At last, the NHL is back and it's very much welcome as we get to the tail end of football. The articles will be simple and straight forward; highlighting my three favorite skaters, favorite line stacks, top goalies, and some one-off skaters to consider for lineups on a given night. The puck drops on the season today at 5:30 p.m. EST so keep that in mind as your Wednesday moves along.

Key Skaters

Brayden Point, TB (DK $7,000)

  • Even despite being a key part of the Lightning winning the Stanley Cup last season, Point might not get the attention that fellow center's Connor McDavid (EDM, DraftKings $8,400), Nathan MacKinnon (COL, DK $8,500), or Auston Matthews (TOR, DK $8,200) will but there's a substantial discount attached to Point who will be asked to do more this season with star winger Nikita Kucherov out for the season.
  • The Blackhawks were one of the worst defensive teams in the NHL last season, specifically allowing production against the center position and their top defensive forward that would match up with Point in Jonathan Toews is out. 
  • Point averaged nearly three points per 60 minutes (2.8, 10th among forwards) last season at 5v5 with four high-danger scoring chances per 60 under the same circumstances.

Brendan Gallagher, MTL (DK $6,300)

  • To say that the Maple Leafs were lackluster defensively last season would be an understatement. Gallagher, one of the more underrated power forwards in the league had four points (two goals) last season in three games against Toronto.
  • Gallagher led all forwards in shots per 60 minutes (14.48), expected goals per 60 (xG/60) with 1.34, and high-danger scoring chances per 60 (HDCF/60) with 7.79.

Connor McDavid, EDM (DK $8,400)

  • McDavid is as close to a cheat as there is in the four major sports. While some will say Nathan MacKinnon is just as good, and he's great, McDavid is just on another level. Every time the puck is on his stick you think he's going to score, at least that's how I feel.
  • Despite a lackluster supporting cast, McDavid has continued to put up massive numbers year after year. 
  • Despite having a solid defensive-minded center in Vancouver in Bo Horvat, the Canucks did struggle with centers last season and McDavid is at the top of the list.

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Favorite Line Stacks

*Note: Lines are subject to change depending on morning skate lines. Revert to the chat and/or look for updates here for any impact they may have.

Tampa Bay Lightning

First Line: Palat - Points - Stamkos

  • This is a line that has a lot of continuity and has had a lot of success over the years. With Nikita Kucherov out, a higher emphasis will be put on this trio at both even strength and on the power-play. 
  • In a game that should see a lot of scoring with Tampa a heavy favorite, this should be a popular line stack in GPP's, just keep that in mind. 

Colorado Avalanche

First Line: Burakovsky - MacKinnon - Rantanen

  • Last season early on we saw Gabriel Landeskog on this line instead of Andre Burakovsky in what anyone that has followed me referred to as the "420 line". Now, with Burakovsky sliding in, there's some welcomed value on a line that carries with it the high-priced production of MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen.
  • As one of the most productive formations at even strength and on the powerplay last season, I see no reason that shouldn't continue for an Avalanche team that has high playoff aspirations. 

Others to Consider

Montreal Canadiens First Line: Tatar - Danault - Gallagher

  • Montreal's top line brings a ton of value as the line with the second-highest expected goals per 60 minutes rate in the NHL last season at 5v5. Toronto played at an extremely fast pace last season which left in some vulnerable situations defensively. Looking at Toronto's personnel this season, I don't see a drastic change coming from them defensively presenting Montreal as a good value on Opening Night.

Vancouver Canucks First Line: Virtanen - Pettersson - Boeser

  • The top line for the Canucks is full of talent, even with Nils Hoglander subbing in for J.T. Miller and they go against a weak defensive unit in Edmonton who allowed a ton of scoring chances last season. Top defensive pairing Darnell Nurse and Ethan Bear the highest expected goals against per 60 mark at 5v5 of any defensive pairing in the league last season.

Chicago Blackhawks First Line: Debrincat - Strome - Kane

  • Debrincat and Strome present a ton of value with the pricey Kane in a game that should see a fast pace and plenty of scoring chances on both sides.

Top Positional Plays

*Note: Value plays will be highlighted in red

Center

Evgeni Malkin, PIT (DK $7,200)

Bo Horvat, VAN (DK $5,900)

Dylan Strome, CHI (DK $3,100)

Robert Thomas, STL (DK 3,000)

Wing

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, EDM (DK $6,900)

Claude Giroux, PHI (DK $5,400)

Alex Debrincat, CHI (DK $4,200)

Mike Hoffman, STL (DK $3,200)

Nils Hoglander, VAN (DK $2,900)

Defense

Victor Hedman, TB (DK $6,200)

Shea Weber, MTL (DK $5,900)

Duncan Keith, CHI (DK $4,200)

Justin Faulk, STL (DK $3,100)

Travis Hamonic, VAN (DK $2,500)

Top Goalies

Carey Price, MTL (DK $7,600)

  • Price has been the stalwart for the Canadiens for 13 seasons now since coming in as a 20-year-old. The Canadien netminder saw 30 shots against per game in 58 games last season, which led all goaltenders.
  • In three games against Toronto, last season Price went 3-0 with 83 saves.
  • There's a lot of upside for Price as far as seeing a lot of shots goes in this matchup. Regardless of whether or not the Canadiens win, we've seen since the new DraftKings scoring came into effect last season that a goaltender victory is not as paramount as it used to be.  

Carter Hart, PHI (DK $7,800)

  • Hart had a solid debut season two years ago and really came into his own last season starting 40 games for the Flyers. Hart had a 2.42 goals-against average and had some big games toward the end of the regular season and in the Stanley Cup Playoffs despite coming up short. 
  • Hart should continue to mature and improve as this is a good spot against, in my mind, an overrated Penguins team.

Andrei Vasilevskiy, TB (DK $8,400)

  • If you're looking for a "safe" goaltender on this slate, Vasilevskiy and the Lightning are the heaviest favorites on the slate. Personally, I prefer shooting for upside at the goalie spot in almost every case. Chicago has some offensive talent and plays somewhat recklessly making them a dangerous offensive team that can surprise on any given night.
  • Vasilevskiy should be the highest owned netminder on the slate but I'll be way under the field on him in tournaments.

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