This article is part of our DraftKings NHL series.
Thursday's NHL slate has 10 games on the schedule after 7:00 p.m. EDT. Below, you'll find a breakdown of the action and suggested options for crafting an effective lineup.
While most games are expected to be quite competitive, a few teams stand out as favorites to build around. The Hurricanes are by far the largest favorites at home against Buffalo, though the Sabres just beat them Tuesday. Elsewhere in the slate are three road teams expected to take care of business against weak competition, as the Flames travel to San Jose, the Canucks visit Arizona and the Predators take on Ottawa. Buffalo-Carolina and Nashville-Ottawa are two of six games that come in with an over/under of 6.5 goals, along with Canadiens-Devils, Flyers-Blue Jackets, Maple Leafs-Stars and Kraken-Blackhawks.
Juuse Saros, NSH at OTT ($8,300): Saros has been a bit inconsistent lately, but arguably his strongest recent start came March 29 against the Senators, when he stopped 36 of 37 shots en route to his 32nd win. The workhorse netminder has added two more victories to his ledger since then, and he's likely to put forth another strong performance against an Ottawa offense that's averaging only 2.70 goals per game.
Elvis Merzlikins, CLS vs. PHI ($7,900): Merzlikins submitted one of his best starts of the season in Tuesday's road win over the Flyers, making 47 saves in the 4-2 win. Between Columbus' porous defense allowing plenty of shots and Philadelphia's lack of quality finishers, Merzlikins could post a similarly busy yet effective performance in this rematch. The Blue Jackets allow a league-high 35.6 shots per game, while the Flyers average 2.57 goals – third-fewest in the league.
Igor Shesterkin, NYR vs. PIT ($7,600): Shesterkin has been in a bit of a slump lately, but his 2-2-1 record in his last five starts includes two wins over the Penguins, and Pittsburgh has gotten just four pucks by him over the course of three meetings this season. The Vezina trophy front-runner is a bargain at $7,600 given his 32-10-4 record, 2.14 GAA and .933 save percentage.
Philipp Grubauer, SEA at CHI ($7,100): Grubauer's an appealing bargain option against a Blackhawks team that's averaging only 2.63 goals per game. The German netminder has gone 3-3-0 in his last six starts, beating the Canadiens, Red Wings and Coyotes while losing to the Lightning, Kings and Golden Knights. While he's struggled against playoff contenders, Grubauer has beaten the teams that are out of the hunt, and Chicago certainly falls in the bottom-feeder category.
Mitch Marner, TOR at DAL ($7,500): The Stars are stout defensively, but Marner has been matchup-proof throughout his seven-game multi-point streak and 11-game point streak. The star winger has eight goals and 18 assists during the latter stretch, and if you're going to build around one Toronto player, it's easier to do so with Marner at $7,500 than Matthews at $9,600.
Nico Hischier, NJ vs. MON ($5,200): The Devils lost one recent first overall pick at center when they announced that Jack Hughes has been shut down for the season due to a sprained MCL, but they still have one left. Hichier has a 3-9-12 line in his last 10 games and should lead the team's offense in Hughes' absence. This home matchup with a Canadiens team that's allowing 3.80 goals per game offers a nice opportunity for the 2017 first overall pick and team captain to lead by example.
Cole Caufield, MON at NJ ($4,600): Caufield has a two-game goal streak going, and he has managed to light the lamp 15 times in 25 games since Marty St. Louis took over as Montreal's interim head coach. The preseason Calder Trophy favorite is finally playing like it, and a matchup with a Devils team that's battling a couple of critical injuries and giving up 3.67 goals per game should allow Caufield to continue flourishing.
Scott Laughton, PHI at CLS ($3,600): Laughton was quiet Tuesday in his return to the lineup, but that can be chalked up to him getting back up to speed after missing nearly a month due to a concussion. Prior to sustaining the injury, he had been playing the most productive hockey of his career, with a 5-8-13 line over his previous 15 games. The Blue Jackets allow 3.70 goals per game, so don't be surprised if Laughton finds his form in this rematch.
Nino Niederreiter, CAR vs. BUF ($3,200): Niederreiter's a nice value play at just $3,200. The middle-six winger led Carolina's offense with a goal, an assist and five shots in Tuesday's loss to the Sabres. The goal was Niederreiter's fifth in the last seven games, and this recent hot streak has propelled him over the 20-goal mark for the sixth time in the past eight seasons.
FORWARD LINE STACKS
Predators at Senators
Nashville's first line has a nice mix of production and affordability. Johansen's coming off a three-goal, seven-shot outburst against Minnesota, and the five-time 60-point scorer is on pace to reach that mark for the sixth time with a 20-34-54 line through 66 games. Forsberg should be worth paying up for, as his 38-32-70 line in just 56 games includes an 11-13-24 output over the past 13. Tomasino has an 11-17-28 line overall after posting a goal and two assists in the previous game, and he'll be a bargain at his minimal $2,500 valuation as long as he maintains his spot on the top line.
Flames at Sharks
This has been one of the most productive lines in the league all season, and that's unlikely to change against a Sharks team that's winless in its last four games. Gaudreau's 7-11-18 line in the past nine games has bumped him up to fourth in league scoring with a 34-63-97 line. Tkachuk isn't too far behind, ranking eighth in the league with 86 points (33-53-86). Lindholm leads the team in goals and is also above a point per game with a 36-35-71 line through 70 games.
Canucks at Coyotes
Vancouver's top line has been rolling of late and should continue to do so against an Arizona team that ranks among the five most generous defensively with 3.57 goals allowed per game. Miller has been excellent all season, as his 29-55-84 line has him tied for 10th in the league in points. Pettersson's two-goal, two-assist game Wednesday in Vegas was his third two-goal outing in the past five games, while Pearson lit the lamp Wednesday as well and has 12 shots in his last four games.
Tony DeAngelo, CAR vs. BUF ($6,300): It feels like DeAngelo's on the verge of snapping his seven-game goal drought, as he's put four pucks on net in each of the last three games. Even if he fails to light the lamp himself, DeAngelo's playmaking ability should help him produce against a Sabres team that's allowing 3.48 goals per game. His 10-35-45 line in 52 games works out to a rate of 0.87 points per game, which is ninth-best among blueliners with at least five appearances.
Sean Durzi, LA vs. EDM ($4,700): A silver lining around Los Angeles' recent rash of injuries on the blue line is that it paved the way for Durzi's emergence as a strong two-way contributor. In his last seven games, Durzi has complemented a 1-5-6 line with 14 shots and 22 blocked shots, notching multiple blocks in every game. His well-rounded game makes Durzi a high-floor option in a possible first-round playoff preview that should feature plenty of scoring chances at both ends.
Mattias Ekholm, NSH at OTT ($3,900): Ekholm has been Roman Josi-like over the past three games, notching five assists, seven shots and nine blocked shots. Stretching back a little further, he's been generating chances consistently with two goals on 27 shots over the past nine games. At a whopping $5,000 less than Josi, Ekholm should offer better bang for the buck in this favorable matchup.
Braden Schneider, NYR vs. PIT ($2,500): With so many pricey star skaters to choose from in this slate, it's important to find spots at which to cut costs. If you want to do so along the blue line, consider locking in Schneider at the minimum $2,500 valuation. New York's 2020 first-round pick is starting to produce more consistently at the NHL level, as Schneider has a 1-2-3 line over his past four games. He's still thinking defense-first just 32 games into his NHL career, and Schneider has been decent on that end as well, notching 11 blocked shots over the past five games.