This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Hockey series.
Friday marks the first sizable NHL slate since the All-Star break, with eight games on tap after 7:00 PM Eastern time. While the selection is increased compared to the past few days, certain players still stand out from the pack as options to target while others are best avoided. Read on to see who falls into which category.
Ben Bishop, DAL vs. MIN ($34): Bishop got his second half off to an ideal start Wednesday, shutting out the Sabres on 30 shots to take home a 1-0 victory. He should build on the momentum from that outing against a visiting Wild team that averages only 2.82 goals per game.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Robin Lehner, NYI vs. TB ($35): While the Islanders pulled out a convincing 5-1 win over Tampa Bay at the Barclays Center back on Jan. 13 with Thomas Greiss in net, don't bet on lightning striking twice for New York against the league's best offense (3.96 goals per game). Despite the Islanders' stellar recent defensive play, there's way too much downside here to trust Lehner at $35.
Jack Eichel, BUF vs. CHI ($29): Eichel's in the midst of a career season, with 53 points and a plus-8 rating through 47 appearances. Remarkably, he's finding all this success despite a career-low 8.5 shooting percentage. Eichel gets a great opportunity to start turning his poor shooting luck around against a Blackhawks team that's allowing the second-most goals per game in the league (3.71).
CENTER TO AVOID
Brayden Point, TB at NYI ($31): Point was held pointless by the Islanders in the Jan. 13 meeting between these teams, and that's happened to him twice more in four subsequent games. This run of poor form is unlikely to end against the league's stingiest defensive team (2.41 goals allowed per game).
Dominik Simon, PIT vs. OTT ($14): Simon remains a nice bargain at $14 considering he's skating on Pittsburgh's top line with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel. He has eight points in his last 11 games and should continue to find success against a Senators team that's allowing a league-high 3.74 goals per game.
Chandler Stephenson, WAS vs. CGY ($10): Stephenson will enjoy a one-game bump in role, as he's been promoted to Washington's top line alongside Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie while Alex Ovechkin sits one game as punishment for skipping the All-Star festivities. The matchup isn't ideal, but the upside of his deployment alongside two highly skilled forwards makes Stephenson a low-risk, high-reward option at the minimum $10.
WINGS TO AVOID
Alexander Radulov, DAL vs. MIN ($25): Radulov's mired in a slump, having produced just two assists without a goal and a minus-3 rating over the past six games. Turning things around won't be easy in what promises to be one of the night's lowest-scoring games – Minnesota's low-octane offense is matched exactly by the Wild's stingy defense with 2.82 goals for and 2.82 goals against per game.
Mike Hoffman, FLA vs. NSH ($20): Hoffman has struggled greatly in the rating department, posting a minus-18 mark. He hasn't done enough offensively of late to cover for his defensive deficiencies – Hoffman's last multi-point game came back on Dec. 28. Against a Nashville team that's holding opponents to 2.58 goals per game, he's a low-floor, low-ceiling option at $20.
Jake Gardiner, TOR at DET ($13): While all eyes will be on trade acquisition Jake Muzzin, a different Jake on Toronto's blue line is set to provide the best bang for the buck. If Gardiner's able to make his return from back spasms, he's set to easily outperform his $13 valuation against a Red Wings team that's getting outscored 3.27 to 2.80 on average this season. Expect Gardiner's price to climb quickly once he's back, as he has 24 points and a plus-17 rating through 47 appearances. Since only three of those points have come on the power play, Muzzin's possible inclusion with the extra man is unlikely to have much of an effect on Gardiner's value.
Kris Letang, PIT vs. OTT ($25): Letang's one of the league's most offensively gifted blueliners, and most of his 26:11 average ice time coincides with that of Pittsburgh's top forwards. His gaudy ice time total includes a team-high 3:26 per game with the extra man, so Letang's set to wreak havoc on a Senators team that sports the league's third-most generous penalty kill (75.5 percent) in addition to being the NHL's worst defensive team overall.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Jaccob Slavin, CAR vs. VGK ($18): Slavin was hot heading into the All-Star break with five assists in his last three games, but he's still averaging just 5.2 fantasy points per game this season, which is fewer than fellow Hurricanes blueliners Dougie Hamilton (5.7) and Justin Faulk (5.4), who can be had for just $17 and $14, respectively. Dragging down Slavin's value is a minus-10 rating, which is in jeopardy of declining further against a Vegas club that's outscoring opponents 3.00 to 2.67 on average this season.
Cody Ceci, OTT at PIT ($16): Ceci's another guy whose struggles in the plus-minus department are likely to get even worse here. His 15 points are accompanied by a minus-18 rating, which is unlikely to withstand an onslaught from Pittsburgh's fifth-ranked offense (3.50 goals per game) unscathed.