This article is part of our DraftKings NHL series.
Thursday's NHL slate is a large one, with 11 games on tap after 7:00 PM Eastern time. Below, you'll find an overview of the matchups and suggested options for crafting an effective lineup.
While few of these matchups immediately jump off the page, there are plenty of vulnerable teams to exploit, as nine of the league's worst 11 defensive teams are set to take the ice. Some teams primed for offensive success on the road are the Stars (in Toronto), Coyotes (in Ottawa) and Rangers (in Minnesota).
Elvis Merzlikins ($7,300) turned into one of the league's best goalies as soon as Joonas Korpisalo went down, and Merzlikins now owns a sparkling 12-7-5 record, 2.19 GAA and .930 save percentage on the season. He's a steal at just $7,300 against a Sabres team that ranks 21st offensively with 2.82 goals per game.
New Jersey's MacKenzie Blackwood ($7,800) takes a two-game, 83-save shutout streak into this home clash with a Red Wings team that's averaging a league-low 2.03 goals per game.
Coyotes netminder Antti Raanta ($7,500) is another guy who should provide strong bang for the buck. He's 11-12-3 with a 2.82 GAA and .915 save percentage heading into this clash with a Senators team that's scoring the sixth-fewest goals per game (2.63).
A changing of the guard is under way in the Rangers' net, as Igor Shesterkin ($7,200) has forced his way into the No. 1 role by going 6-1-0 with a 2.18 GAA and .941 save percentage in his first seven starts. The Russian rookie will be worth a look if he gets the nod in Minnesota.
Sean Couturier ($6,600) leads the Flyers with 50 points through 57 games, putting him on a 72-point pace after back-to-back 76-point seasons. The center should continue to produce in what promises to be a fast-paced affair in Florida against a Panthers team that's allowing 3.30 goals per game.
Chris Kreider ($6,500) could be the top rental on the market if the Rangers opt to sell ahead of the trade deadline, and he's done his best to raise his value with a 16-11-27 line in his last 26 games. The surging power forward should continue his strong play against a Wild team that's allowing 3.20 goals per game. Kreider's also tied with Mika Zibanejad for the team lead with nine power-play goals, and his net-front presence should cause problems for Minnesota's 30th-ranked, 74.3 percent penalty kill.
The Islanders don't have much skill up front and rely on defense to win, so it's not surprising nobody on the team has even cracked double digits in power-play points. The three guys tied for the team lead in that category with nine apiece are Mathew Barzal ($6,300), Josh Bailey ($4,100) and Derick Brassard ($3,700). Brassard is an intriguing value play as the cheapest member of that trio against Nashville's league-worst, 73.7 percent penalty kill, and he comes into this one with five points in his last five games.
This is as favorable a matchup as Anthony Mantha ($7,500) will see, as the Devils' 3.44 goals allowed per game are second-most after Mantha's own Red Wings. The 25-year-old power forward has been terrific when healthy despite the poor play around him, mustering a 12-14-26 line in 30 appearances.
Mark Pysyk ($2,800) has taken the move from defenseman to winger in stride, producing a pair of three-point performances in his last six games for the Panthers. You could do a lot worse if you're searching for a cheap filler.
FORWARD LINE STACKS
Stars at Maple Leafs
Dallas' latest reshuffling yielded this line, which should pose a major goal-scoring threat against a Maple Leafs team that's allowing 3.25 goals per game and remains without starting goalie Frederik Andersen (upper body). Benn's hat trick in Tuesday's 4–1 win over the Hurricanes gave him the team goal lead with 18. Gurianov also lit the lamp in that game, and 10 of the 22-year-old Russian's 16 goals have come in his last 20 games. Dickinson's more of a cheap filler, but for what it's worth, he has a point in three of his last four road games.
Devils vs. Red Wings
This is a rare matchup in which the Devils are actually favored, as they're at home against a Red Wings team that has a league-low 32 points in 58 games and is allowing a league-high 3.71 goals per game. New Jersey's top line is primed to take advantage of the favorable conditions and continue its strong recent play. Palmieri's 4-1-5 line in his last four games has him tied for the team lead in goals (21) and leading in points (38), even though he's missed four out of 55 games. The winger has notched between 24 and 30 goals in each of his previous four seasons with New Jersey and is on pace to exceed the high end of that range. Hughes has logged a point in three of four games since moving to the top line with Nico Hischier (knee) sidelined, and the first overall pick from the 2019 draft should find the room to show off his high-end skill against the lowly Red Wings. Bratt is on pace to open his career with a third consecutive season of 33-plus points thanks to a 10-12-22 line in 47 appearances, including a 2-4-6 line in his last seven contests.
Oilers at Lightning
Stacking against the red-hot Lightning is counterintuitive, but this line has been so productive ever since Yamamoto was called up from the AHL that it could well thrive even in this difficult matchup. In 15 games since that point, Yamamoto has a 7-7-14 line, Nugent-Hopkins has an 8-13-21 line and Draisaitl has a 10-18-28 line. That near 160-point pace over the past 15 games coupled with strong production beforehand has Draisaitl leading the league in points with 89 through 56 games, eight clear of second-place Connor McDavid, who will be sidelined for 2-3 weeks with a quadriceps injury.
Jakob Chychrun ($5,200) has been excellent during his active five-game point streak, with two goals, three assists and 17 shots. The 21-year-old Florida native brings a 12-12-24 line into Arizona's tasty road matchup with a Senators team that's letting in 3.32 goals per game.
Anthony DeAngelo ($5,300) is the only defenseman on the Rangers' surging top power-play unit, giving him immense upside against the league's second-worst penalty killing unit in Minnesota. One third of DeAngelo's 42 points through 55 games have come with the man advantage.
John Carlson ($7,500) continues to make even elite forwards jealous with his 15-52-67 line in 56 games. If you have the money for him on the blue line, Carlson should shine against a Colorado team that's struggled to contain opposing defensemen.
Matt Niskanen ($4,000) has quietly racked up a 2-5-7 line in the last seven games for the Flyers. The steady veteran is a nice bargain option against the Panthers in a game that should feature plenty of offense.