This article is part of our DraftKings NHL series.
There's no dearth of star power in the first ever Stanley Cup Finals matchup between the Lightning and Stars. Tampa are favorites in this series, with no apparent weaknesses as they boast a deep forward corps, a well-rounded defense anchored by Victor Hedman and an all-world goalie in Andrei Vasilevskiy.
The Stars are in familiar position as the underdogs, having dispatched the favored Avalanche and Golden Knights to get here. On the backs of incredible goaltending from Anton Khudobin and timely goals from all four lines, they carry significant momentum and a few extra days' rest into Game 1.
This will be the first time in NHL history both finalists are located in the southern belt, though all the games will be played in Edmonton. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. EDT. All salaries reflected are for FLEX spots.
Andrei Vasilevskiy, TB vs. DAL ($10,400): The three-time Vezina finalist has arguably been the best goalie this postseason. According to Natural Stat Trick, Vasilevskiy leads all goalies with a 6.64 GSAA (min. 600 TOI) at even strength and ranks first with a .941 save percentage. The Islanders series was grueling, but Vasilevskiy didn't face a lot of shots and should be quite fresh.
Anton Khudobin, DAL vs. TB ($10,000): Khudobin has carried the Stars this far, even though his underlying numbers aren't exactly elite. His 0.77 GSAA ranks fifth among goalies with a minimum of 600 minutes played at even strength, though his save percentage in high-danger areas (.872) is slightly higher than Vasilevskiy's (.836). The Stars can also claim a solid defense, but the Lightning boast the superior offense and will likely end up outshooting the Stars. That gives Khudobin the higher floor in saves.
Denis Gurianov, DAL vs. TB ($6,600): Gurianov has consistently supplied offense for the Stars and his 19.1 S% is a little eyebrow-raising but not completely out of the ordinary. His career 13.5 S% is above the league average and opposing teams have to respect his shot on the power play. The drawback for Gurianov is the lack of volume, as he averages around 14 minutes a game and doesn't get many opportunities to shoot the puck. He's tied for the team lead in goals with 9 but ranks ninth in TOI/GP.
Anthony Cirelli, TB vs. DAL ($6,200): Cirelli's offensive upside is capped because he's not a particularly talented scorer, but he receives the top assignments and consistently gets shots on net. Cirelli's line with Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn posted the best CF% in Game 6 with 18 shot attempts and only four against and his 5.59 differential between xGF (10.59) and GF (5) at even strength is tops on the team, meaning his luck may turn soon.
Corey Perry, DAL vs. TB ($3,400): This represents a deep value play because Perry hasn't scored since Game 2 against Calgary and his shooting percentage is half of what his career averages are because he's no longer an elite net-front presence. However, he's among the few Stars' forwards whose xGF (8.14) is higher than his GF at even strength (3).
They've been very good all playoffs and it's a relatively inexpensive line stack. Both teams offer decent depth up front, but Tampa has the slight edge in overall quality. If the top units cancel each other out, this could be the trio that ends up shining.
Victor Hedman, TB vs. DAL ($9,200): Hedman is the surest thing on Tampa's blue line and the added bonus has been his elite scoring. He's the most expensive player not named Nikita Kucherov, but still makes for a worthwhile selection due to his significant ice time. And the Bolts have been heavily utilizing Hedman's point shot on the power play recently.
Miro Heiskanen, DAL vs. TB ($7,800): It'll be interesting to see how Heiskanen and John Klingberg will handle the Lightning forecheck. Tampa are quick and so were the Knights, and Heiskanen was held to just one assist that series. He's the jewel among Stars defensemen, but expecting him to be a consistent source of points seems to be asking for too much.
Esa Lindell, DAL vs. TB ($5,200): With FLEX spots, there doesn't seem to be any incentive to pick defensemen other than the elite ones. However, Lindell comes in as an intriguing option due to his shot blocking proficiency. The Lightning have been outshooting their opponents all postseason, and the Stars are another team that like to absorb hits until they get a chance to counterattack.