It's another busy Thursday in the NHL with 12 games on tap as the NHL passes the halfway mark of the season. Nashville dropped a 2-1 decision in Toronto on Wednesday and they are the only two tired teams, as the Predators are in Montreal, while Toronto takes on the Red Wings in Detroit. Seattle is in Boston, Winnipeg travels to Buffalo, Vancouver plays Tampa Bay, Dallas visits the Rangers in New York, Columbus hosts Carolina, the Islanders are home to the Wild, Calgary is in St. Louis, Chicago hosts Colorado, Ottawa visits Arizona and Florida is in Vegas. Below, you'll find suggested options for crafting an effective lineup.
Jordan Binnington, STL vs. CGY ($23): Binnington has won three of his last four games, including a 4-3 victory over Calgary on Tuesday in which he made 28 saves. The Flames remained in St. Louis for Thursday's tilt and Binnington is expected to get the start once again. He is 16-13-3 with a 3.26 GAA and an .892 save percentage, but his salary will allow you to get pricier players up front.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Connor Hellebuyck, WPG at BUF ($35): Hellebuyck is having a great year, going 20-10-1 with a 2.42 GAA and a .924 save percentage, but he gave up six goals on only 22 shots Tuesday in a loss in Detroit. He now takes on the high-scoring Sabres on the road Thursday. Hellebuyck was 1-1-0 against Buffalo last season, giving up six goals on 66 shots.
Nathan MacKinnon, COL at CHI ($35): MacKinnon missed 11 games with an upper-body injury but still has 39 points in 28 games this season. The 27-year-old center has three goals and five points in five games since returning to action, averaging 25:01 of ice time per game, and now he'll face the worst team in the NHL. He had a pair of helpers in the season opener against Chicago. The Avalanche are currently sitting 11th in the Western Conference standings, and while they do have multiple games in hand over seventh-place Calgary and eighth-place Edmonton, the defending Stanley Cup champions have a lot of work to do in order to make the postseason, and they need MacKinnon to lead the way.
CENTER TO AVOID
Steven Stamkos, TB vs. VAN ($29): While Stamkos has 17 goals and 45 points in 39 games, he has found the back of the net only once in his last 11 games. He does have 11 points in that stretch, but the salary he commands Thursday is not worth it and there are better choices. He had a goal in two games against the Canucks last season.
Filip Forsberg, NAS at MON ($23): Forsberg has been hot since returning from the Christmas break, scoring eight goals and adding four assists in eight games. Overall, Forsberg has 17 goals and 37 points in 40 games to lead the Predators in both categories. He had an assist in his lone game against the Canadiens this season and chipped in with a goal in his only game in 2021-22 versus Montreal.
Pavel Buchnevich, STL vs. CGY ($19): Buchnevich is on a six-game point streak in which he has two goals and nine points. He had a goal and an assist against the Flames on Tuesday, giving him 14 goals and 36 points in 33 games. Buchnevich sees first-line action with Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou, as well as first-unit power-play time, and he has seven goals and nine assists with the man advantage.
WINGS TO AVOID
Michael Bunting, TOR at DET ($21): Bunting has lost his center, as Auston Matthews missed Wednesday's game against Nashville with an undisclosed injury and is unlikely to play Thursday in Detroit. While he still has William Nylander on his line, Pierre Engvall as the third member of the unit is a big downgrade from Matthews. Bunting has not picked up a point in his last four games.
Kirill Kaprizov, MIN at NYI ($34): It's not that I don't like Kaprizov. I do. I just don't like his salary or the matchup against Ilya Sorokin, who is a top-three goaltender this season and sports a 2.30 GAA and .925 save percentage.
Cale Makar, COL at CHI ($31): Makar has a three-game point streak, scoring once and adding three assists. Makar has 10 goals and 38 points in 39 games, including four goals and 19 points on the power play. Chicago has only 10 wins and 24 points in 39 games. Makar sits fifth in NHL scoring among defensemen, and is tied for third in goals.
Jakob Chychrun, ARI vs. OTT ($21): Chychrun missed the first 16 games of the season recovering from wrist and ankle surgeries but has been a great addition to the lineup ever since, scoring five goals and adding 15 assists in only 24 games. He has been outstanding alongside Shayne Gostisbehere on the power play, scoring three times and adding two assists. Chychrun's name is constantly being bandied about in trade rumors, and he is giving other NHL teams every reason to deal for him.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Hampus Lindholm, BOS vs. SEA ($20): Lindholm scored Sunday to snap a four-game point drought. He does have five goals and 28 points in 40 games but is no longer on the Bruins' first power play and has seen a total of 1:05 of power play time in the last three games. Lindholm has a goal in three career games against Seattle, with all three games coming as a member of the Ducks last season.
Mark Giordano, TOR at DET ($15): Things have changed for Giordano since the return of Morgan Rielly as the senior blueliner sees no power play time and has only one assist in his last six games. Giordano has a goal and 13 points in 42 games, his worst totals since his rookie campaign of 2005-06 when he had an assist in seven games.