It has been a pretty even slate of NHL action this week as tonight marks the second time in three nights we have had a seven-game slate, with the exception being a six-game slate a night ago. Although tonight’s slate is a little shy of what we have come to expect for a Thursday there is still plenty of opportunities to win some money and have some fun in the process. Let’s get at it!
C – Connor McDavid (EDM): $8,000
McDavid is enduring the toughest stretch of the season as he has recorded just five points over his last nine games. However, players of his caliber don’t slump for very long. Even still, McDavid’s 43 points are tied for the league lead with Evgeni Malkin and his 114 shots on goal rank in the NHL’s top 25. Although the Bruins surrender just 2.40 goals per game their defense can be suspect as times and after a quiet stretch of games it is about time we see #97 back on the scoresheet.
C – Tyler Johnson (TB): $5,400
With Steven Stamkos sidelined the line known as “the triplets” have been doing a great deal of the heavy lifting for the Lightning. Johnson has been right in the middle of that as he has recorded two multi-point efforts in his last four contests. The Lightning score 3.05 goals per game on home ice and own the league’s 4th ranked home power play at 25.3%. He takes on a Predators team tonight who yields 3.12 goals per game on the road.
W – Leon Draisaitl (EDM): $5,900
Draisaitl has been reunited with McDavid on the Oilers’ top line for tonight’s game against the Bruins. There was a stretch of games in December where the two were paired and Draisaitl thrived. I am looking for more of the same from the duo tonight as the Oilers juggle their lines once again. Leon is having an under-the-radar solid season with 33 points in 39 games while firing 91 pucks on goal. He and McDavid should approach 22 minutes in ice time tonight in all situations for the Oilers.
W – Artemi Panarin (CHI): $7,200
Panarin and the Blackhawks enter play tonight with a very favorable matchup on their hands. The lowly Sabres visit the Madhouse on Madison tonight having lost nine straight contests to the Blackhawks. Chicago has tallied at least three goals in seven of those nine games. Panarin sits with 39 points in 40 games entering play tonight which is actually two more points than linemate and last year’s Art Ross winner Patrick Kane. Regardless, the Panarin-Kane-Anisimov line should be able to get on the board tonight so make sure to have at least a piece of that line.
W – Frank Vatrano (BOS): $3,800
Vatrano is going to be a goal scorer in this league very soon. The fact he scored 36 goals and 55 points in 36 games for Providence of the AHL last season is a good starting point. After scoring twice in as many games on a rehab stint for Providence this season he was summoned for presumably the remainder of the campaign by the Bruins. He has scored twice and added two helpers in six games in Boston and has moved up to the team’s second line next to David Krejci and will also see reps on the team’s second power play unit.
D – Duncan Keith (CHI): $5,100
Keith has never been a big goal-scorer from the blueline in his NHL career, however even his 1.2% shooting percentage is well under his career 4.7% mark. He has just one goal on 85 shots this season but his 25 assists ranks second among defenseman behind Victor Hedman of the Lightning. Something that could aid Keith tonight: special teams. Buffalo has the league 28th ranked penalty kill on the road at a measly 72.3% and the Blackhawks can be a lethal bunch on that top unit despite their 12th ranked home power play.
D – Mirco Mueller (SJ): $2,500
To be completely honest this was a salary-related decision. In order to fit in a lineup with plenty of firepower I had to draft someone at the minimum. Mueller has played just one game this season for the Sharks and managed a shot on goal and a blocked shot, but the good news is any production from this guy has value at this price. He does have eight points in 25 AHL games this season so he isn’t completely unfamiliar with the scoresheet.
G – Peter Budaj (LA): $7,900
On paper Budaj and the Kings have an excellent matchup tonight at home against the Red Wings. First, Budaj has rattled off eight straight games in which he has allowed two goals or less. Second, the Red Wings have struggled immensely on the offensive front this season and they enter play tonight with a road power play that is sitting at 3.6%. Lastly, Detroit is playing on back-to-back nights tonight after being shut out by the Ducks last night in Anaheim. I would roll Budaj with confidence tonight.
*Update* Kings’ backup Jeff Zatkoff appears to be starting in goal tonight. I am comfortable rolling with him in this spot, but would recommended Corey Crawford (CHI) or Jake Allen (STL) if you can find room for them in your lineup.
UTIL – Vladislav Namestnikov (TB): $4,200
With the opportunities that Namestnikov gets in a top-six role with the Lightning I would like to see him have more than four goals and 14 points through 35 games. However, positive regression could be forthcoming. Namestnikov’s shooting percentage of 7.8% is well shy of his career mark of 13%. While he doesn’t shoot the puck a ton with 51 on the year there is better puck luck coming his way. He will skate on the team’s second line tonight as well as the team’s second power play unit.