The beat goes on as daily fantasy hockey owners prepare for an eight-game slate of NHL action, which includes a few marquee inter-conference matchups (Stars-Lightning, Predators-Islanders, Blackhawks-Capitals). There have been a bunch of early surprises for better (i.e. Coyotes) or worse (i.e. Penguins), that have shaken up the DFS landscape. The theme of this night is that many DraftKings prices around the League have remained unaltered despite strong performances in recent days, so be sure to sort by fantasy points per game when building your lineup to find underpriced assets worth owning.
Roberto Luongo ($7,000) – Luongo has a favorable home matchup against the upstart but inconsistent Sabres and is my favorite goalie pick of the night for a number of reasons. The Panthers are rolling three lines deep in front of him, Luongo has allowed two goals on 72 shots faced in his two starts this season (.972 save percentage) and has dominated Buffalo in his career (14-6-0 with five shutouts). He was stingy at home last season (16-8-6, 2.17 goals-against average, .923 SV%) and is tied for the 15th most-expensive goalie in the contest.
Mike Smith ($5,800) – There’s no other way to slice it: you need to ride Smith for as long as this joyride lasts and his price remains insanely low. Smith pitched his first shutout of the season Wednesday on the road against the Ducks and the workhorse goalie could be in action again at home Thursday against the Wild. The ‘D’ in front of him has been suffocating, and Arizona has scored 10 goals in three games with youngsters Max Domi and Anthony Duclair revitalizing the franchise. Smith leads the contest with 9.9 DraftKings points per game over his 3-0-0 start, stopping 81 of 82 shots faced at even strength.
Others to consider: Scott Darling ($7,000), Cam Talbot ($6,600), Thomas Greiss ($6,400)
Kris Letang ($6,100) – It’s only a matter of time before the Penguins offense busts out, and Letang is their power-play marksman who promises to be involved once it finally does. He scored his first goal of the season Tuesday against the Canadiens and is playing 26-plus minutes a night — racking up shots on goal (15, most among defensemen) and blocked shots (seven). He’s one of the more expensive defenseman on the board but his team is long overdue for a power-play assault.
Alex Pietrangelo ($5,000) – Power-play anchor Kevin Shattenkirk is likely out Thursday against the Oilers, so expect to see Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko ($2,600) manning the blue line on St. Louis’ top power-play unit. Pietrangelo’s SOG volume is low (one in three games), but he has added two assists and five blocks in that span. If you don’t have room for a high-priced defenseman, Pietrangelo leads a nice group of value guys at his position who have similar fantasy ceilings as the top dogs Thursday.
John Klingberg ($4,500) – Dallas’ star-studded top power-play unit of Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Jason Spezza and Patrick Sharp needs some time to work out the kinks, but quarterback Klingberg holds the keys to the brand-new Corvette convertible. The Stars are an ordinary 3-for-13 so far in those situations (T-13th), but the Lightning’s struggling penalty kill (58.3 percent through four games, 29th in NHL) could be in for a rude awakening if Dallas finds its groove. After going shotless in his first two games, Klingberg pounded out four SOG, blocked three and assisted on a goal (5.5 DraftKings points) his last time out. For such a manageable price, he should be a constant in all your lineups.
Others to consider: Andrei Markov ($4,600), Matt Niskanen ($4,100), Rasmus Ristolainen ($3,500), Marek Zidlicky ($3,300), Colton Parayko ($2,600)
Kyle Turris ($5,900) – Turris is quietly becoming a consistent fantasy force, averaging 25 goals, 61 points and 215 SOG over his past two seasons. He’s tied for the most goals (four) and multipoint games (three) this season and is still relatively cheap. After a seven-goal outburst on the road in Columbus, Ottawa looks to feast on another suspect defense in Pittsburgh. Turris and linemate Mark Stone ($5,600) have formed the best point pair in the NHL (five team goals with each recording a point), and their third component Mike Hoffman ($5,000) is another DFS gem. You can get the whole line for $16,500.
Connor McDavid ($5,600) – The Oilers are still winless, but it will be refreshing for them to return home after as tough of a three-game road swing as you can draw to open your season ( St. Louis, Nashville, Dallas). McDavid has struggled in the faceoff circle but has covered blocked shots (three) and SOG (seven) through three games. Edmonton is charged up about the home debut of their latest top pick and hopeful savior. This will be the type of environment that could bring about a special performance from McDavid against the banged-up Blues, and you don’t even have to break the bank to take a chance on him.
Brandon Pirri ($4,500) – Pirri, like a number of fellow wings in action Thursday (i.e. Ryan Strome, Anders Lee, Craig Smith, Tyler Ennis), is still listed as a center in DraftKings. It makes it less convenient to stack him with linemate Nick Bjugstad ($6,100), but don’t let that deter you from drafting Pirri alone as your FLEX option. His goals-per-60 and SOG rates were outstanding last season, and he has three assists, one block and seven SOG in a second-line and second-unit power-play spot for the Panthers. He was one of my sleepers entering the season and I love what I’ve seen from him thus far.
Others to consider: Jason Spezza ($5,500), Paul Stastny ($4,900), Max Domi ($4,600), Ryan Strome ($4,600), Mikael Granlund ($4,000)
Max Pacioretty ($7,600) – Pacioretty continues to be worth the price of admission on a nightly basis in DraftKings. He’s the only player League-wide with two multigoal games this season, has at least a point in each of his first four games (four goals, two assists) and is tied for third in SOG (17 in four games). Pacioretty has been dynamite alongside Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher on the Habs’ top line, and he plays on both the power play and penalty kill — putting him in prime position regardless of the situation.
T.J. Oshie ($5,200) – Alex Ovechkin got a reality check after his phone alarm malfunction led to him being healthy scratched by Capitals coach Barry Trotz on Tuesday. Expect him to come out flying against the Blackhawks, who were just blanked by the Flyers and play for the second time in as many nights. Ovi’s linemates, Evgeny Kuznetsov ($5,100) and Oshie, could be along for the ride, so take advantage of these low prices. Oshie, who came over from the Blues via trade, is still seeking his first goal with Washington but is well overdue after nine SOG in his first two games.
Anthony Duclair ($2,900) – You can’t say enough about the chemistry between Duclair and center Martin Hanzal through these first three games. Duclair scored his first career hat trick Wednesday, the fourth player in the League to do so this season, and has a three-game point streak to start the season with six SOG and one block. Because of the next-day nature of this contest, Duclair’s price is still near the bottom of the barrel for Thursday against the Wild. The 20-year-old has been on the ice for seven team goals and only one allowed — for a team that most expected to be a bottom-feeder.
Others to consider: Patrick Sharp ($6,000), Jaromir Jagr ($5,000), Ondrej Palat ($4,800), David Perron ($4,400), Artemi Panarin ($3,700)