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NHL DFS: Friday picks and fades

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Friday's NHL slate is sandwiched between two busy days of action, so consider it a bit of a breather. No need to skip the day for DFS purposes, though! There are still four games taking place, and these are my recommendations for players to target and avoid.

GOALIE

Vitek Vanecek, WAS at ARI ($30): Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov have been splitting starts recently, but Samsonov hasn't been good this year, so Vanecek's role isn't really under threat. Though he only has a .909 save percentage, he has a 2.67 GAA in part because the Capitals have only allowed 29.1 shots on net per contest. The Coyotes have managed a league-low 25.9 shots on goal per game, so Vanecek might not even face 20 shots.

GOALIE TO AVOID

Mike Smith, EDM vs. COL ($31): The 40-year-old Smith has suddenly found the Fountain of Youth again. Over his last six games he's only allowed six goals. That being said, this is going to be a real challenge for him. The Avalanche are a little banged up right now, but they've still averaged 3.82 goals and 35.0 shots on net per contest.

CENTER

Josh Norris, OTT at CLM ($22): Norris has exploded this season with 33 goals in 61 games. He also has 15 points in his last 14 contests. The Blue Jackets, meanwhile have a 3.68 GAA and have allowed 35.3 shots on net per game. Both are bottom four in the NHL.

CENTER TO AVOID

Leon Draisaitl, EDM vs. COL ($34): The Oilers have the clear worst matchup of any team Friday. Since the start of the new year, Darcy Kuemper has a 2.23 GAA and .933 save percentage. Draisaitl is, of course, one of the highest-scoring players in the NHL, but he also has a lofty salary. With few tough matchups Friday, you can avoid the risk.

WING

Drake Batherson, OTT at CLM ($17): Batherson has started 64.7 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, highest on the Senators. That's helped him tally 40 points in 41 games. As I noted, the Blue Jackets have a 3.68 GAA, which is fourth highest in the league.

Ottawa Senators right wing Drake Batherson (19) is an intriguing NHL DFS play tonight
Consider Drake Batherson in your NHL DFS lineups tonight. (Photo by Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

T.J. Oshie, WAS at ARI ($16): As per usual, Oshie is getting plenty of power-play time with the Capitals. He's averaged 3:18 per game with the extra man, notching nine power-play points in 39 games. Now he gets to face the Coyotes, who have a bottom-two penalty kill.

WINGS TO AVOID

Zach Hyman, EDM vs. COL ($17): Again, this is on paper the toughest matchup Friday, at least if you don't believe Smith can keep up his current level of play as I do. Kuemper has a 2.43 GAA and .924 save percentage, although the Avalanche do have the 18th-ranked penalty kill. However, Hyman only has nine power-play points in 71 games, so he may not be able to take advantage of that.

Jordan Eberle, SEA at MIN ($14): Eberle is one goal away from his first 20-goal season since 2017-18, and he is facing the Wild when they are on the second leg of a back-to-back. This might not be as good of an opportunity as you think, though. Marc-Andre Fleury will likely be in net, and since joining the Wild he has a 2.59 GAA and .921 save percentage.

DEFENSE

Zach Werenski, CLM vs. OTT ($22): The Senators have allowed 33.2 shots on net per contest, not quite as many as the Blue Jackets, but still a hefty number. Werenski is the rare defenseman who leads his team in shots on net. He's put 215 shots on goal in 61 games. Now, Werenski did miss Columbus' last game, so it's possible he won't play. If he can't play, it will mean a larger role for Vladislav Gavrikov ($14). The Russian is second on the Jackets in points (33) and shots on net (99) among defensemen. Considering this a secondary recommendation in case Werenski can't go.

Dmitry Orlov, WAS at ARI ($17): Orlov has set career highs in goals (12) and points (35), including a four-point game recently. The Coyotes, meanwhile, have a 3.79 GAA and have allowed 35.7 shots on net per contest. The latter is second highest in the NHL.

DEFENSE TO AVOID

Jared Spurgeon, MIN vs. SEA ($20): The Wild are the only team on the second leg of a back-to-back Friday. Sure, they are at home, but that's not nothing. Plus, Philipp Grubauer has decent numbers recently. He only has a .910 save percentage over his last eight starts, but a 2.37 GAA.

Darnell Nurse, EDM vs. COL ($18): Nurse will be facing Kuemper and his .924 save percentage. Additionally, the defenseman has only averaged 1:10 per game with the extra man, so he won't likely see much time against Colorado's 18th-ranked penalty kill.