Thursday fantasy hockey tips: NHL picks, matchups, more

Jesper Bratt is second in the NHL with 12 assists. Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

A busy Thursday will feature 26 of the league's 32 teams in action. But a light Wednesday and Friday schedule means the only team busy on consecutive days here will be the Carolina Hurricanes, who will take on Tampa Bay Thursday and then come home to host the Buffalo Sabres on Friday.

The league's top five leaders for points square off against each other. With Connor McDavid (No. 1), Leon Draisaitl (No. 2) and the Edmonton Oilers hosting Jesper Bratt (tied for No. 4) and the New Jersey Devils, while David Pastrnak (No. 3) and the Boston Bruins visit Artemi Panarin (tied for No. 4) and the New York Rangers.

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All times Eastern.

Favorable scoring match-ups

New Jersey Devils at Edmonton Oilers

9 p.m., Rogers Place, Watch live on ESPN+

This one has fireworks written all over it. Nothing need be said about the Oilers side with McDavid and Draisaitl red hot thanks to their new line combinations. As for the Devils, they are leading the entire NHL in shot attempts per game. While Bratt and Jack Hughes are no-brainers for lineup use, consider Erik Haula if you have a hole to plug (unlikely on a slate like this). The third member of the Hughes-Bratt line could have a big game if the duo go off. As for the Oilers, it's probably the McDavid line's turn after a big outing from Draisaitl and Co. on Tuesday. The slate is busy enough that you might have to bench someone to get Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Zach Hyman into your lineup, but it's worth considering.

Anaheim Ducks at Vancouver Canucks

10 p.m., Rogers Arena, Watch live on ESPN+

Someone is getting their second road win or second home win of the season -- but either way it's likely to be sloppy. Both teams are coming in as one of only four NHL clubs giving up four or more goals per game. They are also the two team's who have done the worst in the NHL this season on the penalty kill. The Ducks have found two lines that are -- in small sample sizes -- winning the possession game and the five-on-five scoring battle: Max Comtois, Ryan Strome and Troy Terry as one line, with Trevor Zegras, Adam Henrique and Frank Vatrano as the other. As for the Canucks, the power play looked back on track with Quinn Hughes returning Tuesday.

Florida Panthers at San Jose Sharks

10:30 p.m., SAP Center at San Jose, Watch live on ESPN+

Hands up if you had Erik Karlsson hot on McDavid's heels for the Rocket Richard Trophy almost a month into the season. No, this season, not 2016-17. With the Panthers second in the league for penalties taken per game and 27th in penalty killing, Karlsson could stay in shouting distance after this one. On the other side, Aleksander Barkov and Matthew Tkachuk are still deploying together on a top-heavy depth chart with Carter Verhaeghe alongside them.

Mid-tier fantasy forwards

Jake DeBrusk, W, Boston Bruins (28.6%): Don't forget about DeBrusk. He'll get his this season. The Bruins only settled on him as the full-time winger for Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand partway through last season. They played 283 minutes together and scored 17 goals at five-on-five (per MoneyPuck.com). That pace is closer to 50 goals as a line over the course of a full season together (800 minutes or so).

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Deep league/Daily Fantasy value forwards

With so many teams in action, you shouldn't need to dig this deep. That said, there are always fantasy options out there.

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Paul has established himself as the team's second-line pivot, skating with Steven Stamkos; Mikheyev offers access to Elias Pettersson, which is basically all that matters for fantasy on the Canucks right now; Crouse has been putting up decent points thanks to first-line deployment; Kaliyev isn't getting big minutes at even strength, but has made the most of his power-play role; Drouin is being used as the power-play quarterback at the moment.

Mid-tier fantasy defensemen

Hampus Lindholm, D, Boston Bruins (42.5%): With Charlie McAvoy following the path of Brad Marchand in an accelerated return to action, it might not be much longer we get to enjoy the No. 1 defenseman output from Lindholm. But until McAvoy is back, make sure you enjoy it on your roster.

See also:

Deep league/Daily Fantasy value defensemen

Caleb Jones, D, Chicago Blackhawks (1.0%): With his brother on the shelf for multiple weeks, Caleb has been getting the power-play looks for the Hawks as Seth Jones is on the mend.

Erik Gustafsson, D, Washington Capitals (0.5%): With John Carlson still banged up, Gustafsson is the Caps current choice for the blue line on the advantage.

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Scott Wedgewood, G, Dallas Stars (2.3%): He's not Jake Oettinger, but the Coyotes aren't the biggest threat. This should be one of the games in which Wedgewood doesn't make us miss Oettinger.

Sam Montembeault, G, Montreal Canadiens (0.9%): Already confirmed as the starter, Montembeault had positive results in each of his past two outings -- winning against the Penguins and Sabres while allowing four total goals.

Adin Hill, G, Vegas Golden Knights (14.7%): The Knights seem to have settled into a rotation. If that is the case, this is Hill's turn in the crease and a decent-enough matchup in Ottawa to take the plunge. Especially considering his stats are just as good as those of Logan Thompson.

Bench 'em

Taylor Hall, C, Boston Bruins (79.1%): With David Krejci on the shelf, there isn't as much upside with Hall. On such a busy slate, you probably have better options.

Torey Krug, D, St. Louis Blues (47.8%) and Victor Hedman, D, Tampa Bay Lightning (99.9%): Both these power-play quarterbacks come into Thursday with questionable tags for their availability. Justin Faulk and Mikhail Sergachev are must-starts regardless, but now you don't even have to think about it.