Now that we are a couple weeks into the new NHL season, I want to start focusing more on team numbers from this season, as opposed to the previous campaign. Yes, the sample size is small, but because of lineup changes, coaching changes, et al, I feel like we are nearing a point where this year's numbers are more illuminating. There are nine NHL games Thursday. Here are some players to target, and to avoid, for your daily fantasy lineup.
Connor Hellebuyck, WPG vs. NYI ($35): Hellebuyck's last start didn't go well, but he still has a .919 save percentage this season. We're a couple seasons removed from his campaign with a 2.36 GAA and .924 save percentage, but that showed the level of potential he has. The Islanders got by on goal prevention last year, but their offense wasn't great. Indeed, this year they are only putting 27.5 shots on net per contest.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Carey Price, MON vs. MIN ($32): Price has been consistent this season, just not it a good way. He's allowed three goals in four of his five starts, and he allowed five in his other outing. The Canadiens have also given up 34.0 shots on net per game. While Minnesota has struggled to score, it has put 32.0 shots on net per contest, so I'm still a little skeptical about Price at the moment.
Paul Stastny, VGK vs. OTT ($18): While Stastny started the year with four games without a point, he now has six points through his last three outings. You probably remember that the Senators finished last in the league in GAA last year. This season they have a 3.80 GAA and are still relying on Craig Anderson (.906 save percentage) in goal.
CENTER TO AVOID
Ryan Johansen, NAS at ARI ($20): Johansen has seven points through six games, though his 28.6 percent shooting is destined to drop. He hasn't had more than 14 goals in any of his last four campaigns. The Coyotes were surprisingly good in net last year thanks to the duo of Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta. This year the 'Yotes have a 1.80 GAA through five games.
Pavel Buchnevich, NYR at NJD ($18): The Rangers have only played in three games, so they have a small sample size even compared to the rest of the samples from around the NHL. All I know is that Buchnevich has been slated on New York's top line with Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin and is on the top power-play unit. That's a great place to be. Meanwhile, the Devils have a 4.50 GAA to start the year.
Dustin Brown, LOS vs. BUF ($17): Brown is off to a hot start, as he has six points through six games. None of those have come on the power play yet, but he's had nine power-play goals in each of his last two campaigns. The Sabres have been good defensively to start the year, but with the same goalies they were in the bottom 10 in GAA last season. Plus, they are the only team on the road for the second game of a back-to-back Thursday.
WINGS TO AVOID
Nikita Kucherov, TAM at BOS ($35): Kucherov is off to a hot start to nobody's surprise, but he's also an expensive player. That poses a risk on the road against the Bruins. The Bruins have a 1.67 GAA and .944 save percentage to start the year, and last year they had a 2.59 GAA.
Jaden Schwartz, STL vs. VAN ($17): Last year, Schwartz was surprisingly held to only 11 goals in 69 games, owing in part to a surprisingly poor 6.0 percent shooting. Regression hasn't come this year, as he has zero goals through six games. More concerning is the fact he's only put six shots on net. The Canucks are off to a hot start defensively, as they have a 2.20 GAA and the second-ranked penalty kill.
Jacob Trouba, NYR at NJD ($21): The Rangers are giving their new headlining defenseman plenty of opportunity, as he's played 23:55 per game and averaged 3:39 with the extra man. In fact, two of his four points have come on the power play. While it is early, to start the season the Devils have the league's worst penalty kill.
Shea Theodore, VGK vs. OTT ($19): Theodore had a bit of a breakout campaign last year, as he notched 12 goals and 202 shots on net. This year, he's got five points through seven games and put 14 shots on goal. The Senators have a 3.80 GAA, and this comes after they had a 3.67 GAA last season, worst in the NHL.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Thomas Chabot, OTT at VGK ($20): Chabot is shouldering a huge load for the Senators. He's averaged 26:00 in ice time, including 4:27 with the extra man. However, perhaps owing to a lack of talent around him, he has only two points, neither of which have come on the power play. Even coming off a bad start, Marc-Andre Fleury has a 2.56 GAA and .922 save percentage. On top of that, the Golden Knights have the third-ranked penalty kill.
Mattias Ekholm, NAS at ARI ($18): Ekholm has five points through six games, but his 15.4 percent shooting will fall. Also, the loss of P.K. Subban has not led to more power-play time for the Swede, as he's only played 0:35 per game with the extra man. Now he has to face an Arizona team with desert-hot goaltending, as its netminders have a .945 save percentage.