This article is part of our DraftKings NHL series.
The puck officially drops on the 2019-20 NHL season Wednesday, with a four-game slate starting at 7:00 PM Eastern time. The recommendations below should help DFS owners get their seasons off to a strong start.
Most eyes will be on the matchup between the last two Stanley Cup Champions — Washington and St. Louis — but the best fantasy plays will likely be found in other games. Plenty of Maple Leafs will be popular picks at home against an Ottawa team that's widely expected to finish last in the league. The top-heavy Oilers offer star power at home against a young Canucks club, and Sharks-Golden Knights should feature plenty of offense after the seven-game series between the teams last postseason saw an average of 6.9 combined goals scored per game.
Toronto's Frederik Andersen ($8,400) is this slate's most expensive player for a reason, as the Maple Leafs are heavily favored at home against Ottawa, while the other three contests project to be more competitive. It's worth noting, however, that while the Senators allowed a league-high 3.67 goals per game last season, they actually ranked middle of the pack offensively with 2.95 goals per game.
With Evgeny Kuznetsov suspended and Alex Ovechkin potentially hampered by a lower-body injury for Washington, Jordan Binnington ($7,800) could be a sneaky-good play in net after leading the Blues to the Stanley Cup with a 2.46 GAA and .914 save percentage in the postseason following stellar 1.89 and .927 regular-season marks.
Vancouver's 2.67 goals per game last season were fewest among the eight teams in action on Opening Night, so owners looking to save money in net should roll with Edmonton's Mikko Koskinen ($7,200) in net against the Canucks.
Only Chicago killed off a lower percentage of opposing power plays than Edmonton's 74.8 percent last season. J.T. Miller ($4,200) racked up 20 points with the extra man for the Lightning last year, and the offseason acquisition is expected to be a mainstay on the top power-play unit with Vancouver.
Kevin Labanc ($4,700) was one of seven Sharks to score at least 56 points last season. Joe Pavelski is no longer on the team, while the other five Sharks to hit that threshold all cost at least $5,800. That makes Labanc — who's expected to skate on the top line — a great value play relative to his teammates.
Lars Eller ($4,500) is expected to move into the second-line center role while Kuznetsov sits. Add in Eller's usual spot on the No. 2 power-play unit, and he'll be in prime position to get his season started off on the right foot despite the difficult matchup.
FORWARD LINE STACKS
Maple Leafs vs. Senators
This line features two of Toronto's top three forwards in Kapanen and Tavares, with Auston Matthews ($7,700) working on a separate unit. Tavares and Marner combined for 182 points last season, and Kapanen's no slouch, coming off a 20-goal, 44-point season. Ottawa was the league's most generous defensive team last year and could be even worse this season.
Oilers vs. Canucks
It looks like the Oilers are striving for balance by keeping McDavid and Leon Draisaitl ($7,000) separated at even strength to start the year. As a result, you can lock in Edmonton's entire top line for less than it would cost you to grab Toronto's top two forwards. Neal is particularly intriguing, as he's coming off a down year but scored 40 goals when flanking Sidney Crosby in 2011-12 and has the finishing skills to convert McDavid's feeds.
Golden Knights vs. Sharks
The William Karlsson - Jonathan Marchessault - Reilly Smith line is generally thought of as Vegas' best, but the team's other top-six group is primed to thrive in what should be a high-scoring opener, especially with San Jose's top line likely to counter the Karlsson-led group. Pacioretty in particular is the guy to watch on this line after totaling four goals and 10 points in four preseason games to pace the entire NHL in production. Stone was the biggest thorn in San Jose's side when these teams met last postseason with six goals and 12 points in seven games, while Stastny added eight points in that series.
Like Miller, Alexander Edler ($5,100) should capitalize on Edmonton's vulnerable penalty kill. Edler ranked third on the team with 17 power-play points in 2018-19 despite missing 26 games.
Toronto's Morgan Rielly ($6,200) ranked third in the league with 72 points last season, so expect him to get in on the offensive fireworks alongside the team's forwards.
The second-worst 2018-19 penalty kill in this slate actually belongs to Washington (78.9 percent). The Blues brought in Justin Faulk ($4,800) in large part for his power-play prowess — he's averaged 6.4 goals and 15.8 points with the extra man over the past five seasons — and he could ingratiate himself to his new fan base right away with a strong performance in this favorable matchup.
Brent Burns ($7,000) is the consensus No. 1 defenseman in the fantasy realm, and the only reason to avoid him here is his lofty valuation. If you fill out your forward group and still have money to spend, there's no reason not to lock Burns in.