Lineup picks, matchups, start or sit advice for Saturdays all-32 NHL slate
- ESPN.com Fantasy Contributor since 2010
- Part-time anchor at NEWSTALK1010
Strap in folks; after a day of complete dormancy, we’re likely in for the wildest 13 hours of hockey this year. However, just because every NHL team is in action this lively Saturday, doesn’t mean you’ll find all of your choice fantasy assets on the ice, or in a favorable position to contribute. More than ever, matchups matter. In fact, some of the day’s most intriguing tilts – Vegas versus Dallas, Nashville versus Winnipeg – carry less overall fantasy promise on paper, aside from the usual stars, than other more meaningless contests.
Resting players also remains a pressing issue. Take extra special care in managing those who are already secure in their postseason position or, in some cases, out of it completely. The banged-up Lightning – cemented in third place in the Atlantic – aren’t expected to sport their usual lineup in Ottawa. No David Krejci or Charlie McAvoy, at minimum, for the Bruins when they pursue record-tying win No. 62 against the Devils (which you can watch on ABC and ESPN+) With every single player option on the fantasy table, the process of picking and choosing your active assets – and knowing who to bench – carries more weight than ever.
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All times Eastern.
Favorable scoring match-ups
St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild
Xcel Energy Center, 8 p.m. ET Watch live on ESPN+
With his club just two points shy of a tie for first in the Central, forward Kirill Kaprizov is expected to return after losing a month to a lower-body injury. Make sure he’s back in your own fantasy lineup against the Blues, while giving some thought to supporting cast members like Ryan Hartman and power-play asset John Klingberg. Also know that Joel Eriksson Ek is unfortunately out for the remainder of the regular season and beyond, meaning Frederick Gaudreau should benefit from filling a more prominent role alongside Matt Boldy. While Jordan Binnington has been solid of late, the projected opposing netminder was fairly awful in his last head-to-head with the Wild.
Edmonton Oilers at San Jose Sharks
SAP Center at San Jose, 4 p.m. ET Watch live on ESPN+
Off since Wednesday, and having outscored the Sharks 12-5 through two earlier matches, the Oilers appear in fine form to put up a few in San Jose. Three points shy of first-place Vegas in the Pacific, Edmonton is still firing on all cylinders heading into the postseason, and there’s no question they want that top position. Meanwhile, the Sharks are counting down the minutes until they can look ahead to 2023-24, coming off Thursday’s 6-2 drubbing at the hands of the Avalanche. In addition to the Oilers’ prominent stars, others like Kailer Yamamoto and Evan Bouchard might be worth a fantasy twirl in this particular matinee. Goalie Stuart Skinner too.
Florida Panthers at Washington Capitals
Capitals One Arena, 7 p.m. ET, Watch live on ESPN+
Winners of five straight, the Panthers are averaging 4.8 goals/game since Mar. 29. They want that Wild Card spot badly. The Capitals — who surrendered 11 goals through two contests to Florida already this season — are a broken bunch, with one lonely win since Mar. 15. And they’re hemorrhaging goals. Play your Panthers.
Calgary Flames at Vancouver Canucks
Rogers Arena, 7 p.m. ET, Watch live on ESPN+
After scoring five on Thatcher Demko only eight days ago, the Flames need a similar result to maintain any reasonable shot of catching Winnipeg for the second Wild Card spot in the West. I’m looking at you, Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri, and Tyler Toffoli. The forward pairing of Mikael Backlund and Blake Coleman also appeals in this matchup, along with defender MacKenzie Weegar.
New York Rangers at Columbus Blue Jackets
Nationwide Arena, 7 p.m. ET, Watch live on ESPN+
Backstopped by Michael Hutchinson, the Blue Jackets surrendered six to the Rangers fewer than two weeks ago. Most recently, Hutchinson and Jon Gillies combined to allow eight goals in a big loss to the Devils. Hutchinson is projected to start against New York — still battling for home ice in the first round — once more this Saturday. And, to be fair, Columbus’ weaknesses spread well beyond the crease. Turn to your fantasy Rangers, from the ‘Kid Line’ up, in what could end up another lopsided defeat for the well-out-of-it home side. Just know that Patrick Kane could miss a third after already sitting out two games with a minor lower-body issue.
Philadelphia Flyers at New York Islanders
UBS Arena, 7:30 p.m. ET, Watch live on ESPN+
The last time the Flyers allowed fewer than four goals in a game was Mar. 28 versus the Canadiens. Hanging onto their Wild Card spot by the thinnest of threads, the Islanders need to put in a productive showing similar to their recent 6-1 victory over the Lightning. Fantasy-wise, I like Bo Horvat to build on Thursday’s goal/assist haul after an otherwise dismal stretch, along with veterans Kyle Palmieri and Zach Parise. Experience often comes to play in such must-win scenarios.
Mid-tier fantasy forwards
Teuvo Teravainen, Carolina Hurricanes (58.1%)
David Perron, Detroit Red Wings (69.9%)
Bryan Rust, Pittsburgh Penguins (59.3%)
Dylan Strome, Washington Capitals (37.7%)
Mikael Backlund, Calgary Flames (26.5%)
Ryan O’Reilly, Toronto Maple Leafs (47.4%)
Alex Killorn, Tampa Bay Lightning (48.7%)
Ryan Hartman, Minnesota Wild (54.8%)
Jared McCann, Seattle Kraken (69.4%)
Deep league/Daily Fantasy value forwards
Casey Mittelstadt, Buffalo Sabres (2.8%)
Ivan Barbashev, Vegas Golden Knights (18.3%)
Kyle Palmieri, New York Islanders (3.6%)
Jordan Eberle, Seattle Kraken (15.9%)
Kailer Yamamoto, Edmonton Oilers (5.7%)
Barrett Hayton, Arizona Coyotes (15.9%)
Frederick Gaudreau, Minnesota Wild (1.8%)
Frank Vatrano, Anaheim Ducks (12.3%)
Blake Coleman, Calgary Flames (5.8%)
Kaapo Kakko, New York Rangers (4.8%)
Andreas Athanasiou, Chicago Blackhawks (1.8%)
Morgan Frost, Philadelphia Flyers (9.0%)
Mid-tier fantasy defensemen
Evan Bouchard, Edmonton Oilers (70.2%)
John Klingberg, Minnesota Wild (57.7%)
Bowen Byram, Colorado Avalanche (49.7%)
K’Andre Miller, New York Rangers (35.7%)
Gustav Forsling, Florida Panthers (51.0%)
Mike Matheson, Montreal Canadiens (38.2%)
Ryan Graves, New Jersey Devils (22.8%)
Deep league/Daily Fantasy value defensemen
J.J. Moser, Arizona Coyotes (16.4%)
Jake Walman, Detroit Red Wings (4.4%)
Adam Pelech, New York Islanders (4.8%)
Stuart Skinner, Edmonton Oilers (49.0%)
Philipp Grubauer (projected), Seattle Kraken (12.5%)
Filip Gustavsson (projected), Minnesota Wild (64.7%)
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