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NHL DFS Primer: Saturday (10/30)

by Matthew MacKay | @Matt_MacKay_ | Featured Writer
Oct 30, 2021
John Tavares

After smaller slates were on tap for each night of this past week, the NHL is upping the number of games to ten on Saturday. This creates ample opportunity to find players with hidden value to pair with blue-chip prospects, especially when stacking linemates, as the production has a much greater chance to double on the same scoring play.

With most of Saturday’s slate consisting of games set at 5.5 goals total, Vegas seems to lean towards more defensive results. For example, the six contests played on Friday saw four contests finish with five goals or fewer, while Carolina accounted for six goals on their own. I’m here to help identify a mixture of blue-chip prospects with plus-matchups and second and third-line skaters who have the skillset and momentum to produce great value in Saturday lineups.

Here are some of my favorite players to target when constructing winning lineups for Saturday’s ten-game slate.

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Recommended Plays: DraftKings

DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000

John Tavares (C – TOR): $5,800
The only game on Saturday’s slate that has a 6.5 goal total set as the over/under is the matchup between Toronto and Detroit. John Tavares is the savvy veteran on the second-line who earns prime opportunity on the Maple Leafs’ top powerplay unit, which recently saw him break his two-game point skid by netting a goal against a struggling Chicago Blackhawks unit on Wednesday. Averaging 19 minutes of time on ice this season, Tavares is expected to face goaltender Thomas Greiss (G – DET), who gave up five goals to a bad Montreal Canadiens team a week ago. He is great in the crease at times, however, Toronto is desperate for wins, so expect Tavares and the rest of Toronto to pepper the net with shots that will eventually find their way to the back of the net. He’s priced fairly and worth insertion into Saturday lineups.

Pavel Zacha (LW – NJ): $5,800
A great opening week for the New Jersey Devils inspired some excitement amongst its fans, however, just a week later and the team now sits at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division with only 14 goals scored across five games. Pavel Zacha is a big reason that the offense has even achieved this rate, as he skates along the left wing on the Devils’ first-line and top powerplay unit, which led to a two-goal outing against the Calgary Flames earlier in the week. Zacha will look to extend his point streak to three games against the short-handed Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night, as he managed five shots on goal and netted two of their three goals in a 5-3 loss to Calgary previously. Roster the 24-year old Zacha as he faces Tristan Jarry (G – PIT) in the net on Saturday night, as Jarry just surrendered three goals in his last start against Tampa Bay.

Neal Pionk (D – WPG): $5,200
Winnipeg has a plus-three goal differential despite surrendering 24 goals, meaning their offense is humming and firing on all cylinders entering Saturday’s road contest against a talented San Jose Sharks squad. Jets defenseman Neal Pionk is now in his third season with the team and has five assists across his last three games, totaling eight on the season. He skates on the second defensive line but earns minutes on the top powerplay unit, which is where a lot of the assist opportunities arise. Facing Sharks’ goaltender Adin Hill (G – SJ), who has a .893 save percentage in five starts, Pionk has a strong chance to extend his point streak to four consecutive games in a plus-matchup where the total goal over/under is set at six goals, higher than most on the slate. Roster Pionk for a high-floor, as he also has six blocked shots that yield similar production to shots on goal.

Jacob Markstrom (G – CGY): $8,200
Calgary has been one of the more surprising teams in the young NHL season, with veteran goaltender Jacob Markstrom earning five starts and winning three consecutive games for the Flames thanks to two shutouts and just one goal allowed in his last three starts. You can’t find a goaltender who is playing much better than Markstrom at the moment, so spend up and insert him into lineups with confidence. They host the Philadelphia Flyers, who are riding a two-game win streak of their own with a plus-eight goal differential, so Markstrom will certainly face 40-plus shots as he did during an impressive shutout against Pittsburgh on Thursday.

Recommended Plays: FanDuel

FanDuel maximum salary is set at $55,000

Dylan Larkin (C – DET): $6,600
Detroit is another team that made quite a few transactions this offseason to improve after a down-year in 2021, which has them sitting third in the Atlantic Division with a 4-2-2 record. First-line center Dylan Larkin saw his point streak come to an end in their last game in an overtime loss to the red-hot Florida Panthers. Despite being held without a point, Larkin managed seven shots on goal and two blocked shots, which elevates his stock significantly against the Toronto Maple Leafs, who expect to have goaltender Petr Mrazek (G – TOR). Mrazek is returning from a groin injury and allowed three goals in his only start during the team’s season debut against Ottawa. Larkin and the Red Wings have scored 25 goals through eight games, so expect him to be involved heavily in the offensive zone to notch a point or two on the scorecard.

Ivan Barbashev ( LW – STL): $4,200
Not many third-line wingers can state that they have a point in every game this season but this is exactly the case for Ivan Barbashev. The 25-year old is on one of the league’s best and most deep offensive units in St. Louis, enjoying an even distribution of goals (3) and assists (3) but still searching for his first multi-point game of the season. This could definitely occur against the spiraling Chicago Blackhawks, who have surrendered 36 goals, the second-highest in the league behind only Arizona. Marc Andre-Fleury has an abysmal 5.75 GAA in four starts and is expected to start in the crease on Saturday, which is too tempting to pass up. Barbashev is arguably the cheapest Blues asset to roster and is consistently finding a point, making him a no-brainer against the Blackhawks on Saturday night.

Tyson Barrie (D – EDM): $5,600
Entering his second season with Edmonton, 30-year old defenseman Tyson Barrie ended his point-slump against the Flyers on Wednesday, scoring a goal and setting up an assist, making it his second multi-point game of the season. Barrie has been streaky at times but when he hits, he delivers multi-point bursts. Sure, he skates on the third defensive line but gets top powerplay unit minutes as well, extending his minutes on ice to nearly 20 minutes per night. Facing a Vancouver Canucks team with goaltender Thatcher Demko (G – VAN) in the crease is very enticing, as Demko has allowed four goals twice in six starts, meaning he is vulnerable even when facing under 30 shots. Barrie has three or more shots on goal in half of his games and will look to build on this number in Vancouver on Saturday night.

Spencer Knight (G – FLA): $8,600
Who doesn’t want to roster pieces from the league’s hottest team? That’s right, the Florida Panthers are 8-0 and have a plus-19 goal differential, second only to Carolina (20), and second-year goaltender Spencer Knight will benefit from the incredible offensive production in his third start of the season on Saturday. Facing the Boston Bruins, who have only scored 15 goals through six games this season, Knight has a strong probability of posting his first shutout of the season. Yes, the Bruins still have talented players like Patrice Bergeron (C – BOS) and Brad Marchand (LW – BOS) but they have once again gotten off to a slow start as they did last season. Knight may lack experience but saved 29 of 30 shots against the Tampa Bay Lightning, so his confidence will be sky-high when traveling into Boston. He’s extremely pricey but Knight will flood lineups with points, especially since the Panthers have yet to lose a game, adding extra incentive to roster him on Saturday.

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Matthew MacKay is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Matthew, check out his archive and follow him @Matt_MacKay_.

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