Yahoo DFS Hockey: Thursday Picks

Sasha Yodashkin
Neil Parker picks the Monday Yahoo NHL slate, including Philadelphia's Shayne Gostisbehere, whose price is suppressed following a four-game drought.

Thursday's NHL slate is one of the season's busiest, with 24 teams in action. The night's premier matchup is a clash of Metro Division powerhouses with first-place Washington playing host to the third-place Islanders, though the game between their Pacific counterparts (Kings and Ducks) should be equally as intense. While those two games have a lot of significance in the standings, they are far from guaranteed to have the night's greatest fantasy impact. There are many valid winning strategies with so many possibilities to choose from, but the players listed below should receive heavy consideration for lineups due to their high potential and reliability compared to their prices.

GOALIE

Henrik Lundqvist, NYR vs. MIN ($38) -
Lundqvist has been tremendous at home this season, going 15-3-2 with a 2.24 GAA and .922 save percentage at Madison Square Garden heading into the All-Star break. With legions of fans awaiting his first home appearance since Jan. 25, chances are Lundqvist won't disappoint against a Minnesota squad that opened the second half with a road loss to the slightly less successful New York team.

Goalie to Avoid:

Cam Talbot ($37) -
Talbot has been playing much better lately, but his 10-15-3 record, 2.54 GAA and .916 save percentage still leave much to be desired. the Senators boast the league's seventh-best offense, so spending $37 on Talbot against them is a dicey proposition.

CENTER

Connor McDavid, EDM at OTT ($20) -
McDavid returned from a shoulder injury in style Tuesday, reminding the world why he went first overall in the 2015 NHL draft by recording three points against the Blue Jackets. While it's true that Columbus is the league's worst defensive team, Ottawa is right on its tail. McDavid's last performance demonstrated that the rookie's long-term injury didn't sap his ability to dominate vulnerable opponents, and you won't find a more talented scorer with a better opportunity for just $20.

Center to Avoid:

Brock Nelson, NYI vs. WS ($22) -
Many will see Nelson's six goals in his last six games and be tempted to play the Islanders' leading goal-scorer, but a number of mitigating factors make him a far-from-ideal play. The talented Capitals will be hungry to appease fans after being smacked at home by the panthers, and Nelson's third-line role won't provide him the mix of ice time and talented linemates necessary to overcome such a daunting matchup.

WING

Jannik Hansen, VAN vs. CLS ($19) -
The Blue Jackets continued their losing ways in their first post-All Star break appearance by giving up five goals to the Oilers, so the Canucks should be licking their chops heading into this home matchup with the NHL's worst team. Hansen specifically should be looking forward to this game, as he's the lucky man who gets to skate on the first line with Daniel (and possibly Henrik if healthy) Sedin. The Dane has had the whole All-Star break to prepare for this opportunity and is a steal at just $19, considering he's only one game removed from a hat trick.

Artemi Panarin, CHI at ARI ($20) -
Panarin scored Tuesday in Colorado, picking up right where he left off as a member of the NHL's most dominant line alongside Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov. The Calder Trophy candidate already has 47 points in 54 games, including a goal in his only previous meeting with the Coyotes. Arizona's shoddy defense gives up more than three goals per game, so expect the Panarin-Kane-Anisimov combo to factor into at least one of Chicago's tallies in what promises to be a high-scoring game for the Blackhawks.

Wings to Avoid:

Patrick Sharp, DAL at COL ($25) -
Sharp hasn't scored a goal in more than a month, going 10 games since his last tally on Jan. 3. His six assists in that span are nice, but Sharp has been far from a $25 asset lately considering he also has a minus-5 rating in the last month.

Nick Foligno, CLS at VAN ($22) -
Foligno has just one assist in four games since returning from an upper-body injury. Considering he plays for the Blue jackets, the rest of Foligno's resume isn't good enough to make him a lineup-worthy player if he isn't scoring.

DEFENSE

Shayne Gostisbehere, PHI at NSH ($21) -
Gostisbehere's five-game point streak has propelled him to the NHL lead in points among rookie defensemen, even though he has only played 30 games. He sports a wonderful all-around resume with a plus-5 rating and 68 shots on goal to go with his eight goals and 15 assists and is still underpriced at $21 considering how much better he is on a per-game basis compared to the other defensemen in his price range. Until Gostisbehere shows signs of slowing down, he deserves recognition as one of the league's premier offensive threats from the blueline.

Zdeno Chara, BOS at BUF ($18) -
Chara has been remarkably consistent lately, topping 6.0 fantasy points in nine of his last 11 games. His high blocked-shot and shots-on-goal totals allow the veteran to maintain a high floor, but Chara's booming slapshot and excellent vision have also let him pick up 27 points through 48 games played with the high-scoring Bruins this season. it's tough to find such a complete player for just $18, and his matchup with the lowly Sabres just makes Chara all the more appealing.

Defenseman to Avoid:

Oliver Ekman-Larsson, ARI vs. CHI ($23) -
Thursday's fifth-most expensive defenseman does a lot of his damage on the man advantage, making up for a subpar minus-4 rating with 16 power-play points. Chicago's top-10 penalty kill should make it difficult for Ekman-Larsson to excel in that area, while their even-strength dominance leads to significant plus/minus-related downside for the Swede.

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