Thursday's seven-game NHL slate begins at 7:30 PM Eastern time. Nashville's top contributors should thrive against the shoddy Stars penalty kill, but that's far from the only factor at play in the selection of this slate's top value plays.
Antti Raanta, ARI vs. DET ($27): Raanta's posted a 1.50 GAA while winning both of his career starts against the Red Wings and should be able to add to that successful history here. Detroit has lit the lamp only thrice in the first two legs of its four-game road trip and scored the fifth-fewest goals per game last year at 2.41, so this favorable matchup coupled with Raanta's affordability are enough to earn him serious consideration here despite Arizona's defensive shortcomings in front of him.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Pekka Rinne, NSH vs. DAL ($31): Rinne's off to a slow start with eight goals allowed on 61 shots through two appearances. Turning things around won't be easy in what should be a high-scoring affair against a Stars team that's raised its goal total with each subsequent game this season and is teeming with top-end offensive talent, especially with Nashville beat up on the blue line.
Vladislav Namestnikov, TB vs. PIT ($15): Namestnikov is valued at the same price as or below four other Lightning centers despite skating on the first line and top power-play unit. He's turned that significant role into two goals in the season's first three games and should continue to be an offensive force against a Penguins team that's allowed 15 goals in its first three games.
CENTER TO AVOID
Jason Spezza, DAL at NSH ($19): Spezza's overpriced at $19, as he simply isn't playing a large enough role at age 34 to consistently live up to that lofty valuation. Among players priced at $17 or higher, only Florida's Connor Brickley has seen less ice time than Spezza's 13:49 per game while every other alternative is sitting above 16:00.
Thomas Vanek, VAN vs. WPG ($12): Vanek is the lucky Canucks winger occupying the third spot on a line with the Sedin twins, which makes the veteran sniper a dangerous weapon despite limited ice time. He potted his first goal with Vancouver against Ottawa on Tuesday and could easily add another in this matchup with a Jets team that's surrendered 15 goals through three games. Winnipeg was one of four teams to allow over three goals per game last season, so this slow start defensively is no aberration.
Scott Hartnell, NSH vs. DAL ($13): Hartnell has quickly carved out a role for himself as an effective net-front presence on the power play, as two of his three goals through three games have come with the extra man. That success should continue against a Stars team that was easily the worst penalty-killing team in the league last year at 73.9 percent. As the only member of Nashville's first power-play unit priced below $20, Hartnell's perfect for owners looking to exploit Dallas' weakness without paying top dollar.
WINGS TO AVOID
Jonathan Huberdeau, FLA vs. STL ($20): Huberdeau has earned his spot as Florida's most expensive winger, but he's not a good investment against Blues goalie Jake Allen. Allen has thrived under coach Mike Yeo's defensive system, posting a 3-0-0 record and .930 save percentage so far.
Jason Pominville, BUF at SJ ($18): It's time to pump the brakes on the Pominville renaissance narrative, as he has just one assist and a minus-1 rating in two games since potting two goals in his first game back with Buffalo. The 34-year-old winger has also seen his ice time drop with each subsequent contest and played just 14:06last game, likely because the coaching staff has realized he doesn't have much left in the tank after scoring just 24 goals combined over the past two seasons. You can do better at $18.
Mike Green, DET at ARI ($18): Green seems to be in the early stages of a bounce-back campaign, as he already has six helpers in three games after dishing out only 22 assists in 72 games last season. Arizona's young forwards still struggle to match up in their own zone, so the offensively-gifted blueliner should get some quality scoring chances in this one. Green's factored into all but one of Detroit's goals this season, so strong performances from both Green and Raanta aren't mutually exclusive.
P.K. Subban, NSH vs. DAL ($20): Forced to bear a larger burden with Ryan Ellis (knee) sidelined long term and Roman Josi (undisclosed) out of the lineup, Subban excelled Tuesday with three assists in a 6-5 win over the Flyers. Two of those helpers came with the extra man, and Dallas' aforementioned struggles on the penalty kill have Subban in position to find power-play success once again. Subban averaged 26:32 of ice time per game in the two Josi did play, so he'll see no shortage of opportunities in this favorable matchup regardless of who suits up alongside him.
DEFENSEMEN TO AVOID
Braydon Coburn, TB vs. PIT ($15): Even at $15, Coburn's overpriced given his low ceiling and low floor in this matchup. The veteran blueliner carries nearly no offensive upside after recording just six goals and 23 points in 163 games since the start of the 2015-16 campaign, but his rating could sink well into the negatives against a deep Penguins lineup capable of scoring in bunches.
Jared Spurgeon, MIN at CHI ($17): Spurgeon has been a victim of the poor defensive play around him, posting a minus-2 rating through two games as his team surrendered nine goals. Those struggles are likely to continue against a Blackhawks team that's hit the ground running with 21 goals in its first four contests.