Friday fantasy hockey tips: NHL picks, matchups, more

Denis Malgin projects as a quality deep-league fantasy forward for Friday's NHL slate. Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

While only six teams are engaged in competitive action Friday evening, ripe opportunities still abound in racking up valuable fantasy points in conventional leagues and/or daily competition. Knowing that all four clubs involved in the first two contests - Islanders vs. Columbus and Devils vs. Sabres -- are again scheduled to play the following day suggests we could, maybe, be in for some interesting goaltending matchups. There's also the element of skaters feeling a bit distracted, especially defensively, while potentially looking ahead to Saturday's battles. Point is, we could see a fair bit of scoring all around, especially from the less-usual suspects.

Conversely, Friday's lonely night cap features two teams - the only two idle on Saturday, as it happens - off until they meet one another again on Sunday. Under different circumstances, the Avalanche might appear the overwhelming favorite in hosting the less-talented Coyotes. But this Arizona squad, feeling loose and light in the best sense, is having some genuinely competitive fun these days. And, remember, they pushed Colorado to overtime less than two weeks ago.

Resources: Goalie depth chart | Injuries | Schedule | How to watch on ESPN+ | Download the ESPN Fantasy App | Daily lines

All times Eastern.

Favorable scoring matchups

New York Islanders at Columbus Blue Jackets

7 p.m., Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio

Ahead of Tuesday's tilt with the Capitals, I pointed out that the Blue Jackets were hemorrhaging goals in unparalleled fashion, regardless of who was fixed between the pipes. Hours later, they surrendered six to Washington. Allowing 5.5 goals per game since Mar. 3, Columbus - with Elvis Merzlikins projected to start for the first time since early March - could conceivably give up another healthy handful to an Islanders team that's scoring up a storm of late.

Mid-tier fantasy forwards

Jean-Gabriel Pageau, New York Islanders(30.4%): Guess who's averaging 3.5 fantasy points/game in ESPN.com standard leagues since returning from sick bay? The Islanders center is on a tear since recovering from an upper-body injury, riding a four-game point streak with two goals and four assists (plus-five).

Dawson Mercer, New Jersey Devils (43.8%): Considering how badly the Sabres' defense has been performing in recent games -- from the net out -- Friday's matchup in Buffalo presents as an ideal opportunity for the Sophomore to snap out of his mini scoring slump. Since Mercer is still seeing heavy minutes on a top line with Jack Hughes, it's only a matter of time before he once again finds the back of the net. Very soon, is my guess.

See also:

Deep league/Daily Fantasy value forwards

Denis Malgin, Colorado Avalanche (3.3%): The 26-year-old is filling in on a top Avalanche line for Evan Rodriguez, who suffered a suspected concussion against Chicago on Monday. He scored from that very position that same night, assisted by - you guessed it - Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. I like Malgin to make a little scoring noise at home against the Coyotes.

See also:

Mid-tier fantasy defensemen

Damon Severson, New Jersey Devils (49.0%)

Deep league/Daily Fantasy value defensemen

Juuso Valimaki, Arizona Coyotes (11.3%)

Adam Boqvist, Columbus Blue Jackets (2.5%)


Akira Schmid, New Jersey Devils (3.1%): While the Devils' rookie netminder has been solid for his club all season long, he also beat the Sabres at last meeting, stopping 33 of 34 shots, for the 3-1 victory (Nov. 25). If Lindy Ruff opts to start Schmid in Buffalo, instead saving Vitek Vanecek for Saturday's game against Ottawa, I'm all-in on hooking my fantasy cart to Buffalo's backup.