Well it appears the Maple Leafs were the only group to hold up their end of the bargain in last night’s lineup. Auston Matthews had a goal and two assists while Patrick Marleau bagged two goals in his Leafs debut. Unfortunately Martin Jones was lit up by the Flyers which put a nail in the lineup’s coffin. With eight games on tonight’s slate let’s see who we will be targeting this evening.
C – Ryan Getzlaf (ANH) – $7,000 vs. ARI
Getzlaf is probable to play in tonight’s game, and if he does, he has a fantastic matchup against the visiting Coyotes. Arizona was one of the worst defensive teams in the league last season and should rank near the bottom again this time around. Getzlaf will center the top line next to Corey Perry and Nick Ritchie after recording 73 points in 74 games last season. Perry should have a bounce back season, so let’s ride the Ducks as they take on a Coyotes team that ranked 28th in goals against per game and 27th in penalty killing last season.
C – Mika Zibanejad (NYR) – $5,900 vs. COL
With Derek Stepan traded to the Arizona Coyotes in the offseason, it’s Zibanejad that will take over first line center duties as well as first unit power play duties. Prior to being injured last season, Zibanejad was having an excellent season, posting 15 points through his first 19 games. With an entire summer to get healthy and strong again Zibanejad is set up perfectly for a career year. He could very well see over 18 or 19 minutes per game for the Rangers tonight against an Avalanche team that ranked last with 3.37 goals per game and 29th with a 76.6% clip on the penalty kill last season.
W – Corey Perry (ANH) – $5,900 vs. ARI
We are getting Perry at a soft price here on opening night for the Ducks. While he scored just 19 goals last season, Perry scored at least 33 goals in every non-lockout season since the 10’/11’ campaign. In fact, Perry recorded the same amount of shots (215) last season than he did in the previous year where he scored 34 goals, the only difference is his shooting percentage fell to a career-low 8.8% last season. Looking for a big bounce back from the former Hart Trophy winner beginning tonight against the Coyotes.
W – Nick Ritchie (ANH) – $3,900 vs. ARI
After a solid rookie campaign that saw him score 14 goals on 149 shots, Ritchie could take a nice step forward in his sophomore campaign. Playing on the top line and top power play unit alongside Getzlaf and Perry could give Ritchie’s solid numbers from last season a big boost this season. Given the Coyotes’ poor back end and poor penalty kill Ritchie brings plenty of value to the table at a sub-4K price tonight.
W – Pavel Buchnevich (NYR) – $4,700 vs. COL
Like Zibanejad, Buchnevich’s season was derailed by injuries last year and limited him to only 41 games. He did record almost a half point per game in his rookie season with 20 points in those 41 games and is likely to start the season on Zibanejad’s wing both at even strength and on the power play. He has plenty of pro experience after a few seasons in the KHL prior to joining the Rangers last year, so he is certainly more seasoned than your typical 22-year-old. He should see his production jump along with his opportunity this season.
D – Kevin Shattenkirk (NYR) – $5,200 vs. COL
The Rangers are a nice look tonight as they play host to the Colorado Avalanche. Shattenkirk returns home to his native New York and could be in for a nice season atop the Rangers defensive chart alongside Ryan McDonagh. He will certainly take over the first unit power play spot as the lone defenseman of the group. Shattenkirk posted 13 goals last season (eight on the power play) to go along with 43 assists, 161 shots and 95 blocks. He is set for another productive season in Ranger blue, beginning tonight against an Avalanche team that ranked dead last with 3.37 goals against per game last season.
D – Cam Fowler (ANH) – $5,400 vs. ARI
Fowler scored a career-high 11 goals last season while his 39 points fell one short of the 40 he tallied in his rookie season back in the ‘10/’11 season. His 24:51 average ice time per game was easily the highest of his career as he cemented himself as the team’s number one defenseman. More than a third of his points came with the man advantage last season while his 186 shots on goal blew past his previous career high of 123. He is the quarterback of the team’s top power play group so this four-man stack could be extremely successful with a big night from the Ducks’ big guns.
G – Robin Lehner (BUF) – $7,300 vs. MON
There are some elite goalies on tonight’s slate, but I will fade the chalk and go all the way down to Robin Lehner. Lehner had a decent season last year, posting a .920 save percentage, a figure that was actually higher than the likes of Corey Crawford at .918. The Sabres will take on a Canadiens team tonight that I expect to struggle offensively this season. Montreal has very little scoring depth up front and scored just 2.46 goals per game on the road last season. He isn’t the safest bet on the board, but he has nice upside in front of what should be an improved Sabres team this season.
UTIL – Jakub Vrana (WAS) – $4,600 vs. OTT
Vrana has a nice opportunity ahead of him as he embarks on his rookie season tonight in Ottawa. After three seasons of quality AHL production and a 21-game stint in Washington last season, Vrana is set to skate on the Capitals’ top line tonight next to Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Certainly a nice spot to be to open the season and he could be a nice play moving forward if he is able to handle the task. He scored 35 goals over his last 85 AHL games, so it will be interesting to see if the first line minutes can help him keep up the goal-scoring he displayed in the AHL.