The NHL season begins on Tuesday with two lopsided contests. The Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning host the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Pittsburgh will be without its top two centers Sidney Crosby (wrist) and Evgeni Malkin (knee). The second matchup features the expansion Seattle Kraken visiting the Vegas Golden Knights.
Here’s a look at some options to consider when constructing your NHL lineups on DraftKings for Opening Night.
Top Line Stacks
Lightning vs. Penguins
Ondrej Palat ($5,800) - Brayden Point ($7,300) - Nikita Kucherov ($8,000)
The Point-Kucherov duo has high-end chemistry and connected for 5.44 goals per 60 minutes during the 2019-20 campaign. Palat is a serviceable third wheel who quietly posted 46 points through 55 games last season, including 20 with the man advantage. Expect Pittsburgh to have trouble slowing down Tampa Bay’s No. 1 line.
Golden Knights vs. Kraken
Peyton Krebs ($2,500) - Nolan Patrick ($3,600) - Evgenii Dadonov ($3,900)
This is an encouraging line. While Krebs and Patrick are largely unproven to date at the highest level, both bring an offensive pedigree from the lower levels and were high draft selections. Additionally, Dadonov has three 25-goal showings on his resume. Look for the Patrick-Krebs-Dadonov line to also see a lot of soft five-on-five matchups with the Kraken likely focused on slowing down Vegas’ top two lines.
Superstar to Build Around
Steven Stamkos, TB vs. PIT ($5,900) - This is a manageable salary to target the proven scorer at. Stamkos is a high-volume shooter with 284 points — 118 goals — through 255 games the past four seasons. He’s also a nice addition to the noted Lightning line stack because he also skates with the No. 1 power-play unit.
Value on Offense
Reilly Smith, VGK vs. SEA ($4,000) - After scoring just 14 goals with an 11.3% shooting percentage last season, a rebound campaign from Smith shouldn’t surprise. He remains in an offensive role and has attempted a respectable 13.09 shots per 60 minutes over the past three seasons.
Ryan Donato, SEA at VGK ($2,700) - Despite his scoring ability and offensive talent, the 25-year-old forward hasn’t been able to establish himself as a two-six staple to date. Donato isn’t currently projected to fill that role with the Kraken, yet, either. Still, he’s a candidate to reward on his low salary. Donato probably won’t be a popular target Tuesday, either.
Andrei Vasilevskiy, TB vs. PIT ($8,000) - This salary isn’t prohibitive enough to fade Vasilevskiy. Even in the small player pool, and with the Russian likely the most popular option in net, there are ways to differentiate your lineup around him. As noted, the Penguins are missing their one-two punch down the middle, and Vasilevskiy has won 172 games with a .921 save percentage over the past five seasons.
Philipp Grubauer, SEA at VGK ($7,000) - Those looking for an affordable contrarian option could certainly turn to Grubauer. The Kraken could hang with Vegas in a low-scoring game, which would provide Grubauer with an opportunity to return value as the least expensive starting goalie Tuesday. There’s obviously risk attached to backing Grubauer and the Kraken, though.
Value on Defense
Mikhail Sergachev, TB vs. PIT ($3,400) - The 23-year-old defenseman focused on improving his shot and offensive game during the offseason. It wasn’t exactly an area of weakness, though. Considering Sergachev has topped 30 points in each of his first four full seasons in the league, this salary jumps out as a discount.
Carson Soucy, SEA at VGK ($2,600) - Near minimum salary, Soucy offers a modest floor in addition to the cap relief he provides. You’ll want to ensure he suits up for Opening Night, but as long as he’s in the lineup, the 27-year-old defenseman is a candidate to help in the peripheral categories. There’s also potential for Soucy to play career-high minutes, which raises his floor. Expectations still need to be kept in check, though.
Victor Hedman, TB vs. PIT ($6,300) - Another go-to option from the Lightning, Hedman has 130 power-play points over the past five seasons while also ranking fourth in points among defensemen last season. There’s also a high floor because of his shot volume and willingness to block shots.
Shea Theodore, VGK vs. SEA ($5,700) - The 26-year-old defenseman ranks second in shot attempts per 60 minutes among defensemen over the past two seasons and collected 88 points — 21 goals — through 124 games during the span. Just note, Theodore has been nursing an undisclosed injury, but he’s expected to suit up Tuesday. This salary is also probably a little short given Theodore’s excellent production over the past two years.
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