This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Hockey series.
The NHL playoffs begin Wednesday at 7:00 PM Eastern time with a five-game slate. Yahoo! will offer DFS contests throughout the postseason, giving owners a chance to add on to successful regular seasons or atone for poor ones. Read on to see which players are primed to provide the best value and which ones are best avoided in this first postseason slate.
Connor Hellebuyck, WPG vs. STL ($27): The Blues are no offensive powerhouse, as they finished the season ranked 15th with 2.98 goals per game. Hellebuyck is better than he showed in a lackluster regular season, and if he can flip the switch for the playoffs like Washington's Braden Holtby did last season, this is likely the cheapest he'll be all postseason.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Robin Lehner, NYI vs. PIT ($29): The Islanders were tremendous defensively in the regular season, but the playoffs are a whole different animal. Given the disparity in top-end talent between these clubs and Pittsburgh's history of postseason success, the Penguins should be favored here despite not having home-ice advantage. Lehner may seem like a great value at $29, but he comes with plenty of risk.
William Karlsson, VGK at SJ ($20): Karlsson regressed as expected with his shooting percentage normalizing at 14.2 after hovering at an unsustainable 23.4 percent last season, but he found the magic touch down the stretch. The former Columbus castoff recorded 12 points over his last 11 games, including five goals. He has a great opportunity to carry that scoring over to the playoffs against Sharks netminder Martin Jones, who finished with a 2.94 GAA and .896 save percentage.
CENTER TO AVOID
Alexandre Texier, CLS at TB ($18): Texier flashed some ability in his two games of regular-season action, potting a goal in the finale after getting held off the scoresheet in his debut. He averaged only 12:46 of ice time, however, and that number is likely to shrink further given coach John Tortorella's notorious lack of trust in rookies. Producing against a historically good Lightning team in such a limited role will be a tall order.
J.T. Miller, TB vs. CLS ($18): If you don't have the funds to pay up for the usual suspects up front for the Lightning or want to stack Tampa Bay's forwards, Miller's a nice option with a middling valuation. The former Ranger finished the season hot, racking up 10 points in his last nine games, including four on the power play.
Vladimir Tarasenko, STL at WPG ($27): If you're not a believer in Hellebuyck, then Tarasenko is a must-have option. The Russian sniper closed the season on a four-game point streak, which included three goals, four assists and 18 shots. Tarasenko also led the Blues with 12 goals and 22 points on the power play, putting him in position to take advantage of a 79.2 percent Jets penalty kill that's the worst among teams in this slate.
WINGS TO AVOID
Jamie Benn, DAL at NSH ($21): Benn finished a disappointing season even more slowly, totaling two helpers without a goal to go with a minus-2 rating over his final eight appearances. Considering he mustered more than one shot in only four of those games and more than two just twice, Benn will have a hard time getting back on track against a Nashville team that limited opponents to 2.59 goals per game – tied for third-fewest in the league.
Patrik Laine, WPG vs. STL ($21): Laine will have a hard time outperforming other wingers in this price range. His season average of 6.3 fantasy points is the lowest among wingers that cost more than $18, and Anders Lee (6.8) is the only other guy under 7.0. Plus, Laine will have to deal with Blues netminder Jordan Binnington, who carried the team to the postseason with a 1.89 GAA and .927 save percentage in 32 appearances.
P.K. Subban, NSH vs. DAL ($19): Continuing the common theme here, Subban's another guy who finished the season hot. Over his final five games, he stuffed the stat sheet with two goals, four assists, two power-play points, 21 shots, eight blocks and a plus-6 rating. All facets of Subban's game are rolling right now, yet he can still be had for a very reasonable $19.
Kris Letang, PIT at NYI ($24): As mentioned earlier, Pittsburgh has a definitive edge in top-end talent – a strong argument can be made that Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, Phil Kessel and Letang are the five best players in this series. By virtue of his higher ice time average as a defenseman (25:58 this season), Letang will most often get to share the ice with some combination of those other guys. His role could climb even further given the uncertainty on the rest of Pittsburgh's blue line, making the highly skilled defenseman a strong play here.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
David Savard, CLS at TB ($18): Savard's only two multi-point performances of the season came in the last two games, but don't expect that momentum to carry over into the playoffs. While he found success against a pair of bottom-10 defenses in the Rangers and Senators, Savard still finished with a mere 24 points on the year. That lack of upside coupled with the downside of facing a Lightning team that posted a plus-103 goal differential makes Savard a high-risk, low-reward play at $18.
Mikhail Sergachev, TB vs. CLS ($19): Sergachev has a lot of offensive ability, but he still has a lot to learn in his own end, which could cost him ice time in the playoffs. You're better off saving $1 and snagging the well-rounded Ryan McDonagh, who averaged 6.8 fantasy points to Sergachev's 5.1 and outperformed the Russian in every major category except power-play points.