Each day this season, NHL.com's fantasy staff will provide daily picks for DraftKings NHL contests. This article includes expensive and value plays and should be used as a basis for your roster decision-making.
TOP CENTER: John Tavares, NYI ($7,500)
The New York Islanders didn't get Tavares any help prior the NHL Trade Deadline on Wednesday, but that shouldn't matter against the Dallas Stars. The Islanders captain scored two goals and had six shots on goal (10.0 DraftKings points) against Dallas on Jan. 19. Prior to a 7-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday, Tavares had three goals, an assist and 10 SOG during a three-game point streak. He has three goals, three assists and 28 SOG in his past eight road games.
VALUE CENTER: Derick Brassard, OTT ($5,000)
Brassard will be featured in the top six and on the first power-play unit for the Ottawa Senators against the Colorado Avalanche, who are allowing 3.31 goals per game, most in the NHL. He has two goals, four assists and 14 SOG in his past seven games. The Senators power play, which is 1-for-9 the past three games, could get a spark against the Avalanche, who have allowed three power-play goals in their past two games. Ottawa added forwards Alexandre Burrows and Viktor Stalberg prior to the deadline, and should be revitalized in its pursuit of a Stanley Cup Playoff berth. Brassard has multipoint upside and should have a low ownership, making him an ideal tournament play.
Video: OTT@TOR: Brassard jams home rebound for PPG
TOP WING: Joe Pavelski, SJS ($7,100)
Pavelski has had a down season for the San Jose Sharks by his standards. But a matchup against the Vancouver Canucks could keep his current hot streak going. Pavelski has a goal, two assists and four SOG in his past two games. He has two assists, two blocks and two SOG in two games against the Canucks this season, and 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists) in 41 career games against Vancouver. Pavelski is more than a point-per-game player at home (32 in 30 games), averaging 4.5 DraftKings points at SAP Center. He may fly under the radar with plenty of valuable wings playing at home.
VALUE WING: Thomas Vanek, FLA ($5,100)
The Florida Panthers acquired Vanek in a trade from the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday. The veteran wing adds depth to the Panthers lineup and is a power-play specialist. Florida has scored five power-play goals in its past four games and will face the Philadelphia Flyers penalty kill, ranked 14th in the League (81.4 percent). Vanek led the Red Wings with 15 goals prior to the trade, and he has performed better on the road this season (20 points in 23 games).
TOP DEFENSEMAN: John Carlson, WSH ($5,600)
The Washington Capitals got Carlson some help on the power play with the addition of defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, though he probably didn't need it considering he has an assist in three of his past four games, plus 20 SOG in that span. The Capitals have scored 11 goals in their past two games against the New Jersey Devils, each on the road. Carlson has strong category coverage with 92 blocks and 144 SOG in 56 games.
Video: DET@WSH: Carlson scores go-ahead goal
VALUE DEFENSEMAN: Oliver Ekman-Larsson, ARI ($4,600)
Ekman-Larsson's struggles are well-documented this season, but if there's an opponent that can break him out of his slump, it's the Buffalo Sabres. The Arizona Coyotes defenseman, known as a power-play specialist, will get a chance to feast on Buffalo's 29th-ranked penalty kill (75.8 percent). Employing Ekman-Larsson isn't going to cripple your salary cap, and he has elite upside, granted it hasn't shown up at all this season. He's a decent target for a tournament lineup in a plus-matchup.
GOALIE SPOTLIGHT: Mike Smith, ARI ($6,900)
The Coyotes and Sabres allow the most SOG per game in the NHL; Buffalo is last (34.1) and Arizona is 29th (33.6). There may be a lot of sloppy defensive play in this game, but there will also be plenty of shots for Smith to stop. The Sabres aren't a threat to score a lot of goals (2.46 per game, 24th in NHL), and the Coyotes have a better chance at getting Smith a win than on most nights. Ultimately, Smith is a risky play but will give you a bit of salary-cap relief to build your lineup around high-priced centers and wings.
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