Last night’s lineup was another decent one, however it really would have depended on where you went with Ryan Getzlaf missing the contest. Pivoting off Nick Ritchie would also have been a smart move in that case as he was no longer playing with Corey Perry at that point either. Perry had a nice two-goal game while Phil Kessel scored at low ownership, however it was unfortunate that Robin Lehner lost in a shootout which cost us some value at goalie. Let’s grab the best lineup of the young season on tonight’s short three-game slate!
C – Tyler Seguin (DAL) – $7,800 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 – Vladislav Namestnikov (TB) – $4,100 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 – Jamie Benn (DAL) – $8,000 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 – Alexander Radulov (DAL) – $6,100 vs. VGK
Probably saw this coming. Radulov is set for another productive campaign and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see him improve upon his 36 assists from a season ago with his new linemates this time around. I don’t expect him to improve upon his 147 shots last season, but a spot on the top power play unit as well as the top line should see his production increase nonetheless. The Stars’ top line will be chalk tonight, but I’m okay with eating it on a three-game slate.
W – Alex Killorn (TB) – $4,300 vs. FLA
While Killorn won’t skate with Namestnikov at even strength, he is likely to see power play minutes next to him this evening against the Panthers. Florida boasted a solid penalty kill last season, but something’s got to give tonight with Tampa Bay sporting one of the league’s top power plays as well. Nonetheless, Killorn saw a lot of ice time last season, averaging 18 minutes per game and fell just shy of the 20-goal plateau with 19 tallies on the season. He will see similar ice time this season on the team’s second line next to Tyler Johnson as well as the aforementioned power play opportunity.
W – Oliver Bjorkstrand (CLS) – $4,100 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.
D – Victor Hedman (TB) – $6,400 vs. FLA
Hedman is my pick to win the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman this season after making a statement with 16 goals and 72 points on 166 shots last season. Hedman also blocked 132 shots and played just short of 25 minutes per game on the Lighting blueline. Hedman also racked up 37 points with the man advantage last season and led the team with 33 power play assists. He will take another serious crack at the 70-point plateau again this season on a healthy Tampa Bay team.
D – Seth Jones (CLS) – $4,800 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 as they form a nice little mini-stack on tonight’s slate.
G – Ben Bishop (DAL) – $8,800 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.