in four of his last five games. After a slow start to his season Ekblad has come on strong as of late with six of his 15 points coming in his last 10 outings. He leads all Panthers defensemen in points and leads the team in SOG with 84, good for fifth among defensemen in the league. The Panthers have a great matchup with Carolina on Friday night and Ekblad is a great mid-level option for your lineups.

Others to Consider: Justin Faulk ($6,200), Torey Krug ($5,900), Victor Hedman ($4,800), Mike Green ($4,500), Tyler Myers ($3,800), Keith Yandle ($4,700), Alexander Edler ($5,000).

Forward

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Joe Pavelski ($7,500) – Pavelski continues to be an offensive juggernaut for the Sharks and is riding back-to-back multi-point games for San Jose. The Sharks Captain put up a goal and two assists, including two PPP, and now has 11 points and three multi-point games in his last 10. On the season he leads the Sharks in all three major scoring categories and is second on the team to Brent Burns in shots on goal. He is bouncing between the wing and center on the Sharks top line but make no mistake, he is the best offensive player on the Sharks at the moment and one of the most consistent scorers in the NHL this season so roll him any chance you get.

Bobby Ryan ($5,600) – Ryan continues his torrid scoring and is nearing point-per-game status with 30 points in 32 games this season. Ryan is producing all-around this season and his 2-to-1 assist to goal ratio is proof that he is developing into more than just a pure scorer for the Sens which is good news playing with playmakers like Mike Hoffman and Kyle Turris. Ryan and the Senators have a favorable matchup against the Sharks who are allowing 2.50 GA/G on the road this season.

Nikita Kucherov ($5,600) – Kucherov is finding his scoring touch and has six goals, including two multi-goal games, in his last six contests. With the Lightning struggling to produce anything as of late Kucherov has stepped up and been a consistent producer of offense for the team. They have a tough matchup against the Capitals on Friday night but Kucherov was the lone member of the Lightning to get a puck past Braden Holtby the last time these two teams tangled last week. He’s coming off a multi-point game against Toronto on Tuesday night and is his six game outburst is averaging three SOG per game.

Phil Di Giuseppe ($2,800) – I wrote about Di Giuseppe earlier in the week playing on the wing of Victor Rask and Jeff Skinner. All he did that night was have his first multi-point game assisting on two of Jeff Skinners hat-trick goals. He’s now riding a modest four-game point streak that has produced all five of his points so far and he’s settling in nicely on that Hurricanes third line. With his production of late, and his price tag t $2,800 he’s almost a must-buy tonight in a favorable matchup against the Panthers.

Brandon Pirri ($4,300) – Coming off a three-point night against the Devils last night Pirri is now riding a six-point, five-game scoring streak for the Panthers. The 24-year-old has been a pleasant surprise for Florida this season after a 22 goal, two assist season last year, the center has seven goals and 11 assists (career-high) in 32 games and is well on his way to establishing new highs in assists and points. His 80 shots on goal are second on the Panthers to Ekblad and he is well on his way to a new career-high there as well. Pirri is seeing some of the highest amounts of TOI in his career this season playing both in the Panthers top-six and on their second power-play unit, where he has seven PPP this season. Take a chance on him tonight against the porous Hurricanes back-end.

Others to Consider: Alex Ovechkin ($8,800), Jeff Skinner ($4,400), Nicklas Backstrom ($6,400), Joe Thornton ($4,400), Blake Wheeler ($6,900), Rick Nash ($7,100), Evgeny Kuznetsov ($5,700), David Krejci ($6,000), Mike Hoffman ($5,900), Henrik Zetterberg ($6,100), Daniel Sedin ($7,000), Sidney Crosby ($7,000), Chris Kunitz ($4,100).

Make sure to check out the NHL Cheat Sheet and NHL Line Stacks posts today and as always for any DFS Hockey questions or comments this season, find me on Twitter at: @JHarding_Hockey