Not having any Blackhawks exposure definitely hurt last night’s lineup, however perhaps you did get some exposure as Ryan Getzlaf did not suit up for the season opener which would have required some lineup shuffling. Nonetheless we got two-goal games from Mika Zibanejad and Corey Perry which was certainly a good foundation for the lineup. Let’s put together a top-notch lineup for tonight’s three-game slate!
C – Tyler Seguin (DAL) – $7,400 vs. VGK
The Vegas Golden Knights will play their first ever game as a franchise this evening in Dallas, however I don’t see this being a pretty one for the NHL’s newest club. They will face a high-octane Dallas offense that got deeper in the offseason, so we will roll with a Stars stack here led by center Tyler Seguin. Seguin had a big season a year ago, ranking 16th with 72 points, however he also fired 301 pucks on net which had him ranked 4th in that category. Seguin will open the season alongside Jamie Benn and newcomer Alexander Radulov at even strength and on the power play as this could be one of the highest scoring lines in the league this season.
C – Nick Foligno (CLS) – $5,500 vs. NYI
Foligno bounced back with a real nice season last year as he recorded 26 goals on 185 shots on goal. Offensive production is likely on its way again this season as Foligno is set to center the team’s second line while also opening the season on the first power play unit. The Blue Jackets ranked 12th with a 19.9% power play last season, but it should get a boost with Artemi Panarin aboard so perhaps Foligno’s power play production picks up this season as well.
W – Jamie Benn (DAL) – $7,200 vs. VGK
An easy call here to include Benn in the Stars stack. Benn tallied 69 points last season, but I expect him to significantly improve on the 26 goals he scored with a big season this year. Benn should be able to get back to his goal scoring ways with the additional of Radulov who led the Montreal Canadiens in assists last season and helped Max Pacioretty net 35 goals as well. Benn narrowly cracked the 200-shot barrier last season with 201 shots on goal and will be a fixture on the top line and top power play unit again this season.
W – Vladislav Namestnikov (TB) – $4,900 vs. FLA
Namestnikov will open the season on the Lightning top line alongside Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov which is a fantastic opportunity for the young Russian. Namestnikov isn’t a big shooter, but he could blow past his 28 points from last season in short order should he remain on the top line. He will also have a great opportunity to improve on the three power play goals he scored last season alongside these two superstars with the man advantage, a group that ranked 6th with a 22.8% clip last season and 4th with a 24.2% clip on home ice.
W – Oliver Bjorkstrand (CLS) – $4,700 vs. NYI
I am looking for Bjorkstrand to take a nice step forward this season for a deep Blue Jackets club. Columbus was one of the league’s top offensive teams last season with 3.01 goals per game (6th) while Bjorkstrand chipped in 6 goals and 13 points across 26 games. Second line minutes as well as second unit power play minutes await Bjorkstrand, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him move up to the top unit at some point this season, possibly as soon as tonight. There is plenty of value to be had this evening against an Islanders team with weak goaltending a season after they ranked 23rd with 2.90 goals against per game. He and Nick Foligno could find some chemistry on that Blue Jackets second line.
D – Seth Jones (CLS) – $5,100 vs. NYI
Jones might not be the most offensively gifted blueliner for the Blue Jackets, as that designation belongs to sophomore Zach Werenski, but he could be their best overall defenseman and certainly has offensive upside. He recorded 42 points last season on 152 shots and 118 blocks and led the team with 23:24 of average ice time per game. Jones will actually line up next to Bjorkstrand on the Blue Jackets’ second power play unit so perhaps come chemistry evolves here as well.
D – Esa Lindell (DAL) – $3,500 vs. VGK
While Lindell won’t start the season on the Stars’ top power play unit, he will start the season on the team’s top defensive pairing next to John Klingberg. Lindell had a nice season last year with 18 points on 99 shots to go along with 119 blocks and he should certainly take another step forward this time around in his second season in the NHL. If the Stars do light up the Golden Knights tonight Lindell could provide big value at his attractive price.
G – Ben Bishop (DAL) – $8,400 vs. VGK
We don’t have any statistics to go off for the Golden Knights, but it’s a safe bet that they will not be an offensive powerhouse in their inaugural campaign. Bishop signed a big contract to lock down the goaltending situation in Dallas and after a tough season last year he is set up nicely for a bounce back campaign on a Stars team that should be much improved this season. He is just one season removed from a GAA near the 2.00 mark and could be the piece that puts the Stars over the top this season.
UTIL – Radek Faksa (DAL) – $3,300 vs. VGK
Faksa will appear as the team’s fourth line center to begin the season as a numbers game pushed him there due to the depth of this forward group. Faksa produced admirably with 12 goals and 33 points a season ago while recording 132 shots in the process. I could see him getting power play ice time at some point this season, but for now we will continue with our Stars exposure and roster the young pivot nonetheless.