Despite the Tampa Bay Lightning grabbing wins over their last two opponents, Washington has likely been the better team this year when looking at the bigger picture. Tampa’s latest surge has come against weaker teams while the Capitals have been solid from the get-go. The slight discrepancy between these two teams also plays out in the advanced stats, where the Capitals rank fourth in xGF% (expected goal rate) on the season and the Lightning rank just 11th. These two teams have played one close game already (a 2-1 Tampa win in OT), and another close game should almost be expected here. For that reason alone, I like taking the plus money on the Capitals available here.
Top Line Stack
Ottawa Senators at Chicago Blackhawks
Josh Norris ($5,200) - Brady Tkachuk ($6,100) - Drake Batherson ($5,300)
The Senators take on a Blackhawks team that is still without its best player in Patrick Kane. It’s been a season to forget thus far for Chicago (for various reasons), and the Senators top-line is in a position to take advantage Monday for fantasy.
Each member of this trio is averaging over two shots on goal for the season and have also been attached together for first-line power-play duties. Norris already has two power-play goals on the season while Drake Batherson is having a breakout style campaign, as he’s averaging over three shots on goal per game and over a point per game (eight points in seven starts). All things considered, we’re also getting a good price on Tkachuk, who still ranks among the leaders at wing in shots on goal (over the last 12 months) and was regularly priced at over $7K last season.
Chicago has allowed the sixth-most scoring chances against this year and have been one of the worst teams at even strength this year. This Ottawa line remains very affordable, and building around them will leave you with enough salary to roster any one of the elite combos from Edmonton, Tampa or Washington on Monday slate, as well.
Superstar to Target
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers vs. Seattle Kraken ($9,200)
It’s a three-game slate, and while we have numerous big names to choose from, the goal of this slate should be to find options at other positions that will let you fit in McDavid. He is averaging 2.28 points per game (which is impressive in itself), but the big news for fantasy purposes is his shot rate. He improved his career shot rate last season, averaging 3.57 SOG per game in 2020, but is well ahead of that pace in 2021-2022 with 5.57 SOG per game. Maybe this insane average comes down a bit as we get into the year, but the clear message we’re being sent here is McDavid is out for more goals.
The Kraken may also be throwing their third-string goalie to the wolves here, as Joey Daccord (career .895 save percentage) is looking like the likely starter for Seattle Monday. The Oilers have a monster 4.0 implied goal total, so we should also look to stack McDavid with either of his full-strength wingers in Jesse Puljujarvi ($5,600) or Zach Hyman ($6,300), who won’t break the bank but will give us added exposure to this lethal Oilers offense.
Value on Offense
Jaden Schwartz, Seattle Kraken at Edmonton Oilers ($2,900)
The Oilers enter this game having allowed 36 shots on goal per game this season. Schwartz is still looking for his first goal in a Kraken uniform, but the former Blue is getting lots of opportunity. He’s entrenched in a first-line role and on the first power-play unit, averaging over 19 minutes a game. Schwartz has started to look a little more perky for fantasy purposes of late, too, as he’s now recorded seven shots on goal in his last two starts and has assists in three straight games. We should see Schwartz get a decent number of offensive starts in this matchup against a team that features streaky goaltending and still has issues limiting the number of opportunities at even strength.
Mikko Koskinen, Edmonton Oilers vs. Seattle Kraken ($8,100)
Koskinen certainly feels like a player who could make or break the slate tonight. He’s coming off perhaps his best start of the season vs. Vancouver, where he stopped 29 of 30 shots faced and has averaged 32.5 shots faced over his last four starts. So far, he’s only had one bad start while filling in for the injured Mike Smith, and Koskinen gets a Kraken team that isn’t exactly filled with snipers up front. Koskinen is also a massive -250 favorite on this slate, which makes him a valuable pay-up option for that fact alone, especially with no other goalie higher than -145 in the betting odds on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Vitek Vanecek, Washington Capitals at Tampa Bay Lightning ($7,500)
Vanecek has had a nice start to the year for the Capitals and has yet to incur a regular-time loss. Taking a goalie going up against Andrei Vasilevskiy ($7,900) is always a little risky, but we also have to consider slate dynamics, and Vasilevskiy is likely to be one of the highest-rostered goalies on the slate. Vanecek and the Capitals are only +125 road favorites Monday, which isn’t all that big considering the opponent. The Lightning’s name value is likely to keep ownership on Vanecek way down in this spot, and given how well he’s played to start the year, taking on his low salary in GPP lineups against the likely to be popular Tampa forwards isn't a bad idea for those looking for a good leverage play.
Value on Defense
Evan Bouchard, Edmonton Oilers vs. Seattle Kraken ($4,900)
Bouchard’s price has risen over the last couple of weeks, but we’re not at a point yet where we should start fading him based on price adjustment either. Bouchard is averaging 24 minutes a game over his last three starts while playing on the top pairing for the Oilers and getting solid power-play exposure on a nightly basis. The rookie is averaging right around 4.5 blocked shots plus shots on goal per game, has a good offensive skillset and plays on the team with the best offense and power play in the league. He’s still a screaming buy at under $5K, especially on a night where the Oilers carry a 4.0 implied goal total.
Vince Dunn, Seattle Kraken at Edmonton Oilers ($3,200)
On a three-game slate, we don't have a ton of cheap defensemen to choose from (if we need a punt play at this position), but former the St. Louis Blue does stick out as a viable option. Dunn is starting to see his minutes rise a bit, as he’s now played over 21 minutes in two of his last three games. He sees decent power-play usage with the second unit and gets a matchup vs. the Oilers, who allow a lot of shots through ever night (Dunn is averaging two shots per game). Seeing him record a point or some extra shots on net in this spot wouldn't be surprising and would be great result considering his cheap salary.
Seth Jones, Chicago Blackhawks vs. Ottawa Senators ($6,000)
One Blackhawk player I don’t mind paying for on this slate is Seth Jones. He comes into this game averaging right around 5.0 blocked shots and shots on goal per game and already has five power-play assists to his credit on the year. Jones may be the most stable thing associated with the Blackhawks franchise right now, and he gets a good matchup vs. the Senators, who enter with the ninth-worst penalty kill in the league. Ottawa also gives up 33 shots on net per game and have a myriad of injuries in goal right now, so this is as good a spot as any for Jones to land his first goal of the year. He’s paying off for fantasy purposes with his work in other areas, but his upside is heightened enough here that his $6K salary looks like a solid bargain.
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