The first weekend after the All-Star break is one where GM’s around the league analyze where they stand and make decisions for what’s best for their respective team as the trade deadline approaches. With many teams straddling the “buyers/sellers” line, these next two weeks could determine the fate of their seasons. Saturday’s slate features 22 teams that will lace up their skates, with the first puck hitting the Bell Centre ice in Montreal at 1PM Eastern. After looking over all of the options, here are my top picks for FanDuel.com.
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Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers, $9,900 - Lundqvist was perfect for 56 minutes against Montreal on Thursday before being fooled by a Max Pacioretty wrister that he’d like to have back which sunk the Rangers in a 1-0 defeat. He’ll look to bounce back tonight and that matchup at home versus Carolina is terrific. He’s defeated the Hurricanes in both prior starts against them this season (1.39 GAA and .940 SV%) and Carolina enters tonight’s game sporting the lowest shooting percentage in the NHL (7.14%). Lundqvist has posted a 1.84 GAA through his fist nine starts of January and will look to close out the month with one last “W” tonight.
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers, $8,100 - Giroux had his four-game point streak snapped against Winnipeg on Thursday, but still comes in as one of my favorite plays of the day tonight. The Flyers will host a struggling Maple Leafs team who, after losing 3-1 to Arizona on Thursday, has now dropped eight straight games. Giroux absolutely torched the Maple Leafs in their only prior meeting this season, scoring a pair of goals and adding two assists in Philadelphia’s 7-4 beat down of Toronto back before Christmas. He’s been dominant at the Wells Fargo Center, scoring 7 goals and adding 22 assists in just 24 home games and his 25 power-play points are the most in the NHL.
Valtteri Filppula, Tampa Bay Lightning, $5,200 - While he’s listed as a center on FanDuel, he has actually slid over to the left-side to play alongside Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan on Tampa’s top forward line. Since joining the Lightning for the beginning of the 2013-14 season, Filppula’s home road splits have been extreme; in 64 home games he’s racked up 19 goals and 40 assists (and a +8) in 64 games versus just 15 goals and 17 assists (and a -13) in 61 road games. Luckily for him, Tampa Bay hosts the Sergei Bobrovsky-less Columbus Blue Jackets this evening and he should be able to take advantage of the matchup that Corsi suggests to be the biggest mismatch on the board. Filppula shifts to the point on the team’s top power-play unit, where he can use his vision and creativity to exploit the Blue Jacket’s subpar 79.6% penalty kill. His linemates may be the more popular picks, but Filppula looks to be a bargain tonight.
Jiri Hudler, Calgary Flames, $5,900 - Hudler’s offensive talents have never been in doubt, and he’s finally putting it all together this season and looks poised to cruise past his career high of 57 points. Tonight he’ll take aim at an Edmonton team who has allowed 3.39 goals per game on the road and who he posted a goal and three assists against in their three prior meetings this season. The biggest “knock” on Hudler’s game is his small frame, but with this being a battle between two of the NHL’s smallest teams, he should find plenty of open ice to show off his offensive skill set.
Bobby Ryan, Ottawa Senators, $7,400 - Ryan’s last season with, and subsequent departure from, Anaheim seemed odd, and after another mediocre season last year with his new team and a slow start to the 2014-15 season, his doubters were out in force. However, after racking up 9 goals and 14 assists in his last 22 games (4.14 FDP/game during that stretch), they’re nowhere to be found now. Ryan has thrived at the Scotiabank Place this season where he owns that same 9 goals/14 assists combo in 20 home games. This afternoon he’ll take on an Arizona team that has dropped seven of their last eight games and who have allowed 3.29 goals against per game on the road this season. Ryan leads all of Ottawa’s forwards in power-play points as well as average power-play ice time per game, which should bode well for him against Arizona’s 27th ranked penalty kill.
Evander Kane, Winnipeg Jets - $7,400 – As the fourth overall pick from the 2009 NHL draft, expectations have been high for Kane throughout his time in Atlanta/Winnipeg. After scoring 30 goals as a 20 year old during the 2011-12 season, he looked destined for stardom. However, a myriad of minor injuries has slowed his growth over the past few years, but he’s starting to get things rolling once again. Over the last seven games, Kane has picked up four goals and grabbed three assists. Tonight he’ll take on a Dallas team who happen to be the fastest paced team in the league, which is also a team he scored against when they met earlier this year. Kane has never been afraid to shoot the puck and, considering Kari Lehtonen’s ugly 3.40 GAA and .886 SV% this month, I expect him to find the back of the net once again tonight.
Milan Lucic, Boston Bruins, $6,500 – In a battle between two of the most disappointing teams in their respective conferences, these two potential Cup contenders find themselves battling simply for a playoff spot. With Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand likely being asked to try and shut down the Gaborik/Kopitar/Brown line, the weight of Boston’s offense will fall on the Lucic/Krejci/Smith line. Lucic has picked up a goal and three assists over the last two games and has now scored four goals and six assists in 11 games this month. One of the Kings’ glaring weaknesses has been their 25th ranked penalty kill where Lucic will use his size to disrupt Jonathan Quick down in front of the net.
Johnny Boychuck, New York Islanders, $5,400 - I don’t think anything has more to do with the Islanders ascent to top of the Metropolitan Division this season more than the acquisition of two solid blue-liners in the offseason in Johnny Boychuck from Boston and Nick Leddy from Chicago. As for Boychuck, he’s tallied a pair of assists in back-to-back games and has now picked up one goal and eight assists in 11 games this month. He’s a mortal lock to see north of 20 minutes of ice-time per game against Detroit this afternoon and his real fantasy upside today comes on the point of the team’s #1 power-play unit. He leads all Islander defensemen in both average power-play time per game and power-play points (10). On the surface, Detroit’s 82.% penalty kill doesn’t look too bad and actually ranks tenth in the league, however they own the NHL’s worst penalty kill in January (at just 63.9% or 23 for 36).
Mark Streit, Philadelphia Flyers, $5,100 – Streit has been one of the hottest defensemen in the league this month, posting three goals and eight assists in 13 January games. Tonight he’ll take on the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs at the Wells Fargo Center where he’s been terrific this season, racking up four goals and 17 assists in just 24 home games. Streit is averaging over 22 minutes per game this season and leads the Flyers in average ice-time per game on the power-play (3:50) where his 20 power-play points ranks second among defensemen in the NHL,