Each day during the 2015-16 season, NHL.com's fantasy staff will identify one player at each position worth owning in DraftKings daily fantasy hockey contests. Based on factors including but not limited to matchups, line combinations, power-play usage, statistical coverage and recent production, we'll provide you with lower-priced options that can help you build a winning lineup.
Players accumulate points in DraftKings for each goal (3 points), assist (2), shot on goal (0.5), blocked shot (0.5) and shootout goal (0.2). Bonuses are given for shorthanded points (1) and hat tricks (1.5). Goalies accumulate points for each win (3) and save (0.2), and lose a point for each goal allowed. Goalie bonuses are given for a shutout (2) where the goalie completes the entire game with no goals allowed in regulation (and overtime, if applicable). Shootout goals will not prevent a shutout, and goalies will receive points for any goals or assists they score in a game. Penalty minutes, hits, plus-minus and PP points DO NOT count in DraftKings. DraftKings lineups must include nine players (2 C, 3 W, 2 D, 1 G, 1 FLEX) and fit within the $50,000 salary cap.
Dylan Larkin, C, Detroit Red Wings
DraftKings price: $3,800
Only five centers in this contest are averaging five-plus DraftKings points per game this season (Larkin, his linemate Henrik Zetterberg, Nathan MacKinnon, Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton), and Larkin is the cheapest of that bunch by a good margin. He's playing with Zetterberg ($6,700) and Justin Abdelkader ($4,700) on Detroit's top line and is facing Cam Ward, against whom he had an assist, four shots on goal and a plus-3 last Saturday. Ward has an .864 save percentage this season, 30th out of 35 goalies with at least two games played. Let the good times roll at even strength for Larkin, who has at least a point in each of his first three NHL games and rounds out one of the best line-stacking options in the contest.
Nikolaj Ehlers, W, Winnipeg Jets
DraftKings price: $3,900
Sticking with the rookie theme, Ehlers is thriving alongside Mathieu Perreault and Mark Scheifele on the Jets' second line. He has one goal, two assists, three blocked shots and 15 SOG in four road games to start his NHL career, and even scored a power-play goal in his last game against all-world New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. The Calgary Flames defense presents an obstacle for Winnipeg's home opener, but the way the Jets fared in their season-opening road trip certainly bodes well.
INJURY NOTE: Logan Couture (broken fibula) is out 4-6 weeks, so Tomas Hertl (wing in DraftKings; $4,100) is expected to be the San Jose Sharks' second-line center against the New Jersey Devils.
Jake Muzzin, D, Los Angeles Kings
DraftKings price: $4,200
Muzzin has been a plus-minus liability through three games (minus-6), but thankfully that's not a category in DraftKings. At this price, it's worth taking a flyer on a top power-play unit defenseman who blocks shots and shoots at the rates Muzzin has in his career. He has underwhelming numbers so far this season in those categories (two blocks, six SOG), but will be up top with the man-advantage against backup Minnesota Wild goalie Darcy Kuemper with Los Angeles due for an offensive explosion. This is an against-the-grain pick that could pay off in a big way.
Jimmy Howard, G, Detroit Red Wings
DraftKings price: $6,900
The Friday price structure for projected goalies has very little separation, ranging from Reto Berra ($6,000) at the bottom to Ryan Miller and Jake Allen ($7,300 each) at the top. Honestly, I'm not comfortable touching those goalies on either end of the spectrum, so I'm picking the best matchup in the middle of the salary range with Howard at home against the Carolina Hurricanes. Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill has a recent scouting report after squeaking by the Hurricanes on the road with Petr Mrazek in net last week, so he's going with Howard this time around. Howard is 2-0-0 on the season with one goal allowed on 43 shots faced and one shutout. Anything can happen on any given night, but Carolina is only averaging 1.67 goals per game (T-24th in NHL) so I like Howard's chances of getting the win with 25-30 saves.