By Sasha Yodashkin
Thursday’s 10-game NHL slate should be an exciting one, with many of the night’s contests having heavy playoff implications. Rangers players should make for popular picks as they look to extend their dominance over the Hurricanes, but there are plenty of solid options to be found on other rosters as well. Regardless of where their teams rank in the standings, these individuals are all primed to perform well Thursday.
Henrik Lundqvist, NYR at CAR ($30) –Lundqvist’s career splits against the Hurricanes are too good to ignore, as The King has ruled Carolina with a 23-9-1 record and 2.03 GAA. He has further improved those marks by going 3-0-0 with a 1.33 GAA this season, and makes for a tremendous value at just $30 as he goes for the season sweep.
Goalie to Avoid:
Pekka Rinne, NSH at PIT ($34) – Rinne has largely turned things around after struggling earlier in the season, but his 2.64 road GAA is still markedly higher than his 2.28 mark at Bridgestone Arena. Add in the fact that he’s facing a Pittsburgh team that has been on a scoring spree while winning nine of its last 10, and Rinne makes for an unappealing option despite his reasonable price.
Eric Staal, NYR at CAR ($15) – Staal broke out with two goals Sunday against the Penguins, but is still available at the discount price of $15. The longtime Hurricanes captain should be extra motivated to stay hot against his former team, and has a strong chance of success considering New York’s recent dominance against Carolina. His offensive pedigree defies expectations for players in his price range, and the veteran should start producing more consistently now that he’s had some time to adjust to the Rangers system.
Center to Avoid:
Ryan Johansen, NSH at PIT ($20) – Johansen hasn’t been particularly effective on the road recently, averaging just 4.2 fantasy points per game in his last 10 appearances away from Nashville. Don’t expect a sudden turnaround against the red-hot Penguins.
Jaromir Jagr, FLA vs. NJ ($18) – With a goal and three assists over his last three games, Jagr is heating up heading into a matchup with one of his many former teams. The 18-time 25-goal scorer costs just $18, which is a bargain price considering his time-tested ability to put the puck in the net at a high rate. With Vincent Trocheck out for the remainder of the regular season, don’t be surprised if Jagr steps up to the task of carrying the mail offensively for Florida.
Mike Hoffman, OTT at MIN ($20) – Hoffman has been heating up, tallying at least 8.0 fantasy points in six of seven games heading into Ottawa’s back-to-back set to conclude March. The talented young scorer has displayed tremendous unselfishness with two goals and six assists over that span, and should be able to keep the good times rolling against a Wild team that scored against in their last meeting on March 15.
Wings to Avoid:
Daniel Sedin, VAN at SJ ($17) – Like the rest of the Canucks, Sedin has been scuffling during Vancouver’s nine-game losing streak. His -1.0 fantasy points against the Sharks on Tuesday gave the Swede just 21.0 total in that span, and he’s unlikely to see a significant uptick in production against the same opponent just two days later.
Oliver Bjorkstrand, CLS at NYI ($18) – Bjorkstrand is still priced at a hefty $18 despite totaling just one assist and 18.0 fantasy points in his last five games. The rookie doesn’t quite seem ready to make a major impact at the NHL level yet.
Trevor Daley, PIT vs. NSH ($19) – Daley is one of many Penguins to pick up the pace offensively lately, with two goals and four assists in his last six games. His 11.5 fantasy point per game average is fantastic for a $19 player, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down while skating on a pairing with premier blueline producer Kris Letang.
John Klingberg, DAL vs. ARI ($20) – Klingberg has been contributing in a variety of ways over his last six full appearances, totaling two assists, a plus-8 rating and 20 shots on goal while averaging 8.5 fantasy points per game. The offensive-minded defenseman has a tremendous chance to add to his 54 points against Arizona’s 27th-ranked defense, and Dallas’ superiority as a team makes Klingberg a high-upside plus/minus asset as well given his recent success in that category.
Defensemen to Avoid:
Calvin de Haan, NYI vs. CLS ($17) – De Haan doesn’t get on the scoresheet much, which is why he has to excel in other categories to provide value. Unfortunately the $17 defenseman hasn’t been doing that lately — he owns a miserable minus-5 rating to go along with just four points in his last 15 appearances, making De Haan a subpar option for that price.
Casey Nelson, BUF vs. TOR ($20) – Nelson has picked up four assists in his first three NHL games, but his lack of ice time raises skepticism about the Minnesota State product’s ability to maintain that pace. His matchup against the Maple Leafs is solid, but $20 is an overpay considering the Sabres still don’t trust the rookie in most situations.
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