It’s another busy night with eight NHL games on the docket and plenty of opportunities for value picks and line stacks among forwards. The goalie market has favorable options to choose from in the upper and middle tiers, but not many cheap fliers below $7,000 with a decent shot at the win bonus. The defensemen crop is thin, so it’s time to get creative so you can break the bank on high-upside forwards. Here are targets at each position for Thursday:
Kari Lehtonen ($7,100) – Lehtonen hasn’t played since Nov. 24th because of an upper-body injury, but was activated Wednesday and will likely come to the rescue Thursday after Dallas blew a big lead on the road in Calgary their last time out. Lehtonen is 6-0-0 with 12 goals allowed in road games this season, and the Stars are an NHL-best 10-2-1 away from home. I expect the Dallas offense to respond in a big way in Vancouver and Lehtonen to end up with the ‘W’ even if he allows two or three goals.
Semyon Varlamov ($6,800) – Varlamov is getting the start on the road against the Rangers, who will be on the second of a back-to-back. Since joining Colorado, Varly is 2-1-0 at Madison Square Garden with 40-plus saves in two of those games. The Avs (44.55) and Rangers (45.43) are the two worst teams League-wide in terms of Shot Attempts percentage, so there will be plenty of opportunities to go around. Don’t be surprised to see this matchup come down to the more talented goalie, and that could be Varlamov on this night — likely opposing Rangers backup Antti Raanta. Varlamov is capable of stealing a game on any given day and I’d roll him out in a large GPP contest in case he tosses a gem. His two games this season with a .950 or better save percentage have come on the road in wins against the Lightning (.971) and Jets (.952). He’s a risky, against-the-grain option, but one that could pay large dividends and spell you some cap relief (T-21st on goalie price scale) if he gets the win or makes 30-plus saves in a close loss.
Others to consider: Braden Holtby ($8,000), Devan Dubnyk ($7,500), Jimmy Howard ($7,300)
Duncan Keith ($5,200) – The Senators are allowing 2.88 goals per game this season (T-7th most in NHL) and will likely be without two of their top-nine forwards in Milan Michalek and Mika Zibanejad, so you have to imagine Keith and the Blackhawks offense are licking their chops. Keith is still priced low (T-11th among D-men) but is averaging 3.4 DraftKings points per contest, the same as P.K. Subban — who’s $1,100 more expensive. Keith covers the peripheral categories well, is a puck-possession cog and has nine points in 10 road games this season with 17 shots on goal & 17 blocked shots. Expect Patrick Kane’s 20-game point streak to continue and Keith to have a hand on at least one point in this game.
Jared Spurgeon ($4,400) – Spurgeon is tied for 10th in the NHL (minimum 20 games played) with 2.2 blocked shots per game, providing excellent foundation for this thin market of blueliners for Thursday. He has 13 points in 23 games, but most of his damage has come at Xcel Energy Center (nine points, 28 blocks, 17 SOG in 12 home games). He sees 1:42 per game with the man-advantage and will have exposure to scoring chances against the Maple Leafs, who will be on the second leg of a back-to-back.
Others to consider: John Klingberg ($6,000), Oliver Ekman-Larsson ($5,400), Matt Niskanen ($4,200), John Moore ($2,900)
Matt Duchene ($5,900) – Duchene and the Avalanche visit the Rangers, who are coming off a emotionally draining shootout loss to the Islanders on Wednesday. Considering he’s been the second-hottest player over the past month behind Patrick Kane, it’s a wonder that he’s still priced ninth among centers despite ranking third in DraftKings points per contest (3.9). Duchene has 16 points and 41 SOG in 15 road games this season, and faces a Rangers team reeling after losing Derek Stepan and Kevin Klein to injuries.
Mikael Granlund ($4,200) – My high-upside, low-priced stack of the night is Granlund with Zach Parise ($7,600), who play together at even strength and on the power play. Granlund is a budding star as a distributor at 23 years old who has thrived over his past 10 games (two goals, eight assists, 17 SOG). He had five SOG in his last game at Chicago, and started his flurry of points prior to Parise’s return from injury. Parise is still seeking his first multipoint game since returning, but he had a building-block outing against the Blackhawks with one assist, three blocks and four SOG (5.5 DraftKings points). Expect this duo to combine on a point or two against Toronto at home.
Brandon Pirri ($4,100) – The Panthers have won three straight and Brandon Pirri is playing on the top line with Aleksander Barkov ($5,200) and Jaromir Jagr ($5,200) of late. He has two goals and 16 SOG in his past three games, and was one of my preseason sleepers that’s finally seeing elevated minutes. He’s a high-volume shooter who eclipsed 20 goals last season and should only see greater production with Nick Bjugstad (upper body) sidelined for the next few games.
Others to consider: Evgeny Kuznetsov ($5,700), Pavel Datsyuk ($5,600), Dylan Larkin ($5,100), Martin Hanzal ($4,400), Patrik Elias ($3,800), Mike Ribeiro ($3,500)
Patrick Sharp ($6,200) – Lather, rinse, repeat. As we talk about so often in The Daily Fantasy Hockey Edge podcast, it’s always worth investing in the collateral production of the Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn combo, whether it’s Klingberg or Sharp. Sharp has a favorable matchup against the Canucks, having posted two goals and two assists with six SOG in two games against Vancouver this season. The Canucks are giving up the second-most DraftKings points to wings this season, so Sharp is sitting pretty and could benefit from his linemates as the Stars look to respond after a rare road defeat in Calgary.
Mike Cammalleri ($5,300) – You know all about Cammalleri’s success (23 points, 65 SOG in 24 games) and how the Devils have exceeded expectations, so let’s get right to the matchup at Carolina. The Devils’ power-play ranks tied for 10th in the NHL (20.2 percent) and faces a poor Hurricanes’ penalty kill, which is operating at a 74.5 clip (third-worst in League). Cammalleri, who anchors the top unit, could easily capitalize and exceed his strong DraftKings points per game average (3.8), which is tied for seventh-best among wings.
Justin Williams ($4,800) – Evgeny Kuznetsov is tied for fourth League-wide in even-strength scoring this season, and that has ignited Williams’ production. Williams, the 34-year-old postseason hero, presents a cheap stacking option on the road in Montreal against backup goalie Mike Condon. The veteran wing has 17 points and 61 SOG in 23 games this season, including goals in five of his past nine games.
Others to consider: Artemi Panarin ($5,700), Filip Forsberg ($5,600), Mike Hoffman ($5,500), Gustav Nyquist and/or Tomas Tatar ($5,100 each), Mikkel Boedker ($4,500), Kevin Hayes ($4,200)