Spend up for: Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche ($6,700)
The Avalanche squandered a late lead Thursday at home in an eventual overtime loss to the Dallas Stars, so they know how important their Saturday game is against the Winnipeg Jets. Winnipeg allows the third-most DraftKings points to opposing forwards, so this is a prime matchup for Duchene and Colorado's top line. Duchene has 31 shots on goal in his past 10 games and has four points (two goals, two assists) with 10 SOG in three games against the Jets this season. He and Nathan MacKinnon ($6,600) have been playing with Jarome Iginla ($4,200) of late, making either combination a viable stacking option considering the favorable matchup.
Value pick: Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks ($5,200)
Entering Friday, the only players with more points than Thornton (26 in 21 games) since Dec. 15 are Patrick Kane (29 in 24) and Anze Kopitar (27 in 21). Thornton scored another goal Thursday and is up to 42 points in 50 games this season. Employing a player of his caliber usually costs upwards of $6,000 in DraftKings, but Thornton is sitting pretty at 20th among centers in price. He has 53 points in 46 career games against the Nashville Predators, his Saturday opponent.
Spend up for: Patrick Sharp, Dallas Stars ($6,800)
Sharp has not scored a goal since Jan. 3 (11 games) but will be licking his chops against his former team Saturday. Sharp had two points (goal, assist) and two SOG against the Chicago Blackhawks earlier in the season, and has kept his shot volume high (31 in past 10 games) during his goal drought for peripheral coverage. Sharp is a great investment under $7,000 against Chicago, which has allowed 14 goals in its past four road games.
Value pick: Reilly Smith, Florida Panthers ($4,800)
The Panthers are scorching hot and host the depleted Pittsburgh Penguins, who will be without injured Evgeni Malkin. That means Sidney Crosby, on the second of a back-to-back set, will be tasked with shutting down Florida's top line, leaving the opportunity for a big night from the secondary trio of Jussi Jokinen ($5,100), Vincent Trocheck ($4,800) and Smith. The Panthers wing is riding a six-game point streak (four goals, four assists) and has back-to-back games with a power-play point. He's also been more productive at home, with 3.2 DraftKings points per contest compared to 2.5 on the road.
Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins ($6,400)
Since returning Dec. 26, Letang has more points than any other defenseman League-wide (21 in 14 games entering Friday). He has 4.5 or more DraftKings points in seven of his past eight games and is still priced seventh among defensemen Saturday. The Penguins will be on short rest, but then again, everyone at the defenseman position comes with at least some risk. If I'm spending up on the blue line, it's only for Letang, who's producing points like a top-tier forward these days but fits into a defenseman slot.
Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs ($4,600)
The Maple Leafs are facing the Ottawa Senators, who are allowing the most DraftKings points to opposing defensemen this season and were torched for seven goals by the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday. Rielly averages more than two SOG per game this season (103 in 50 games) and is coming off an elite coverage outing (five SOG, three blocked shots) Thursday against the New Jersey Devils. He's played 24 or more minutes in three of his past six games, anchors Toronto's top power-play unit and covers the key categories in DraftKings. He's tied for 26th among 'D' in DraftKings price and offers exposure to a lower-ownership game.
Spend up for: Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche ($7,800)
Varlamov was in the midst of a season-best streak of four straight wins, allowing one goal in each, prior to missing time because of a legal matter. He struggled at Pepsi Center to start the season but has now won five of his past six home games and has a healthy blue line in front of him. There's some concern he could be rusty upon his return, but he's facing the Jets, the sixth-worst road team in the NHL (9-14-2).
Value pick: Robin Lehner, Buffalo Sabres ($6,900)
Lehner will almost certainly get the start Saturday after Chad Johnson lost in a shootout to the Boston Bruins on Thursday after being spotted a 2-0 lead. Lehner, who returned from injury Jan. 15, is 2-1-0 with six goals allowed and a .943 save percentage in three road games this season. The Bruins are vulnerable at home (11-13-3), and the Sabres have won two straight road games. Lehner is tied for 25th on the goalie price scale.
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