All season long, NHL.com's fantasy staff will provide daily picks for DraftKings NHL contests. This article includes expensive and value plays and can be used as a basis for your roster decision-making.
Spend up for: Nathan MacKinnon, COL ($5,700) -- He has seven points (four goals, three assists) and 35 shots on goal in nine career games against the Anaheim Ducks and at least one assist in three of four games this season. He's overdue for his first goal of the season (seven SOG) and easily stackable with Colorado Avalanche teammates, even-strength and power-play value threats, Sven Andrighetto ($4,300) or Mikko Rantanen ($4,700).
Video: VGK@COL: MacKinnon punches in rebound for PPG
Value pick: Mikael Backlund, CGY ($4,200) -- This is an extremely affordable price for a second-line center for a formidable team who scored an NHL career-high 53 points (22 goals, 31 assists) with solid peripheral coverage (16 power-play points, 197 SOG) last season. He plays on the Calgary Flames second power-play unit with Matthew Tkachuk, Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton and has a three-game point streak heading into the game Friday against the Ottawa Senators.
Spend up for: James Neal, VGK ($6,600) -- The Vegas Golden Knights should eventually regress a bit, but they have a chance to keep the good times rolling at home against the Detroit Red Wings, who will be on the second leg of a back-to-back set. Neal has at least 5.0 DraftKings points in each of his first three games, totaling five goals (three power-play goals) on 11 SOG. It's also more appealing to draft Neal knowing Petr Mrazek is projected to start for Detroit after Jimmy Howard played Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes.
Video: ARI@VGK: Neal spins and scores from the circle
Value pick: Jesper Bratt, NJD ($3,900) -- This hot-starting rookie is still cheap in DFS and is averaging 6.8 DraftKings points per game through three games. Bratt barely puts a dent into your DraftKings budget and is a threat for points at even strength or on the power play alongside a much-improved Pavel Zacha. Bratt has six points (three goals, three assists) in three games and will face the Washington Capitals.
Spend up for: Mike Green, DET ($5,100) -- He's quietly tied with Evgeny Kuznetsov ($6,900) for the NHL lead in assists (eight in four games) and is worth rolling out again on the road against the Golden Knights. His chemistry with forwards Martin Frk, Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin on the power play has sparked an unlikely fantasy resurgence. He's priced seventh among defensemen on this five-game night.
Value pick: Josh Manson, ANA ($3,400) -- He has three assists, seven blocks and 10 SOG through four games (3.6 DraftKings points per game) and is taking advantage of an expanded role with Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm sidelined for the Ducks with injuries. This is a great spot at the Avalanche against former teammate Jonathan Bernier. Nate Schmidt (VGK, $3,700) is another value defenseman if you'd rather spend up at center and wing.
Mike Smith, CGY ($8,200) -- The 35-year-old goaltender has a .950 save percentage through his first four games (3-1-0) with the Flames. He hosts the Senators, who will again be without elite defenseman Erik Karlsson. Smith has made at least 42 saves in three of his four games this season, padding his stellar DraftKings points per game average (8.4).
Video: CGY@LAK: Smith dives to keep the puck out
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