This article is part of our FanDuel NHL series.
There are five games today and all of them should be competitive. The spotlight will be on the Senators for Tim Stuetzle's NHL debut against the Leafs (7 p.m. EST), but the other Sens rookies should also be fun to watch. The Caps and Sabres will wrap up their back-to-back series (7 p.m.), while the Pens and Flyers (7 p.m.) continue their heated rivalry after a spicy season opener. The Hawks should try and make it more competitive against the Lightning (7 p.m.) this time around, but don't hold your breath. And the Cup-hunting Avs are looking to avenge their season-opening loss against the Blues (9 p.m.) in the late start.
A reminder this season will likely be more unpredictable than previous ones due to players possibly shuffling in and out of the lineup with the addition of the taxi squad due to health concerns and/or the condensed schedule, so be sure to double-check your lineups and note any game-time decisions through RotoWire.
Note: FanDuel has included two Utility (C/W/D) spots this season, giving managers more flexibility than past seasons. I will provide a few more players per section than usual to reflect this change.
Note: Picking goalies will be a precarious exercise this season because certain coaches – ahem, Peter DeBoer, ahem – who won't reveal their choice until warm-up. But it's safe to assume most teams will feature a rotation of some kind. FanDuel has valued backups who are expected to start the same salary as their respective teams' usual starters.
Pavel Francouz, COL vs. STL ($8,300): I think Grubauer takes a break after the team fell flat in the season opener. The Avs need to do a better job of clearing the slot so their goalies can make saves and produce better overall efforts. It would be unusual for the Avs to lose two in a row to start the year since they usually start off hot. The salary does, however, seem a little high because Grubauer (same salary) is better and the Blues' goalies ($7,500) offer as good of a chance to win.
Jack Campbell, TOR at OTT ($8,200): The Leafs' offense instills a lot of confidence after a comeback win in the opener. As talented as the Sens' rookies may be, they're still not going to be very consistent or very strong on defense. It feels like all Toronto games are going to be high-scoring affairs. Campbell has also been an excellent fringe starter/backup over the past three seasons.
Carter Hart, PHI vs. PIT ($8,000): The Flyers have already announced Hart will start again, and there's no reason to not pick him again. The Pens' defense looked awful in the opener - as you'd expect from one that employs Mike Matheson and Cody Ceci - and the Flyers roll out three decent lines that overwhelmed them. Meanwhile, Hart has lost only once on home ice dating back to Jan. 13 of last year.
Linus Ullmark, BUF vs. WSH ($7,300): I'm going against the grain here, but the Caps weren't great last night and are definitely prone to slow starts. The Sabres look much better - especially on offense - and the other end will likely feature rookie Vitek Vanecek making his NHL debut. The only time the Sabres lost both games in back-to-backs last season was against Tampa in Stockholm.
Robert Thomas, STL at COL ($4,300): Thomas played just 12 minutes, but it was enough to register two assists and convince everyone he's ready for the No. 2 center job. He gets a big boost if Mike Hoffman (visa issues) plays because Oskar Sundqvist has no business playing in the top-six.
Jakub Vrana, WSH at BUF ($4,200): Vrana's ice time remains frustratingly low, but he still managed to score a goal on five shots. The Caps are a proven veteran team, so it's hard to move up and Vrana is stuck on the second line and second power-play unit. His talent is borderline elite and the Sabres didn't do well on defense last night.
Joel Farabee, PHI vs. PIT ($4,200): No one expects Farabee to replicate a four-point performance, but the Flyers' coaches trust him and he's receiving plenty of opportunities. His line with Kevin Hayes and Claude Giroux was brilliant and generated a team-best 62.5 CF% at 5v5 according to Natural Stat Trick.
Nolan Patrick, PHI vs. PIT ($4,100): FanDuel has already adjusted Patrick's salary to reflect his strong performance in the season opener. If the salary were any higher, it would be very difficult to justify him as a value play. Patrick is surrounded by good wingers and plays PP2, giving him more upside than other centers in this price range.
Tyler Johnson, TB vs. CHI ($3,700): It's not as if Tampa needs more help, but TJ is expected to play after sitting out the season opener due to cap issues. This represents a solid value play for a proven veteran playing on the second line on arguably the league's best team facing arguably the league's worst.
Joshua Norris, OTT vs. TOR ($3,700): The beginning of the season is great for rookies because their salaries are much lower than what they should be. Norris will open the season on the Sens' top line with Brady Tkachuk and led AHL Belleville with 30 goals and 61 points in 56 contests last season.
Tage Thompson, BUF vs. WSH ($3,600): I thought Thompson was better than expected and showed some quick hands, especially on the power play. His play and usage didn't indicate he was in jeopardy of losing an enviable position of playing next to Taylor Hall and Jack Eichel.
Tim Stuetzle, OTT vs. TOR ($3,000): We witnessed this German machine dominate at the World Juniors and now we'll get to see how he does against NHL competition. General consensus: Stuetzle will do just fine, even if his ice time is limited.
Sabres vs. Capitals
Eichel and Hall speak for themselves as two of the best offensive talents in the league. Thompson will keep the cost of the line stack down, but he's also got some upside on PP2. The Caps' defense and goaltending has been weaker than expected and this trio combined for five points last night.
Flyers vs. Penguins
Why fix what isn't broke? This stack is recommended for the second straight game against a Penguins' team that didn't look like they were all on the same page. The trio passed the eye test and the underlying analytics (62.5 CF%) were also very favorable.
Senators vs. Maple Leafs
Either line should be an interesting stack, but I lean towards Norris's line because Tkachuk is reliable and Batherson represents another strong value play relative to his talent. Until Stepan proves otherwise, he's an offensive black hole after registering only six (!) primary assists at even strength in 70 games last season.
Samuel Girard, COL vs. STL ($4,700): Girard is usually not a big points producer, but did manage a power-play assist last game running the second unit. The pool for blueliners isn't very deep on today's slate, but Girard can provide value among those in the second tier.
Erik Gustafsson, PHI vs. PIT ($4,500): If Gustafsson can keep producing on the power play, it will give the Flyers two excellent quarterbacks. But he's also a streaky offensive defenseman and therefore carries some risk, but the second unit looked just as impressive - if not better - than the first.
Justin Holl, TOR at OTT ($3,800): Holl finished second among Leafs' defensemen in ice time in the season opener and played quite a bit in overtime, which was kind of surprising. Sheldon Keefe barely used his third pairing, so the Leafs' top four will soak up a ton of minutes. Holl is on the first penalty killing unit, so he'll be blocking a lot of shots.
Adam Boqvist, CHI at TB ($3,700): Boqvist quarterbacks the first power play - which, of course, features Patrick Kane - and didn't look out of place at even strength. He's a highly-touted puck mover with plenty of upside.