By Neil Parker
RotoWire Hockey Writer
It is a three-game Monday in the National Hockey League. The marquee matchup of the evening features the Kings visiting the Blackhawks. Overexposure to these two teams is ill-advised for Monday's virtual game, though.
The star power you're targeting plays for Dallas. Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn have been as close to automatic as you'll find on ice, and they land in a cushy matchup Monday. The Maple Leafs have lost six consecutive, after all.
Also, the Flyers have dropped three consecutive games and allow 4.25 goals per game on the road. Philly visits the Canucks on Monday. It projects as a soft spot for Vancouver to shake its early season woes at home (1-2-3 record).
Antti Niemi or Kari Lehtonen, DAL at TOR ($37/$26) - Toronto has averaged 1.6 goals per game over its last five, and the Stars are 9-2 this season and boast the third-ranked offense in the league. Niemi and Lehtonen haven't needed to be too sharp behind the potent offense, and Dallas should have an easy time rolling over the hapless Leafs Monday. Lehtonen is clearly the better value, but Niemi is worth spending up for, if he receives the starting nod.
Goalie to avoid:
Corey Crawford, CHI vs. LA ($40) - The warning is no knock on Crawford (.938 save percentage and 1.76 goals-against average), but spending a contest-high $40 for a goalie facing the hottest team in the league carries risk. Spending up for Crawford likely would take a Jamie Benn-Tyler Seguin stack out of the question, too.
Bo Horvat, VAN vs. PHIO ($12) - Horvat's hot preseason run didn't parlay into a solid start, as the 20-year-old pivot has just one goal and one helper through the first 11 games. He boasts a contest-minimum salary and a top-six role, though, which is a nice combo to both return value and open wiggle room to spend up elsewhere. Horvat can't maintain a 91.5 PDO much longer, either.
Center to Avoid:
Anze Kopitar, LA at CHI ($20) - With just three goals and no helpers for the season, Kopitar is a tough buy in his current form, and especially at his cap hit. The pivot is always tasked with the opposition's top line, and long-time running mate Marian Gaborik has been removed from Kopitar's flank lately.
Valeri Nichushkin, DAL at TOR ($12) - The 20-year-old winger is too talented to stay off the score sheet as consistently as he has to start the season. His speed-size tandem passes the eye test nightly, and he receives the necessary offensive minutes to make a difference in the fake game. A speculative stab with Nichushkin on Monday projects favorably in the A+ matchup.
Radim Vrbata, VAN vs. PHI ($21) - Riding a three-game points streak and boasting three goals and two helpers over his last five showings, Vrbata is clicking alongside Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin atop the Vancouver depth chart. Vrbata is a high-volume shooter (46 shots through 11 games), and the triggerman at even strength and with the man advantage.
Wing to Avoid:
James van Riemsdyk, TOR vs. DAL ($21) - One of the few Maple Leafs capable of moving the fantasy needle, van Riemsdyk has contrarian appeal Monday. He carries a huge plus/minus risk against the Stars, though, and finishing with a minus-rating and without a point is a legitimate possibility. At best, the winger is a desperation option for those looking to go against the grain.
John Klingberg, DAL at TOR ($21) - Priced for profit, Klingberg has nine points -- two goals -- over his past seven games with 14 shots, three power-play points and a plus-3 rating. Dating to his huge rookie season, the sample size is large enough to anoint Klingberg as a top-tier offensive rearguard. Toronto will have fits slowing down the Stars Monday, too.
Chris Tanev, VAN vs. PHI ($16) - Tanev has a plus-3 rating and 12 blocked shots over his last three games, and he registered an assist in his last outing. He doesn't contribute offensively often and has just eight shots on net this season. However, he logs big minutes and provides reliable returns in the peripheral statistics. He is a sound endgame plug in, if the salary fits your lineup design.
Defenseman to Avoid:
Jake Muzzin, LA at CHI ($21) - While the defender has four points over his last three games, Muzzin's price is hefty, and simply put, his upside doesn't warrant the investment. Chicago is a daunting matchup, especially at home, where it allows just 1.17 goals per game and is 5-1.
Follow @naparker77 on Twitter.
Get a FREE RotoWire 10-day trial (no credit card required) at RotoWire.com