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It's a unique three-game slate in the NHL on Friday. The Blackhawks, Canucks and Ducks are all playing their second games of the season, and all three teams are underdogs. Additionally, it's also a player pool short on star power. Here's a look at a number of recommendations and fades at each position ahead of Friday's action.
All statistics from Natural Stat Trick and Hockey Reference.
Carter Hart, PHI vs. VAN ($27): Rewind to the 2019-20 campaign, and Hart posted a 20-3-2 record, .943 save percentage and 1.63 GAA on home ice. It's a large enough sample to solidify the youngster as capable of returning high-end production. Keep Hart in mind in the shallow goalie pool.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Marc-Andre Fleury, CHI vs. NJ ($37): The Blackhawks allowed 15 high-danger scoring chances and 70 shot attempts to the Avalanche on Wednesday, so there's potential for Fleury to face a number of dangerous opportunities again Friday. The reigning Vezina winner could easily be the best netminder in this goalie pool, but there's no salary discount. All said, this is more of a warning than an outright recommendation to fade Fleury.
Elias Pettersson, VAN at PHI ($19): After a disappointing 2020-21 campaign, Pettersson registered six shots and eight attempts -- including two individual high-danger scoring chances -- through a hefty 23:13 of ice time in Wednesday's season opener. A road game in Philadelphia might not check out as a plus-matchup, but there's still upside with Pettersson at this salary.
CENTER TO AVOID
Jonathan Toews, CHI at NJ ($21): With just two shot attempts in the season opener after missing all of the 2020-21 campaign, Toews salary seems a little steep. It's worth noting he's locked into an offensive role and started 77.8 percent of his five-on-five shifts in the offensive zone while logging 4:03 of power-play time Wednesday against Colorado.
J.T. Miller, VAN at PHI ($18): With an assist Wednesday, Miller is up to 119 points -- 42 goals -- through 123 games as a Canuck. Those are high-end offensive numbers, and his current salary doesn't align. Additionally, he pairs perfectly with linemate Elias Pettersson ($19) in a Vancouver mini stack.
Rickard Rakell, ANH vs. MIN ($15): The Swedish winger scored in the season opener and generated two individual high-danger scoring chances. Rakell's a two-time, 30-goal scorer who will likely fly under the radar after struggling to the tune of an 8.0 shooting percentage over the past three seasons. Just note his fantasy floor is low.
WINGS TO AVOID
Claude Giroux, PHI vs. VAN ($20): The 33-year-old veteran's 13.3 shooting percentage last season was his second highest total through the past 10 years, and he played the fewest minutes per game since the 2008-09 campaign. Giroux is still positioned to succeed, but he's also definitely past his prime.
James van Riemsdyk, PHI vs. VAN ($17): Another past-his-prime Flyer, van Riemsdyk is a streaky scorer who scored 10 of his 17 goals with the man advantage last season. He's also projected to skate down the lineup at five-on-five and attempted just seven shots through four preseason games.
Seth Jones, CHI at NJD ($19): After trending on Twitter for his poor play in the season opener, Jones is a bounce-back candidate against the Devils. His fantasy production was solid, too. Jones racked up four shots and four blocks through 28:19 of ice time, including 5:07 quarterbacking the No. 1 power-play unit.
Quinn Hughes, VAN at PHI ($18): With 27:02 of ice time (5:01 on the power play) in the season opener and ranking fourth in points per 60 minutes among regular defensemen over the past three seasons, Hughes has contest-winning upside at this salary. Just note his minus-24 campaign last year highlights his downside in this scoring format.
DEFENSE TO AVOID
Dougie Hamilton, NJD vs. CHI ($27): Over the past two years, Hamilton ranked third in points and first in shot attempts per 60 minutes among regular defenseman. So, while there's obvious upside, taking a wait-and-see approach now that he's joined the Devils isn't out of the question. New Jersey scored the eighth fewest goals per game in the league last year, and Hamilton carries a contest-high salary, after all.
Ryan Graves, NJD vs. CHI ($16): Another first-year Devil to be wary of, Graves' team surroundings took a significant hit this offseason after spending the first three seasons of his career with the Avalanche. Graves moves the needle in the secondary categories, but with just 46 points -- 14 goals -- through 149 career games, the offensive upside is capped.