We’re two weeks into the NHL season, and we already have a coaching change. John Tortorella was hired by the Blue Jackets on Wednesday to replace Todd Richards after the team’s shocking 0-7-0 start amidst high expectations. The DFS implications for Columbus’ players will be determined in the coming days and weeks, but it’s intriguing that DraftKings contests count scoring and blocked shots — the two areas that Tortorella will be tasked with improving on his new team.
He has had mixed success in the past dealing with superstars, but assumes his latest coaching job with a young core that has a ton of promise. From Ryan Johansen, 23, to Brandon Saad, 22, to the team’s leading blocker Ryan Murray, 22, there’s going to be a clean slate with more accountability than ever — and that’s healthy. Instead of trying to drill new habits into veterans, Torts can groom his youngsters the right way and have the others follow suit.
Tortorella’s much-anticipated debut for the Blue Jackets comes on the road Thursday against the Wild to lead an eight-game slate in the NHL. Here are some targets at each position to help you build a winning lineup.
Braden Holtby ($8,000) – The Capitals, unbeaten with Alex Ovechkin in the lineup this season, continue their road swing through Western Canada against the Canucks. After two shaky starts to open the season, Holtby has returned to his Vezina-contending form with four goals allowed over his next three starts and none allowed with opponents on the power play in that span. Vancouver is 0-1-2 at home this season and the Capitals have everything riding in their favor, from being the top-scoring team in the League to being tied for the second-best goal differential to being a top-five power-play unit yet again. Holtby should get support on the road and is worth spending up for in DraftKings.
Andrew Hammond ($7,100) – Hammond, the “The Hamburglar” who stole the show with a 20-1-2 run to lead the Senators to the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, gets his first start of 2015-16 against the Devils in the slam-dunk DFS matchup of the night. New Jersey has won two in a row, but runs into a thriving Ottawa offense that sports four players with more than a point per game (Erik Karlsson, Kyle Turris, Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman). Craig Anderson has a .924 save percentage this season, so Hammond will have to be at his best just to compete for playing time. I think he seizes the opportunity against the fifth lowest-scoring team in the NHL.
Others to consider: Pekka Rinne ($7,900), Henrik Lundqvist ($7,800), Devan Dubnyk ($7,200)
Kris Letang ($5,500) – Letang is one of only two defensemen with 10-plus blocked shots and 20-plus shots on goal this season, and busted out offensively Tuesday against the Florida Panthers with two assists. He’s averaging nearly as many DraftKings points per contest (4.2) as Erik Karlsson (4.4), who’s priced $1,200 higher. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have snapped out of their respective funks and Letang plays with both on the top power-play unit in Pittsburgh. The Pens were embarrassed by the Stars on opening night, so expect them to come out on top of a high-scoring affair in the rematch with Letang filling up the scoresheet this time around.
Brent Seabrook ($4,000) – Duncan Keith will miss 4-6 weeks after surgery to repair a meniscal tear in his right knee, so Seabrook is the fill-in guy who will be leaned on in all situations — including the top man-advantage unit with Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and explosive rookie Artemi Panarin. He blocks shots (eight in six games), shoots a bunch (11) and should see an uptick in offensive production along with Trevor Daley ($3,400). You can’t go wrong with him on your blue line considering his price is 25th at his position.
Others to consider: Keith Yandle ($5,000), John Klingberg ($4,500), Matt Dumba ($3,600), Trevor Daley ($3,400), Ryan Murray ($3,000)
Kyle Turris ($5,900) – Turris and his underpriced linemates have a chance to feast on the Devils at home Thursday. He had two assists his last time out, marking his fourth multipoint game of the season — tied for the NHL lead with none other than Mark Stone. He has at least one SOG in all six of his games and at least a point in four of the six. The Senators are well-rested, having not played since Oct. 17, so expect a fresh group to take care of business.
Evgeny Kuznetsov ($5,100) – The Capitals have a great thing going with Kuznetsov sticking alongside Alex Ovechkin at even-strength and then Nicklas Backstrom ($6,500), who returned last weekend from injury and is playing with Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams at 5-on-5, alongside Ovi on the power play. Kuznetsov notched three assists on the road against the Flames on Tuesday, his second multipoint game of the season, and is one of the best value stacking options out there with right wing T.J. Oshie ($5,700; 5.0 DraftKings points per game).
Others to consider: Ryan Johansen ($6,100), Aleksander Barkov ($5,700), Marcus Johansson ($4,600), Martin Hanzal ($4,300), Mikko Koivu ($4,300)
James Neal ($6,000) – Neal is as streaky as they come in DFS, but boy is he lethal when he’s hot. Neal has five goals in his past three games with five-plus SOG in each playing alongside Mike Fisher and Filip Forsberg on the Predators’ restructured top line. He’s tied for 10th in price among wings but is fourth in terms of DraftKings points per game at his position behind only Alex Ovechkin ($9,200), Zach Parise ($7,900) and Jamie Benn ($7,700). Look at those steep price tags and it’s clear where the value lies in this contest.
Anthony Duclair ($4,100) – Some may have forgotten that Duclair was a Rangers prospect who played 18 games for New York last season — and pretty well for that matter. After being traded to Arizona in the Yandle package, Duclair storms into Madison Square Garden on Thursday as one of the League’s top rookies. He has at least a point in five of his first six games, two power-play goals alongside Max Domi ($5,300) and affordable Martin Hanzal ($4,300) in those situations. He ranks fourth in Shot Attempts Relative percentage (minimum five games) and is among the points and goals per 60 minutes leaders. As long as his price remains unaltered, he’s a no-brainer every night out.
Others to consider: T.J. Oshie ($5,700), Mark Stone ($5,600), Mike Hoffman ($5,100), Artemi Panarin ($4,600), Matt Nieto ($3,600), Jesper Fast ($2,700)