There are five games in the NHL on Wednesday with the Avalanche, Maple Leafs and Oilers all notable favorites on DraftKings Sportsbook. However, the injury-riddled Penguins proved Tuesday that early-season upsets should surprise. Additionally, there are a number of household names missing their opening games, including Auston Matthews (wrist), Nathan MacKinnon (COVID-19), Nicklas Backstrom (hip), Carey Price (personal/knee) and Mark Scheifele (suspension) to name a few.
Top Line Stacks
Oilers vs. Canucks
Zach Hyman ($5,900) - Connor McDavid ($8,300) - Jesse Puljujarvi ($4,400)
The proven chemistry between McDavid and Puljujarvi should match well with Hyman’s game. McDavid and Puljujarvi clicked for 4.71 goals per 60 minutes last season, and the Canucks surrendered the third most high-danger scoring chances and sixth-most goals per hour. Vancouver made a number of notable changes during the offseason, but even with improved defensive play, the Canucks will probably remain a favorable matchup most nights.
Rangers at Capitals
Artemi Panarin ($7,100) - Ryan Strome ($4,600) - Kaapo Kakko ($3,300)
There’s an excellent combination of upside and value with New York’s second line. Panarin ranks second in the league in points per 60 minutes over the past two seasons, and the trio clicked for a respectable 4.22 goals per 60 last season over 142:04 of shared ice time.
Superstar to Build Around
Patrick Kane, CHI at COL ($7,000) - A potential contrarian target, Kane’s salary is reasonable, and he could fly under the radar with so much star power in the player pool. The Avalanche should probably also be considered a daunting opponent after finishing last season with the third-fewest goals against per game. Still, Kane ranks sixth in points and fifth in shots over the past three seasons, so the upside is there.
Value on Offense
Cole Caufield, MON at TOR ($4,900) - This is a reasonable salary to target Caufield at. He flashed his upside at the end of last season and through the playoffs with a respectable eight goals, nine assists, 78 shots and 146 attempts through 30 games. He could fly slightly under the radar, too.
Nick Ritchie, TOR vs. MON ($3,900) - There obviously shouldn’t be too much stock put into preseason statistics, but Ritchie scored three goals on 16 shots and 20 attempts through three games and is projected to skate on the No. 1 line with John Tavares and Mitch Marner on Wednesday. Montreal also has a lot of unknowns with veterans Shea Weber (ankle) and Carey Price (knee/personal) out of the lineup.
Connor Hellebuyck, WPG at ANH ($7,900) - The Ducks scored the fewest goals per 60 minutes in the league last season, and Hellebuyck boasts a .920 save percentage over the past two years. Additionally, the Jets are favorites, and Hellebuyck’s salary doesn’t break the bank.
Igor Shesterkin, NYR at WAS ($7,600) - There’s no denying Shesterkin’s upside, and the Capitals could even be without captain Alex Ovechkin due to a lower-body injury. Shesterkin also allowed two goals or fewer in 19 of 35 appearances last season, so while there is still a little blow-up potential, it’s built into his salary.
Value on Defense
Neal Pionk, WPG at ANH ($5,000) - After recording 25 power-play points in his debut season with the Jets, Pionk was relegated to the No. 2 unit for most of last season. He’s projected to return to the top unit to start this season, which should skyrocket Pionk’s fantasy value. Add his willingness to block shots and the should-be favorable matchup against Anaheim, and he’s a solid target from his salary range Wednesday.
Rasmus Sandin, TOR vs. MON ($2,500) - At the minimum salary, Sandin is a potential flier. He should see plenty of offensive zone starts and favorable five-on-five matchups while also receiving secondary power-play time. While expectations should probably be kept in check, Sandin is expected to take a notable step forward this season. The cap relief alone is valuable.
Cale Makar, COL vs. CHI ($6,600) - The 22-year-old star paces all defensemen in points per 60 minutes over the past two seasons and should continue seeing prime offensive minutes in 2021-22. Maker recorded 22 power-play points while averaging 4:11 of ice time with the man advantage last year. Expect him to be a popular target, though.
Tyson Barrie, EDM vs. VAN ($5,900) - The relocation to Edmonton was a smashing success for Barrie. He finished second in points per 60 minutes among defensemen while racking up 23 power-play points quarterbacking Edmonton’s potent No. 1 unit. This salary probably doesn’t match Barrie’s upside, either, as he’s an affordable addition to an Oilers stack.
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