There are six games on the NHL schedule Thursday, and the player pool has many affordable options. Just one skater and three goalies are priced over $8,000, so owners might not need to spend their entire budget to get a well-rounded team. With the exception of the Florida Panthers back in action, all the best teams in the League are off tonight. It’s difficult to nail down which players are likely to flourish due to plenty of even matchups featuring many low-scoring teams, but here are some options who you should consider targeting.
Martin Jones – SJS vs. NJD – $7,500 – When selecting a goaltender, it’s sometimes more important to understand how likely a respective opposing goalie is to lose than it is to predict how well your choice will perform. With the San Jose Sharks hosting the New Jersey Devils on Thursday, owners should know that Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid is 1-1-0 with a 3.25 goals-against average, while receiving an average of just 2.25 goals in support over his past four appearances. But, full credit should still be given to Jones, as the Sharks goalie has won four straight games with a 1.50 goals-against average and is closing in on 40 wins in his first season as an NHL starting goaltender.
Roberto Luongo – FLA vs. OTT – $8,300 – Most of the recent numbers would suggest Luongo is an expensive risk against the visiting Ottawa Senators, but none of the cheaper options tonight have very much to offer. Although Jones is the best value, taking Luongo at home is a relatively safe choice. Luongo has done well at BB&T Center this season with a 17-7-2 record and a 2.33 GAA in 28 games.
Others to Consider: Tuukka Rask ($8,600), Robin Lehner ($7,400), Cam Talbot ($7,000)
Brent Burns – SJS vs. NJD – $8,200 – The situation is right for owners to splurge on the NHL defensive leader in goals (24) and shots on goal (284), as the Sharks host the low-scoring Devils. The Sharks top defender will try to extend his point streak to six with nine points (four goals, five assists), six blocked shots and 24 SOG over the past five games. While all hot streaks must come to an end, it’s tough to say if that will occur against New Jersey. Burns has 27 points (9 goals, 18 assists) and 133 SOG in 29 home games this season and has averaged a point per game in 28 games played this season after having one day of rest.
Mike Green – DET vs. WPG – $4,900 – If owners are going to blow a bunch of money on Burns as their top defender, then they will want to choose a cheaper option like Green to fill out the second defender spot. The Red Wings depth defenseman sees enough time on the power play and has been heating up recently which should justify the value pick against the Jets. Green has five assists, four blocked shots and four SOG in the past four games and has 27 points (eight goals, 17 assists) and 114 SOG in 43 career games against Winnipeg.
Others to Consider: P.K. Subban ($6,200), Rasmus Ristolainen ($5,800), Marc-Edouard Vlasic ($5,100), John-Michael Liles ($3,900)
Jack Eichel, C – BUF vs. MTL – $6,000 – Taking a mid-priced player like the Sabres rookie may be necessary if owners spend most of their cash on a defender and a goalie, but Eichel should provide a great return on investment against the Montreal Canadiens. The NHL leader among rookies with 204 SOG through 68 games, Eichel will try to extend his point streak to five games Thursday. The budding superstar has also been good against the Habs this season with two assists, two blocked shots and five SOG in three games.
Taylor Hall, LW – EDM vs. MIN – $6,600 – Respective team point leaders usually carry a hefty price tag but that is not the case with Hall. Although the Oilers continue to remain toward the bottom of the Western Conference standings, it is certainly not due to a lack of effort by Hall. The first pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, Hall, leads Edmonton with 22 goals, 35 assists, 57 points and 249 SOG through 69 games this season. The best part about playing fantasy sports is that the performance of an entire team doesn’t necessarily matter as long as the player you choose gets the job done. Hall has been one of the few bright spots on a perpetually struggling Edmonton team for the past six seasons, and owners should not hesitate taking him against Minnesota tonight.
Others to Consider: Aleksander Barkov ($6,300), Patrick Marleau ($5,800), Jaromir Jagr ($5,400), Tomas Plekanec ($4,700)