All eyes will be on the New York Islanders as the NHL returns from the all-star break, with Bo Horvat set to make his debut on the club's top line.
After playing in the NHL all-star game representing the Vancouver Canucks but in an Islanders jersey, signing an eight-year extension before playing a game with his new club, and practicing on a line with Mathew Barzal and Josh Bailey, Horvat will finally make his debut against the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday as part of a six-game slate.
This is the perfect test for Horvat and the Islanders, as the Flyers can be a tough opponent, but not too tough. The biggest change we are expecting from Horvat will be an improvement to the power play and the Flyers are also a good test there, allowing only five power-play goals in the past month they rank as a top-three kill.
Horvat is expected to bring Barzal to join Anders Lee and Brock Nelson on the power play, with Noah Dobson back on the point after missing the past four games. This advantage is completely lost in windless waters, needing Horvat to sweep them from the doldrums. They last scored a power-play goal on Jan. 10 against the Dallas Stars. It's one of only two power-play goals the Islanders have in 2023.
A power-play goal or two here against the Flyers won't single-handedly justify a non-playoff team making the biggest trade splash, but will go a long way to calming some early nerves and perhaps suggest that the Islanders did the right thing.
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Favorable scoring matchups
Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers
7 p.m., FLA Live Arena, Watch live on ESPN+
After losing two games in Alberta, the Lightning went into the all-star break with three consecutive victories fueled by a stacked depth chart. The Bolts assembled Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point as the top line for those three wins against the Wild, Bruins and Kings. We'll find out Monday if this was a short-term way to boost the team, but if they keep stacking the offense this way it will eliminate fantasy value for Alex Killorn and Anthony Cirelli, while reducing it for Brandon Hagel (as Hagel will still get to see the top three on the power play). Even though this is a plus matchup with the Panthers, I'm not dipping too deep in the Lightning pool. The Panthers help fuel high-scoring affairs by being extreme on special teams -- boasting one of the weakest penalty kills and one of the best power plays in the league. Keep Sam Reinhart and Carter Verhaeghe active.
Vancouver Canucks at New Jersey Devils
7:30 p.m., Prudential Center, Watch live on ESPN+
Horvat isn't the only one from the trade making his debut for a new club, as Anthony Beauvillier is expected at the top of the Canucks depth chart with Elias Pettersson and Andrei Kuzmenko. It's not a great matchup on paper for the Canucks and the expectation is to see more goals from the Devils side, but don't count out the Canucks from notching a few. Conor Garland has looked rejuvenated under new coach Rick Tocchet and Garland's linemate, J.T. Miller, will slide back over to center with Horvat gone -- which is the position that helped Miller to a top-10 overall fantasy season last year. Excitement over the Canucks new-look offense aside, the Devils will get theirs in this matchup, too, with Ondrej Palat a good target from the top line. If you want to go deeper, Fabian Zetterlund and Yegor Sharangovich are back on a line with Jack Hughes for the time being.
Mid-tier fantasy forwards
Ondrej Palat, W, New Jersey Devils (44.3%): While watching what the Canucks do with all the personnel changes is more interesting, Palat and the Devils are more likely to make some fantasy noise here. He has a point in five of seven games while scoring at least 1.2 fantasy points in all seven of those contests.
Filip Chytil, C/W, New York Rangers (16.6%): The line featuting Chytil, Alexis Lafreniere and Kappo Kakko has not only become the best line for the Rangers this season, but one of the best overall lines in the NHL. Among lines with at least 200 minutes together, only two other trios have a larger share of the goals scored while they are on the ice. With 73.7% of the goal share (MoneyPuck.com) for Chytil's line (14 for and five against), only the top lines for the Winnipeg Jets and Toronto Maple Leafs are doing better.
Sam Bennett, C/W, Florida Panthers (66.4%)
Conor Garland, W, Vancouver Cancuks (6.7%)
Deep league/Daily Fantasy value forwards
Josh Bailey, W, New York Islanders (0.9%): Am I only suggesting him for the Horvat hype on the top line? Of course. But Horvat and Barzal are two exceptionally talented players, so if they are going on a line together there's a good chance the third member of the unit gets some fantasy points just for being there.
Dakota Joshua, C, Vancouver Canucks (0.1%): With all the moving parts for the Canucks and a chance for a reset here, it's a bit of a surprise to see Joshua get the nod over Brock Boeser for a role in the top six. But Joshua has earned it with points in three straight. He'll play with Miller and Garland on the second line.
Anthony Beauvillier, W, Vancouver Canucks (1.8%)
Sam Steel, C/W, Minnesota Wild (1.2%)
Jimmy Vesey, W, New York Rangers (1.9%)
Barrett Hayton, C/W, Arizona Coyotes (1.6%)
Jakob Pelletier, W, Calgary Flames (0.2%)
Mid-tier fantasy defensemen
Damon Severson, D, New Jersey Devils (47.7%): Severson hasn't had a game with less than 1.1 fantasy points in 2023. Let the good times roll.
Gustav Forsling, D, Florida Panthers (56.9%)
Deep league/Daily Fantasy value defensemen
Braden Schneider, D, New York Rangers (0.9%): Even with limited minutes, Schneider is making a mark through hits and blocked shots -- almost like a discount version of teammate Jacob Trouba. In fact, the number of fantasy points Trouba generates from only blocked shots, hits and shots (BSHS) per 60 minutes ranks him seventh in the NHL; Schneider ranks 12th.
Nick Perbix, D, Tampa Bay Lightning (0.4%)
Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Minnesota Wild (65.7%): Already confirmed as the starter for the Wild, Fleury gets a plus matchup against the lowly Coyotes. With the 'Yotes ranked 28th in goal per 60 this season and 31st in five-on-five goals per 60 in the past month, it should be no problem for the visiting Wild to walk away with a victory for Fleury.
Scott Wedgewood, G, Dallas Stars (1.5%): There is no good reason not to use Jake Oettinger here, but just for the sake of argument: the Stars don't have a single back-to-back set in February and there is a run of tough opponents coming that it would be nice to have Oettinger in for against all of them (Wild, Lightning, Bruins and Wild). So maybe the Stars start Wedgewood here against the lowest-scoring team in the league.