DraftKings NHL: Thursday Breakdown

DraftKings NHL: Thursday Breakdown

This article is part of our DraftKings NHL series.

Thursday's 10-game NHL slate begins at 7:00 p.m. EST. Below, you'll find a breakdown of the action and suggested options for crafting an effective lineup.


There's no shortage of enticing options to build around Thursday, so constructing the best lineup will come down to choosing which elite offense(s) to feature and what value options to put around your cornerstones. Four of the league's top five teams in goals per game are in action, and they all have favorable matchups: the Avalanche are in Montreal, while the Panthers, Wild and Capitals will host the Sabres, Devils and Blackhawks, respectively. That's not even accounting for the top-10 Carolina offense, which should also feast on home ice against Ottawa. There are more than enough options in those games alone to build your lineup a few times over, and there's still a whole nother half of the slate to pick from as well.


Justus Annunen, COL at MON ($6,500): An injury in Colorado's net has created a rare value opportunity, as you might be able to snag their starting netminder for a measly $6,500 against a Montreal team that's averaging only 2.29 goals per game. Darcy Kuemper suffered an upper-body injury just before Wednesday's game in Toronto, and the Avs almost certainly won't want to give Jonas Johansson a second start in as many nights after the Maple Leafs shelled him for eight goals. The logical choice is to go with Annunen, who was freshly called up from the AHL, but make sure Colorado indeed does so if you plan to lock in the 21-year-old Finn.

Jacob Markstrom, CGY at LA ($7,200): It's not clear why Markstrom is available for just $7,200, but you should take this deal and run. He's in the Vezina conversation with a 9-4-4 record, 1.75 GAA and .938 save percentage, while the reeling Kings have won only once in their last seven games and have a bottom-10 offense overall (2.67 goals per game).

Ilya Samsonov, WAS vs. CHI ($8,400): Samsonov will be eager to bounce back from his first regulation loss of the season Tuesday in Florida, where he almost withstood a 27-shot third-period barrage, only to allow the game-winning goal with 15 seconds remaining. His 9-1-1 record, 2.52 GAA and .915 save percentage still aren't too shabby at all, and a visit from a Blackhawks team that's averaging just 2.10 goals per game should help Samsonov get back on track.

Adin Hill, SJ at NYI ($7,600): Hill has been surpassed by James Reimer as the top option in San Jose's net, but the 25-year-old offseason trade acquisition is still a big part of the Sharks' goaltending plans, both in the present and the future. He has a great opportunity to build some confidence back up here, as the Sharks will visit an Islanders team that's averaging only 1.88 goals per game and had dropped eight straight before getting nearly a week off to deal with a COVID-19 outbreak. Hill and the Sharks will try to avoid going down in the history books as the first visitors to lose at UBS Arena, providing additional motivation to stifle the impotent Islanders attack. 


Nathan MacKinnon, COL at MON ($8,700): MacKinnon chipped in two helpers and five shots Wednesday in his first action since Nov. 6, so his lower-body injury is no longer a concern. He has 12 points in nine appearances despite a paltry 3.6 shooting percentage, which should rebound in the direction of his career 9.9 percent mark before much longer. This matchup with Montreal presents an excellent opportunity for positive regression, as the Canadiens have been the league's most fantasy-friendly opponents for centers.

Jonathan Huberdeau, FLA vs. BUF ($7,000): The Panthers have cooled off just a bit as a team since Aleksander Barkov (knee) got hurt, but Huberdeau's still producing at a high level personally. The high-scoring winger has been held off the scoresheet only once in his last eight games, compiling a 3-7-10 line over that span to bump him above a point-per-game pace for the season (23 in 22). A Sabres team that's allowed 33 goals during its current 1-5-1 skid is unlikely to slow Huberdeau down.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi, CAR vs. OTT ($2,500): Kotkaniemi finally seems to be flashing the skills Carolina was hoping to see when they handed the 2018 third-overall pick a bizarre offersheet in the offseason. He has a three-game goal streak going and has chipped in an assist in that stretch as well. At the minimum $2,500 valuation, he has upside as a cheap filler against a Senators team that's allowing a league-high 3.95 goals per game.

Taylor Hall, BOS at NSH ($5,500): Hall capitalized on his top-line role with an assist and four shots in Boston's last game, and he should continue to fill in for the suspended Brad Marchand here. Anyone skating on a line with Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak immediately becomes a legitimate scoring threat, let alone a former 93-point scorer such as Hall. He has a 5-6-11 line through 19 games this season, accrued primarily in a second-line role.

Marcus Foligno, MIN vs. NJ ($3,600): Foligno has been an integral part of Minnesota's deep and relentless attack, chipping in a 9-6-15 line through 22 games. He comes into this one riding a two-game goal streak and three-game point streak, during which Foligno has showcased his two-way abilities with nine shots and six blocks. Foligno should provide solid bang for the buck against a Devils team that's 2-5-1 in its last eight games.


Hurricanes vs. Senators 

Sebastian Aho (C - $7,500), Teuvo Teravainen (W - $5,300), Martin Necas (W - $3,800)

Even with a COVID-19 outbreak plaguing their blue line, the Hurricanes should dominate a tired and reeling Senators team. Ottawa's playing its second game in as many nights, and Wednesday's 6-2 loss to Vancouver pushed the Senators' losing streak to six games – a span in which they've been outscored 31-12. Aho's 10-10-20 line gives him sole possession of the team goals lead through 21 games, and he's tied for the points lead with Andrei Svechnikov ($6,700). Teravainen has a solid 3-11-14 line, while Necas is at 4-8-12 in 19 games. Both wingers should pick up the pace at some point, as Teravainen averaged more than 0.9 points per game over the previous three seasons, while Necas experienced a sophomore breakout with a 14-27-41 line in 53 games last season.

Avalanche at Canadiens

Nazem Kadri (C - $7,200), Andre Burakovsky (W - $4,400), Valeri Nichushkin (W - $3,600)

With all the elite scoring talent in action, it's important to round out your lineup with bargains, and this line gets you some of column A and a little of column B. Kadri can hang with anyone in the league from a production standpoint given his recent form. His 6-12-18 line in the past eight games includes seven multi-point performances, and the hot streak has pushed Kadri into fourth place league-wide with 29 points. Burakovsky gets lost in the shuffle given all of Colorado's firepower, but his 6-8-14 line through 18 appearances translates to better than a 60-point pace. Nichushkin has been limited to 10 appearances by injuries, but the hulking winger has a 5-4-9 line in those contests. Don't expect much resistance from a Canadiens team that's allowing 3.54 goals per game – second-most in the league.

Capitals vs. Blackhawks

Evgeny Kuznetsov (C - $7,400), Alex Ovechkin (W -$9,700), Alexei Protas (W - $3,500)

The Kuznetsov to Ovechkin connection has been second only to Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl of the Oilers in effectiveness this season. Ovechkin trails only Draisaitl in goals and is behind both Edmonton studs in points with a 19-18-37 line through 23 games, and only Kyle Connor (100) has more shots than Ovechkin's 98. Kuznetsov has frequently been the setup man for Ovechkin's finishes, ranking fifth in points with a 7-20-27 line. Protas provides a natural way to absorb Ovechkin's and Kuznetsov's hefty salaries while maximizing your exposure to their upside, and the 20-year-old behemoth (6-foot-6, 225 pounds) has chipped in a 1-2-3 line and seven shots in his last three games.


Aaron Ekblad, FLA vs. BUF ($7,300): Whether you're stacking Panthers or just want to utilize Ekblad against the lowly Sabres, paying up for the pricey blueliner should pay dividends. He has a 2-8-10 line in his last eight games and 6-14-20 production in 22 contests overall, and Ekblad supports that scoring with excellent secondary production, putting at least three pucks on net in six of his last seven games while adding multiple blocked shots in three of four.

Miro Heiskanen, DAL vs. CLS ($5,900): Heiskanen gives you a bit of everything, as his supporting stats provide a high floor to go with his substantial offensive ceiling. He has a 3-13-16 line through 20 games, and he has added nine shots and nine blocks in the past three. If John Klingberg (illness) can't go for this one, Heiskanen should also see a boost in power-play time against a Blue Jackets team that's been outscored 12-3 in the first two games of its current road trip.

Dmitry Orlov, WAS vs. CHI ($3,900): Ride Orlov's hot streak while it lasts. He's no John Carlson ($6,400), but Orlov has a Carlsson-like 2-5-7 line in his last five games. The Russian blueliner has quietly amassed a 4-10-14 line through 23 games overall, which is excellent production for a sub-$4,000 defenseman. He should keep rolling against a Blackhawks team that's giving up 3.19 goals per game.

Sean Durzi, LA vs. CGY ($3,500): All Durzi has done since being called up from the AHL is produce. He has opened his NHL career with a three-game point streak, adding seven shots and four blocks to a 1-3-4 line. Until someone proves they can keep Durzi off the scoresheet, he's worth a flier at just $3,500.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Sasha Yodashkin plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: Youngsash, DraftKings: Yashdogg,Yahoo: Sasha, Fanball: Yashdogg.
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Sasha Yodashkin
Sasha has been contributing NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and Tennis content to RotoWire since 2015, with an emphasis on DFS. He is a huge New York sports fan who has been playing fantasy sports since middle school.
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