The NHL DFS Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.

Tuesday is opening night in the NHL and has a two-game main slate at 7:30 pm ET.

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Top Plays

Brayden Point ($7,300 DraftKings, $7,600 FanDuel) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Opening night in the NHL comes with lots of question marks, but one thing that remains consistent is Brayden Point. The Tampa Bay Lightning center has been nearly a point-per-game player over the past three seasons and has the advanced metrics to support sustained production.

Across all strengths, Point finished last season with the best Corsi rating on the Lightning players (minimum 16 games), creating the most scoring chances and high-danger opportunities among forwards. FantasyLabs modeling ranks Point with the highest median, ceiling, and floor among centers.

Point is worth the investment up the middle.

Jeff Carter ($6,100 DraftKings, $4,900 FanDuel) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Depending on your preferred DFS provider, Jeff Carter straddles the top play and top value categories. Carter’s salary at DraftKings is $1,200 higher than FanDuel’s, which is why he has a 98% Bargain Rating on FanDuel. That makes him the better price-sensitive play on that particular site.

The veteran center found his rhythm with the Pittsburgh Penguins after being acquired near the trade deadline. Carter recorded nine goals and 11 points in 14 games with the Pens, creating more scoring and high-danger opportunities than he gave up despite getting only 38.9% of his starts in the offensive zone. The Pens need Carter to continue his pace from last season, which starts tonight against the Bolts.


Top Values

Anthony Cirelli ($3,900 DraftKings, $4,300 FanDuel) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Without question, Anthony Cirelli is the best value play on the DFS slate on Tuesday night. The Lightning center carries a modest salary on DraftKings and FanDuel while ranking second in FantasyLabs Median, Ceiling, and Floor Projections.

Cirelli finished last season with positive relative metrics nearly across the board but finished below expected output, making him a progression candidate this season. The Bolts’ second line consists of Cirelli, Alex Killorn, and Steven Stamkos, and they’ll get ideal matchups against the Pens, as Tampa benefits from last change.

Cirelli also centers the second powerplay unit, meaning he’ll have opportunities to pad his fantasy points. There is no better low-cost option at center than Cirelli.

William Karlsson ($5,200 DraftKings, $5,400 FanDuel) vs. Seattle Kraken

William Karlsson was the Vegas Golden Knights goals and points leader in their inaugural season. Since then, Karlsson’s output has declined, but he has outstanding advanced metrics that support increased output this season. The Swede put up strong relative metrics across all strengths last season, finishing the year with a 57.4% Corsi rating and out-chancing the opposition in high-danger scoring opportunities 230 to 178.

The Knights understand Karlsson’s offensive abilities, giving him 56.6% of his starts in the offensive zone and have him centering their first powerplay unit. Karlsson’s fantasy value should increase this season, but he remains a value play on DFS slates for now.

Wing

Top Plays

Nikita Kucherov ($8,000 DraftKings, $8,600 FanDuel) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

We can’t talk about the Tampa Bay Lightning without bringing up Nikita Kucherov. The former Hart Trophy winner missed the entire regular season in 2021 but returned in time to help the Bolts win their second consecutive Stanley Cup. Kuch led postseason scoring, recording 32 points in 23 games, including 19 powerplay points.

Kucherov had the best Corsi rating of any Lightning player in the postseason and tied for the team lead among forwards with 96 high-danger chances created. The Projected Points FantasyLabs Model has Kucherov listed as the highest-rated forward tonight.

Bryan Rust ($6,200 DraftKings, $6,200 FanDuel) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

The Sidney Crosby effect is a well-documented phenomenon in the hockey world. Players excel when skating on a line with the two-time Hart Trophy winner, and Rust has increased his fantasy impact over the past two seasons as a result. However, Crosby won’t be available for the Pens’ season opener, our projections like Rust’s chance to be a meaningful contributor.

Rust is skating on a line with Jeff Carter, making him an ideal stacking option on DFS slates. Crosby and Rust tied for the team lead last season with a 59.9% expected goals-for percentage across alls strengths, with strong relative offensive metrics. Few players get Rust’s opportunities in the offensive zone, with 76.2% of his starts coming in the attacking zone.

Our Median Projections rate Rust as the best wing option for the Pens.


Top Values

Jordan Eberle ($4,600 DraftKings, $5,200 FanDuel) vs. Vegas Golden Knights

Jordan Eberle has been an elite producer every he’s gone in his career, and the Seattle Kraken will benefit all season for drafting him for their inaugural year. Across all strengths, Eberle has finished with a positive Corsi rating in every season, including leading the New York Islanders with a 59.7% rating last season.

Eberle will skate on the Kraken’s top line and top powerplay unit. Moreover, Eberle’s ceiling puts him amongst the elite wingers on tonight’s slate, which isn’t reflected in his salary. Ebs has a knack for scoring big goals; what better time than in his team’s first-ever game.

Brock McGinn ($3,000 DraftKings, $3,800 FanDuel) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Brock McGinn joins the Penguins after spending the last nine years in the Carolina Hurricanes organization. McGinn was used primarily in a checking role, but he remains a value play on DFS rosters. The left-winger averaged 1.6 shots per game, 1.3 hits, and 0.4 blocked shots with the Canes last season. McGinn’s value is limited to scrappy fantasy points though, the winger has a 51.9% Corsi rating throughout his career and will be skating on a line with Teddy Blueger, who managed 22 points in 43 games last season.

Last season, McGinn created more high-danger chances than he gave up but underachieved relative to production metrics. That makes him a player worth keying in on with a talented Pens squad and one of the top value wingers in the FantasyLabs Projections.

Defense

Top Plays

Alec Martinez ($5,500 DraftKings, $4,600 FanDuel) vs. Seattle Kraken

The Vegas Golden Knights’ top four defensemen can skate with anyone in the league. Alex Pietrangelo gets a lot of credit on the Knights back end, but, based on our projections, Alec Martinez is the player worth including on your DFS rosters tonight.

Based on DraftKings scoring, Martinez has a higher projected Median, Ceiling, and Floor Projection than his defensive partner.

At five-on-five, Martinez outpaced Pietrangelo in creating high-danger chances, ending the season with a higher expected goals-for percentage than the Knights’ assistant captain. Martinez is a more affordable option with a higher ceiling. Leave him off your DFS rosters at your peril.

Victor Hedman ($6,300 DraftKings, $6,700 FanDuel) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

For years, Victor Hedman has been one of the best defensemen in the NHL, and that’s reflected in his fantasy production metrics. Hedman averaged 13.8 fantasy points per game last season, which is below our projected output for tonight.

Our model has Hedman’s Median Projection of 14.2 and his Ceiling at 17.2, both highest among defensemen. The Lightning assistant captain has the advanced metrics to support that type of production, finishing last season with positive relative metrics in every category, implying that he outplays his competitors night in and night out.


Top Values

Mike Matheson ($3,700 DraftKings, $3,500 FanDuel) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

The Penguins’ defensive corps revolves around Kris Letang, but Mike Matheson is a name worth keeping an eye on this season. Matheson played the third-most minutes per game at five-on-five last season and created more scoring and high-danger chances than allowed, despite getting 54.2% of his starts in the defensive end.

Pittsburgh uses Matheson on their second powerplay unit, but the veteran defenseman can be counted on for shots, blocks as well.

Mikhail Sergachev ($3,400 DraftKings, $4,800 FanDuel) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Victor Hedman gets a lot of the credit in Tampa Bay, and rightfully so. However, Mikhail Sergachev can be counted on for solid fantasy performances, and that’s reflected in our projections on Tuesday night. Sergachev has a solid Ceiling Projection in our models but carries a paltry $3,400 salary on DraftKings slates.

No Lightning player created more high-danger opportunities at five-on-five than Sergachev did last year, and the Lightning gave him the majority of his starts in the offensive zone. This could be the lowest salary you get on Sergachev all season.

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Goalies

Be sure to check the Starting Goalie Page throughout the day to see which goalies are confirmed starters.

Top Plays

Andrei Vasilevskiy ($8,000 DraftKings, $8,700 FanDuel) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

It’s no surprise that Andre Vasilevskiy opens the season as our top play for goaltenders. Vasilevskiy was last season’s Conn Smythe winner and is just two seasons removed from winning the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goaltender.

Vasilevskiy was nearly impossible to beat last season, leading the league with a 92.5% save percentage while stopping 87.3% of high-danger chances and 91.8% of scoring chances. The Pens will be without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, leaving Vasilevskiy with a lesser-than Pittsburgh team than he would typically face.

Our projections peg Vasilevskiy as the top goalie on the night in Median and Ceiling Projections.


Top Values

Philipp Grubauer ($7,000 DraftKings, $7,300 FanDuel) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Philipp Grubauer is the most affordable goalie on DraftKings and FanDuel, but his ceiling isn’t far off the goalies above him in our projections. Grubauer’s ceiling is marginally below Tristan Jarry’s and is ahead of the goaltender he’s facing, Robin Lehner, on Tuesday night.

The former Colorado Avalanche finished last season with a 92.2% save percentage, 86.4% high-danger save percentage, and third in Vezina Trophy voting, as a result. You can save $1,200 on a goaltender’s salary by playing the comparable Grubauer, and your fantasy lineup will be better off for it.

Notable Stacks

With Lineup Builder, it’s easy to incorporate stacks into our DFS lineups for tournaments.

Tampa Bay Lightning players were regularly featured in our top and value plays on today’s modest two-game slate. It’s on that basis that our notable stack for the day comes in the Lightning’s matchup against the Penguins.

The Bolts enter tonight’s contest as substantive favorites (-250 FanDuel Sportsbook). The total was hovering around six but has since been brought down to 5.5, although the over is priced at a hefty -128 price tag. Point, Kucherov, and Hedman have the three highest projections at their respective positions and combine for a $21,600 salary on DraftKings and $22,900 on FanDuel.

All three players will skate together at five-on-five and on the first powerplay unit, getting an ideal matchup with the Penguins, who gave up the 11th-most high-danger chances across all strengths last season, finishing the season with a 49.0% high-danger chances rating on the road. Tampa is in the driver’s seat against the Pens, and their top line will be in a position to flourish all night.