This nine-game Thursday night has no shortage of storylines, from Sidney Crosby vs. Nathan MacKinnon to a Stanley Cup Playoff rematch between the Rangers and Lightning to a matchup of two of the League’s best offenses in the Stars and Capitals. There are not too many line changes to capitalize on from earlier in the week, so it’s important to establish a strong foundation in your goalie and defensemen plays before rolling out a fresh group of forwards with a ton of high-floor line stacks to choose from. Here are the best targets at each position:
Martin Jones ($7,100) – The Sharks are quietly the third-best road team in the NHL and their new starting goalie has a lot to do with it. He is 7-1-0 away from home with a .929 save percentage. He faces the Flyers, who have a sub-.500 record (3-4-2) at their own barn, are scoring a mere 1.89 goals per game (second worst in NHL) and converting on only 14.8 percent of their power-play chances (T-5th worst). Jones is affordable in DraftKings, tied for 14th on the goalie price scale.
Roberto Luongo ($7,700) – Luongo at home is one of my favorite DFS plays to recommend because he’s just so steady at BB&T Center. His 5-3-0 home record is solid, but his .936 home save percentage is tied for second League-wide behind only Henrik Lundqvist (.944). He’s averaging 5.1 DraftKings points per contest this season and is priced $400 cheaper than Lundqvist, who’s on the road in Tampa Bay, and $200 cheaper than Braden Holtby, who will be on the second leg of a back-to-back if he starts against Dallas. Florida is averaging nearly three goals per game at home this season (25 goals in 9 games) and is the second-best home power-play team in the NHL (33.3 percent), so Luongo will get support more nights than not and is worth spending up for.
Others to consider: Henrik Lundqvist ($8,100), Marc-Andre Fleury ($7,700), Jake Allen ($7,300)
John Klingberg ($5,500) – Washington is on the second leg of a back-to-back, so don’t be surprised to see the flood gates open up in this offensive showdown — especially if Philipp Grubauer starts. Klingberg, as I’ve hammered home so often this season, quarterbacks the top-ranked offense in the NHL (3.58 goals per game) and vaunted first power-play unit for Dallas with Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Patrick Sharp and Jason Spezza, which is a big reason why he leads all defensemen in multipoint games (six) and power-play points (10) this season. He has eight points in 10 road games this season and, while he isn’t a strong shot-blocker (18 in 19 games), he’s averaging close to two shots on goal per game (37 in 19 games; 1.9) and is a must-draft player in all contests. He’s the eighth-most expensive defenseman in DraftKings and $1,700 cheaper than Erik Karlsson ($7,200) with the same ceiling.
Rasmus Ristolainen ($4,600) – Another one of my favorites, Ristolainen proved how valuable he has become when his four-game point streak ended Tuesday against the Stars. He still churned out three DraftKings points because of his four blocked shots and two SOG. At $4,600, he’s a no-brainer considering he ranks seventh among ‘D’ in DraftKings points per contest and is priced outside the top 20 at his position. This will be a big test for Ristolainen against the stingy Blues, but he should be up for the challenge with six points, 19 SOG and 15 blocks in seven road games this season.
Others to consider: Oliver Ekman-Larsson ($5,400), Aaron Ekblad ($4,900), Kevin Shattenkirk ($4,700), Dennis Seidenberg ($3,000), Shayne Gostisbehere ($2,700)
Joe Pavelski ($7,500) – Crosby, MacKinnon and Tyler Seguin ($9,000) have the attention-grabbing names among centers but Pavelski has been as consistent as anyone this season on the road with six goals and six assists in 10 such games. He’s also averaging more than three SOG per game away from home (31 in 10) with 19 blocks on the season (T-8th among forwards). He’ll be everywhere on the ice and play in all situations against Philadelphia, who’s allowing the second-most DraftKings points to centers this season.
Patrice Bergeron ($6,300) – Bergeron leads the NHL in power-play points (11), has at least a point in 13 of 17 games this season and is fourth among centers in DraftKings points per contest despite being priced well below Seguin and cheaper than Crosby, Claude Giroux, Ryan Getzlaf and Nicklas Backstrom — each of whom he has outperformed this season. He is playing with inconsistent wings at the moment so this isn’t a safe stack, but I would advise rolling out Bergeron on his own against the Wild, who are allowing more than three goals per game on the road (30 in 9 games).
Vladislav Namestnikov ($2,900) – All signs are pointing to the Rangers having a field day against the banged-up Lightning, but Namestnikov is a strong contrarian play in an elevated role alongside Steven Stamkos for a price near the bottom of the barrel. The 22-year-old had two goals Nov. 13 against the Panthers and has eight points on the season despite only 11:43 of ice time per game. He’s among the top 50 League-wide in goals per 60 minutes (minimum 15 games played) and his numbers and production should only improve alongside one of the best centers in the game in the short-term.
Others to consider: Ryan Johansen ($5,500), Aleksander Barkov ($5,200), David Backes ($4,600), Martin Hanzal ($4,400), Boone Jenner ($4,200), Rickard Rakell ($3,300)
Brandon Saad ($5,900) – Saad is tied with the red-hot Mats Zuccarello ($5,400) for 11th League-wide in goals per 60, but has significantly more SOG on the season (52) than the Rangers wing (36). Saad, arguably the game’s best 23-or-under power forward, has nine goals (T-7th) with five on the power play (T-4th) and has come into his own in helping the Blue Jackets rebound with points in six of his past eight games and three multipoint efforts in that span. He also has three or more SOG in six of his past seven games. The new line configuration with Johansen ($5,500) and Jenner ($4,200) is a dream trio in terms of size and skill that has high upside against the Senators, who are allowing three goals per game this season (tied for sixth most in NHL).
Brendan Gallagher ($5,900) – As much as I love Saad in this matchup, I would also make room for Gallagher — one of the most undervalued fantasy assets in the League who’s going for the same low price. He’s among the top 20 in scoring (17 points in 19 games) and averages 4.1 DraftKings points per contest, fifth-most among wings behind only elite, higher-priced options in Alex Ovechkin ($9,600), Jamie Benn ($8,200), Vladimir Tarasenko ($7,700) and linemate Max Pacioretty ($8,100). He’s in the midst of a five-game point streak and the Coyotes allow the fourth-most DraftKings points to wings.
Mikkel Boedker ($4,100) – The Canadiens play Thursday against the Coyotes before they open up a difficult stretch against the Islanders (two), Rangers (one) and Devils (two). There’s a chance they could overlook Arizona here, as many home teams have this season. Only six teams have more road goals than the pesky Coyotes, and Mike Condon has allowed three-plus goals in each of his past three outings. Boedker has been dominant away from home with 10 points and 28 SOG in 11 road games, and is back with his original linemates Antoine Vermette ($3,100) and Max Domi ($5,400) at even strength. He’s the only forward in the NHL seeing more than five minutes per game with the man advantage, so prime scoring chances will be there for Boedker. This is a cheap, against-the-grain play with many indications that Boedker could have a big night.
Others to consider: Patrick Sharp ($6,200), Bobby Ryan ($5,500), Mats Zuccarello ($5,400), Jaromir Jagr ($5,500), Beau Bennett ($2,800)