Thursday fantasy hockey tips: NHL picks, matchups, more

Carter Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers will look for a strong start to the season against the New Jersey Devils. Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday's 10-game slate features five teams competing in the second of a back-to-back set. It means we could see the other half of some of the league's tandems on just Day 3 of the (North American) campaign.

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All times Eastern.

Favorable scoring match-ups

Ottawa Senators at Buffalo Sabres

7 p.m., KeyBank Center, Watch live on ESPN+

Until proven otherwise, the Sabres remain upstarts with potential on offense, solid and improving on defense, but downright porous in the crease. This is a fantastic first test for new Senators Alex DeBrincat and Claude Giroux to find their footing.

New Jersey Devils at Philadelphia Flyers

7 p.m., Wells Fargo Center, Watch live on ESPN+ and Hulu

By most accounts, Carter Hart will indeed start the Flyers season in the crease, but it comes after not getting in a single save of preseason action. Coach John Tortorella will likely coax out a better version of Hart this season, but here's betting there's a bit of rust from his missed preseason. For their part, the Devils also have some work to do to prove they aren't the team that allowed more than 300 goals last season (one of only four teams to crest that mark). Devils center Nico Hischier did practice and looks like he may play.

Chicago Blackhawks at Vegas Golden Knights

10 p.m., T-Mobile Arena, Watch live on ESPN+

The Hawks will either roll with Petr Mrazek for the second night in a row or give a start to backup Alex Stalock -- either way, the Golden Knights should thrive here. Jack Eichel and Mark Stone, even though they aren't on a line together, will team up on the advantage.

Mid-tier fantasy forwards

Artturi Lehkonen, LW/RW, Colorado Avalanche (22.4% rostered in ESPN leagues): Until we get a timetable on Gabriel Landeskog returning -- and possibly even beyond then, depending on what the Avs do with their lineup -- Lehkonen is in prime position to massively ramp-up his offensive showing. Settled in with Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, Lehkonen is even getting time on the top power-play unit with the team's captain sidelined (and scored two PP goals on Wednesday).

Alexis Lafreniere, LW/RW, New York Rangers (34.0%): With Vitali Kravtsov not making the road trip after getting hurt in the first period on Tuesday, Lafreniere gets to spend the next two games with Artemi Panarin and Vincent Trocheck.

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Deep league/Daily Fantasy value forwards

Dawson Mercer, C/RW, New Jersey Devils (3.9%): Coach Lindy Ruff plays lineup decisions close to the vest, but most recent practice had Mercer with Jack Hughes and Yegor Sharangovich, but that was with a healthy Nico Hischier. Either way, Mercer gets first dibs on a top-six role here and it appears rookie Alexander Holtz will have to push his way up the lineup after cracking the roster -- not the other way around.

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Mid-tier fantasy defensemen

Ryan McDonagh, D, Nashville Predators (34.5%): With seven blocked shots and two assists in the two games the Preds played in Europe to start the season, it's safe to say McDonagh is settling into his new team. He played at least 21 minutes in both games and has an opportunity here to return to fantasy relevance after losing some of his luster in his time with Tampa Bay.

Deep league/Daily Fantasy value defensemen

Calen Addison, D, Minnesota Wild (4.3%): This may not be the best matchup, but if Addison opens the season with the same role he filled all preseason, he won't be on your team for just this matchup. The rookie defenseman was the Wild quarterback on the advantage and we'll get to see Thursday if that was a preseason evaluation strategy or a long-term plan.

Justin Schultz, D, Seattle Kraken (2.8%): The Kraken power play popped off on Wednesday and Schultz was the dominant deployment on the blue line. His experience won the primary role over Vince Dunn to start the campaign. If the Kings take some penalties, this Kraken team can capitalize.

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Ilya Samsonov, G, Toronto Maple Leafs (50.7%): Admittedly, this could go one of two ways. If you like the revenge narrative, Samsonov gets to face his former team on his new home ice with the Leafs hoping to shake off an opening night loss to the Montreal Canadiens. If it helps convince you, the win moves a little more in reach with the Caps likely to also start their No. 2 (Charlie Lindgren) on their second of two games in two nights.

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Of the above, Samsonov is a confirmed start. Thompson and Forsberg are the No. 1s for their club. Francouz is likely to get the second of a back-to-back set. There's no indication who will start for the Devils. as of 11am.

Bench 'em

Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators: With Jake Oettinger between the pipes for the Stars and Juuse Saros in the crease for the Preds, might be best to shelve all but the must-starts from these two offenses and look to the under. Beyond the matchup, consider benching Tanner Jeannot for the short-term future. His second-line role that fueled his fantasy points last season has been given to Kiefer Sherwood for the time being. Jeannot's points and hits combination will be hard to get going from the third line.