Although it’s a clean slate of NHL hockey ahead on this Monday, we don’t exactly have a huge schedule to sift through tonight as we have just two-games on tap.
That said, a slate is a slate and we will look to take advantage of some opportunities on this tiny Monday night slate.
Let’s dive right into tonight’s picks!
C – Nazem Kadri (TOR) – $6,200 vs. CGY
The Auston Matthews long-term injury is in now way a positive for the Maple Leafs as a team, but it’s going to open a big door of opportunity for Kadri as he moves up to the second line and will reportedly skate alongside Mitch Marner where he enjoyed plenty of success last season. Not is Kadri likely to skate alongside the Maple Leafs’ best playmaker, he’s also picked up his production as a whole of late with goals in each of his last two games. The veteran has scored 32 goals in each of his last two seasons when he played a top-six role, which is going to be the case as long as Matthews is sidelined. Being the second line center on a team that ranks third in league offense while also skating on a power play unit that ranks second in the league is going to give Kadri all the opportunity in the world to stay hot, beginning tonight against the Flames.
C – Mikko Koivu (MIN) – $4,600 vs. VAN
The Canucks started out pretty solid on the back end, result-wise anyway, however their poor possession numbers have caught up with them of late. The Canucks allowed five goals in a 5-0 loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday while they yielded four goals to the league-worst Coyotes offense and five more to the Capitals earlier in the week. It’s been a poor stretch of defensive hockey for Vancouver while they now rank 22nd in home defense on the season with 3.25 goals against per game. As mentioned, the Canucks are a poor possession team as they rank 28th with a 43.7% Corsi For% at even strength while they have been outshot by an average of nine shots per game, the third most in the league. Enter Koivu who is the team’s second line center at even strength while he skates on the power play on a team that spreads out the power play ice time evenly between their two units. The 35-year-old has two goals and four assists in nine games on the young season and has a nice road matchup tonight.
W – Mitch Marner (TOR) – $6,700 vs. CGY
Marner skated with John Tavares to begin the season, however the injury to Matthews has switched things up at Leafs practise. Kasperi Kapanen has been moved up a line to skate with Tavares on the top line while the trio of Kadri, Marner and Patrick Marleau, a line that finished last season together, will be reunited for the foreseeable future. Of course, Marner is off to a dominant start this season with four goals and 15 points in 11 games while he’s coming off his fifth multi-point game of the season on Saturday against the Jets where he notched a pair of assists in the comeback win. The Maple Leafs’ power play essentially runs through Marner which makes him a high-upside play more often than not when his names appears on a slate.
W – Zach Parise (MIN) – $6,500 vs. VAN
Parise was a trendy sleeper pick in fantasy circles this season thanks to his big-time production down the stretch and into the playoffs last year before breaking his sternum during the first round. For those who have taken a chance on Parise, he has not disappointed as he’s scored three times and added eight assists for 11 points in 10 games on the young season. Parise skates alongside the playmaking Koivu in all situations and he should rack up plenty of goals this season as a result. The 34-year-old veteran is also firing plenty of pucks on goal with 3.3 shots per game on the season, something that could certainly be exceeded against a Canucks team allowing plenty of shots this year. I like the upside of these Wild forwards in a favorable matchup tonight.
W – Sam Bennett (CGY) – $4,000 vs. TOR
Bennett has largely disappointed since being taken with the fourth overall pick in the 2014 draft by the Flames as he’s notched just 26 points in back-to-back seasons with a career-high of 36 set back in the 2015-16 campaign. That said, Bennett is being given an opportunity to turn things around as he’s skating on the Flames’ top line with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan as of late. Despite the uptick in ice time, Bennett has been held pointless in four straight games entering tonight’s contest, but has a decent matchup against a so-so Maple Leafs back end. Toronto ranks 19th in league defense while the Flames are the league’s 12th-ranked offense, a solid concoction for the cost-efficient Bennett to get on the scoresheet tonight.
D – Morgan Rielly (TOR) – $6,200 vs. CGY
Completing our three-man Maple Leafs stack is Rielly who forms an even strength and top power play unit stack with Kadri and Marner above. He has just one point over his last five games, but Rielly still has 14 points in 11 games this season, thanks in large part to that spot on the top power play unit where he’s recorded six of those 14 points. Rielly is shooting the puck more than ever this season with 36 shots in those 11 games, more than three per game with an average of two so far in his NHL career. Given the higher floor and the high ceiling thanks to his spot on that lethal power play, I like Rielly to complete our three-man Maple Leafs stack tonight.
D – Jared Spurgeon (MIN) – $4,300 vs. VAN
There are three defensemen worth rostering on the Wild tonight with Ryan Suter, Matt Dumba and Jared Spurgeon all viable options. I will go with the cheapest of the three while Spurgeon will have just as good of an opportunity as the other two. First, he skates with Dumba on what is technically labelled as the second power play unit, although it contains both Koivu and Parise. While Spurgeon sees the least amount of ice time per game as the other two, his five points on the season are the same amount Dumba has recorded while Suter sits with nine. Nonetheless, Spurgeon carries the most value upside of the trio given his price and his matchup against a weak back end this evening on the road.
G – Devan Dubnyk (MIN) – $8,100 vs. VAN
The Canucks got Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson back in their lineup on Saturday, but the Canucks were shutout at the hands of the Penguins and have now scored just five goals over their last four games. They came out of the gate rather hot to begin the season, but we need to keep in mind the Canucks have a young and mostly thin offense despite a couple of high-upside youngsters over the long-term. Young teams are going to struggle to score for stretches and the Canucks are mired in such a stretch right now. Enter Dubnyk who is off to a white-hot start to the campaign with a 1.96 GAA and a .945 Sv% across eight starts on the season. He’s allowed just three goals against in two road games this season, equating to a 1.51 GAA and a .958 Sv%. With the Wild listed as roughly -150 favorites in this one, I’ll take Dubnyk against a struggling offense.
UTIL – Dillon Dube (CGY) – $3,200 vs. TOR
Another low-cost, low-owned Flame for tonight’s contest against the Maple Leafs will be the rookie Dube who has a decent opportunity tonight despite skating on the third line. Major offseason free agent signee James Neal also skates on the team’s third line, giving Dube a very talented scorer to skate with tonight at even strength, although he will not likely see much power play time. He’s notched just a pair of assists in 10 games this season, but that’s precisely what will keep his ownership at a minimal level tonight. In terms of players left in this price range, I am liking Dube’s chances at production more than the rest of the bunch.