The Golden Knights are coming off a big home win a couple of nights ago but they didn’t exactly blow the doors off the expansion Kraken. Vegas allowed three unanswered goals and blew a 3-0 lead before getting bailed out at the end of the game. The Kings come into 2021-22 with a revamped roster that includes added depth on the wing and backend in the form of Viktor Arvidsson and Alex Edler. Cal Petersen, who has a career .916 save percentage, looks slated to get the start here and also looks poised to take a step forward this season. The big plus money is worth taking on for the home team.
The Blue Jackets are another team with a revamped roster that we should think about chasing early in the season. They still have question marks in net but added a veteran all-around presence in Jakub Voracek and have some young players who should help contribute to what was a lackluster offense last season. A bounceback year from Patrik Laine is also on the table and that, more than anything, makes them a good value proposition early as they get discounted for their poor 2020 season. They’re playing the Coyotes, who feature one of the worst goalie tandems in the league and could be playing their last season in Arizona. The Blue Jackets are clearly the better team and betting they show it early by taking the puck line is worth it at these big odds.
Top Line Stack
Florida Panthers Power Play vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Alex Barkov ($7,400) - Sam Reinhart ($6,200) - Aaron Ekblad ($5,800)
The Florida Panthers’ power play looks like a great DFS target in their home opener. They enter the slate with an implied team total of 3.8 goals, which is the largest on the slate. Despite the Penguins winning on night one, they still featured a bottom-10 penalty-kill in 2020-21 and enter this season with both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin out. The Panthers have a solid top-line to target with a dominant center in Alex Barkov, who plays upwards of 22 minutes per game, and a couple of wingers we can pick and choose from to pair him with.
Sam Reinhart is coming off a career year with the lowly Sabres and should be thrilled to be installed beside one of the top centers in the league. His 2.4 SOG/per game rate is solid enough but will be getting minutes on both the top-line and PP1 for Florida, which makes him the preferred winger option for stacking. Given the weak special teams by Pittsburgh, using Aaron Ekblad on defense, who has averaged just under 3.0 SOG and nearly 1.0 blocked shots per game over the last year, is preferred. Ekblad is reasonably priced and will see tons of correlation with the top line on the power-play. Target this Panthers stack for night three as they have plenty of upside against a thin Penguins team who is bound to struggle against stronger teams out of the gate.
Superstar to Target
John Tavares, Toronto Maple Leafs at Ottawa Senators ($7,600)
Tavares had a slow start in game one against the Canadiens, going for just 4.0 SOG and zero points. The situation for Tavares early in the year with Auston Matthews out is a good one to target though, especially against weaker competition like the Senators. The Maple Leafs enter this game with a 3.7 goal implied team total, which is the second biggest on the slate, and they will be facing the Senators, who gave up the fifth-most shots against last season and the 9th most quality scoring chances.
Tavares may not be the prolific goal scorer Matthews is but his opportunity to be in on all the top-line minutes projects him as an elite producer for fantasy purposes where he was already a solid play, averaging 2.9 SOG over the last 12 months. The price isn’t outlandish, despite having such a weak opponent, and Tavares seems destined for at least one multiple-point night before his teammate returns to take away some of his opportunities.
Value on Offense
Jonathan Drouin, Montreal Canadiens at Buffalo Sabres ($3,500)
The Canadiens’ second-line produced off the top for fantasy purposes on night one and they look like they’ll be a good source of value going forward. Jonathan Drouin is coming off a nightmare season but looked rejuvenated skating alongside Josh Anderson and Christian Dvorak and has the skills to make his salary look ridiculous early in the year. He should continue to get plenty of ice-time (he skated over 17 minutes in the first game) and power-play exposure against a Sabres team who ranked second-last in shots against in 2020 and sixth last in penalty-kill efficiency.
Patrik Laine, Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Arizona Coyotes ($4,300)
Laine is another player who could be ready for a bounce-back type of season and we’re certainly getting a bargain bin price to take chances with him early in the season. Laine projects as the top winger for the Blue Jackets on both the power-play one and their top-line while also getting to work in a new system under Brad Larsen. That last point is likely the biggest thing to focus on here as Laine managed just 10 goals in 45 games with the Blue Jackets last season. He faces a Coyotes squad who features one of the worst goaltending duos in the league and has given up the eighth-most scoring chances against since the start of the 2020-21 season.
Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers vs. Dallas Stars ($7,900)
Shesterkin is likely to get the start in game two for the Rangers, who are set as smaller -135 favorites against the Stars. The goalie had an up and down 2020-21 season but still managed a .916 save percentage and two shutouts in 35 games. The Stars aren’t a pushover opponent, but Shesterkin is more affordable than the heavy favorites and is playing a team in Dallas that is coming off a poor year and has one of the weakest goaltending duos in the league. The Rangers deserve to be the favorite and should be coming in angry after getting blown out in game one. Shesterkin has the upside to produce a monster game in this spot.
Philipp Grubauer, Seattle Kraken at Nashville Predators ($7,400)
If you’re looking for value then going back to the Seattle Kraken net isn’t a bad idea for game two. Philipp Grubauer didn’t have a great opening night for the Kraken but he did settle in eventually and remains quite cheap for night two. The Vezina finalist from last season is playing in front of a much different team this season but the Kraken may also get some more players back from a COVID-19 outbreak before tonight’s game. Nashville is hardly an offensive powerhouse and featured the eighth-worst power-play in the league last season. Grubauer makes sense if you’re looking for a cheap option in net tonight.
Value on Defense
Mikhail Sergachev, Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Detroit Red Wings ($3,600)
The top offensive players from the Lightning are all in great spots tonight against the Red Wings, who rated out as one of the worst defensive teams in most metrics last season. Sergachev enters this season off a year that saw him land a goal on under 4% of his shots on net. He’s likely due for some positive regression in the goal-scoring area and is still set to man the PP2 this season for the Lightning. He played over 20 minutes in game one and makes sense to deploy when his price is this cheap against such a weak opponent. Pairing him with other Tampa Bay values, like Anthony Cirelli ($3,900), who will also be part of the power-play for Tampa, makes sense given the Lightning enter with a massive 3.8 implied goal total.
Jakob Chychrun, Arizona Coyotes vs. Columbus Blue Jackets ($6,200)
Chychrun took a step forward last season as one of the most productive fantasy defensemen in the league. The American scored 18 goals last season and was on pace for a 25+ goal season if we extrapolate over 82 games. His 3.14 shots on goal per game average over the last 12 months is the second-highest on this slate and he faces a Blue Jackets team that features a weaker goalie tandem and gave up the fourth-most shots on net per game last season. There’s not much to get excited about in Arizona this season for fantasy purposes as the team does appear to be just playing out the string before perhaps being moved again, but Chychrun should get all the usage he can handle, especially on the power-play, where the Blue Jackets also rated out below average in 2020-21. He rates out as a fine pay option for core lineups given the opponent.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (MI/NJ/PA/WV/WY), 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN), 1-800-522-4700 (CO/NH), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), 1-888-532-3500 (VA), 1-800-NEXT STEP (AZ) or call/text TN REDLINE 1-800-889-9789 (TN).
21+ (18+ NH/WY). AZ/CO/IL/IN/IA/MI/NH/NJ/PA/TN/VA/WV/WY only. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for full terms and conditions.