This is one that the Bruins fans have been waiting a long time for. The Return of the Mack may not be a favorite tune for many of you, but the return of Charlie McAvoy, (DK: $5,200) should be an exciting time for anyone that’s been for a stroll through the pahk on a Satahday aftahnoon! With a game winner in his first game back on Thursday night, he’s a great bet to put up some FPTS in Buffalo tonight.

As far as the format for today goes, I’ve been thinking about this one for a few weeks and decided to give it a go. At the risk of showing my age, I used to play NHL ‘95 on the Sega Genesis pretty religiously when I was younger and was thinking about how the ratings and skill levels of certain players would match up to today’s version of the game…a solid 25+ years later. Maybe it was because we didn’t have the internet back then, but I remember thinking how cool it was that the 1995 version of the game had a complete roster page that included every player on every team in the league. 

For reference, the god of NHL94 (Jeremy Roenick) was a 91 overall and Steve Yzerman was a 93. Not bad. But…top defencemen like Paul Coffey at an 83? Jaromir Jagr an 87? Niklas Lidstrom a 60?! They were definitely not generous when dishing out some of those stat points. 

I decided to break the picks up for today’s list with NHL ‘95 comparisons – complete with the rating for the old player – and the rating from NHL ‘23 for the DFS guy we’ll take in our lineups.  

So, for our lede, this is how I put together the top D-man…Charlie McAvoy (Draft Kings: $5,200) (NHL ‘23 – 87 overall) – Ray Bourque (NHL ‘95 – 99 overall) – The Bruins have not had a defensive draft pick with as much offensive upside as they had with Ray Bourque…until that fateful day in Buffalo when they announced Charlie McAvoy’s name. I was there. I wanted them to draft Jacob Chychrun instead. And boy was I was wrong. McAvoy has been nothing short of the Bruins’ best defenceman for the last few years and this team is about to get even better with his return. Get in on him now at $5,200 before DK spikes his price tag early next week.

For the actual games, it’s a lucky number 13 for the game count with only one 1:00 PM ET start and a 4:00 PM ET. I’ll steer clear of those two games and fill our lineup with the other 11 games from the main slate at 7:00 PM ET or later.

C – Nathan Mackinnon, DK: $9,300 (NHL ‘23 rating – 94) – Sergei Federov (NHL ‘95 rating – 99) –  Just like with Federov from those stacked 90’s Red Wings teams, Mackinnon is the big chalk center today. Like most chalk picks, Mackinnon doesn’t need much of a build up. 21 points in 12 games with 22 minutes TOI is about as good as it gets. You’ll have to pay up for him, but a home game against Carolina could provide some solid FPTS tonight.

C – Ryan O’Reilly, DK: $3,500 (NHL ‘23 – 89) – Mark Messier (NHL ‘95 – 69) – A very strong leader and a guy that just flat out produces sounds like a clip from either of these guys’ bios. I’m not sure how Messier ended up with a measly 69 rating after winning a cup in New York, but O’Reilly has a similar disrespect with his sub $4,000 price tag. He is riding the 3rd line, and has had a rough start to the season, so maybe there’s some validity to it. But with PP2 time and total TOI that averages out over 18 minutes, O’Reilly should at least give you the 3 SOG he’s averaging with a chance to sneak one past the Sharks goalies today.

W – Artemi Panarin $6,800 (NHL ‘23 – 91) – Alexander Mogilny (NHL ‘95 – 86) – With 21 points in 15 games, this Russian born superstar has a similar skill set to Buffalo’s old Russian sniper. That puts the ‘Bread Man’ on our radar for this one. His 13.5 shooting percentage is pretty solid, even if a majority of his points are helpers so far this year. Juuse Saros is his target today and I’m losing faith that Nashville is going to right that ship sooner than later. Buy.

W – Jake DeBrusk DK: $7,000 (NHL ‘23 – 81) – Tony Amonte (NHL ‘95 – 71) – Unlike DeBrusk, Tony Amonte came into the league with a lot less hype. Amonte was a 4th round pick at 68 overall, (which is an early 3rd rounder today),  compared to DeBrusk’s 1st round pedigree. But the comp. is a similar one now. Not unlike those ‘95 Blackhawks, DeBrusk finds himself riding shotgun to two elite players on one of the top offenses in the NHL for both even strength and PP time. Skating with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand is never a bad thing, so look for more points against the Sabres in this 7:00 PM ET start.

W – Tomas Tatar – DK: $4,000 (NHL ‘23 – 84) – Ray Ferraro (NHL ‘95 – 62) – I don’t know why this guy is so cheap today, but let’s not over analyze it. He’s on line 1, getting PP2 time, and has 8 points in 13 games. Like Ray Ferraro in 1995, Tatar is a 31 year old skilled player that is averaging only around 14 minutes per game, but against Arizona I’d take the gamble today.

D – Timothy Liljegren – DK: $2,500 (NHL ‘23 – 81) – Scott Niedermayer (NHL ‘95 – 61) – Wow. When I was looking for a younger defenceman to compare to Liljegren, I came across this gem that was drafted in 1991. Seeing him rated at 61 is pretty laughable. I assume that Leaf fans only hope that Liljegren can turn into a fraction of the offensive defenceman that the hall of fame Niedermayer became. Liligren scored twice in Toronto’s 4-3 OT loss to Vegas on Tuesday night, so he certainly qualifies as a hot hand today.

UTIL – Nicolas Roy – DK: $2,900 (NHL ‘23 – 77) – Bill Berg (NHL ‘95 – 52) – This is a shout out to a buddy from high school that was a Leaf fan. He loved this fourth liner so much that he got a Bill Berg jersey that he wore proudly for years. We used to joke that even Berg’s grandmother probably didn’t have his sweater. Unlike Berg, Nicholas Roy is a fourth line grinder that is actually getting some PP2 time and averaging about 15 minutes TOI. He also has 10 points in 15 games with two assists on Thursday night. Not a bad gamble for a cheap extra center at home against St. Louis today.

G – Vitek Vanecek – DK: $8,500 (NHL ‘23- 83) – Mark LaForest (NHL ‘95 – 38) – This one, I have to admit, isn’t even really about matching the two up. I could stretch it a bit and say that as a less seasoned goalie who was playing as a backup for a few years, Vanecek came into this season with a low rating too. Or that it was all part of the plan to put these two together because of the digit flip in their ratings. But the truth is that this is more about Vanecek’s hot start (6-1, 2.18 GAA, .915SV%) and the fact that “Trees” is a great guy.

In 1995, LaForest was a player we knew about because he was from our area but 20 years and a career change later he became a buddy of ours. Trees was a staple in our Friday night poker games and weekend get-togethers. I can say that although he was a 38 overall in that Sega game, he’s definitely a 100 in the buddy category. Seeing him at alumni events with former Leaf teammates, I think his peers from the late 80’s-early 90’s would agree.

I’ll go out on a limb and say Vanecek should return a lot more than his 83 rating in NHL ‘23 tonight, the same way Trees’ 38 was an unbelievable mislabel and one of the last times the EA series gave any player below a 50 rating.

***EDIT: Vanecek left with an injury Thursday night. He came out for practice yesterday and faced a few shots. Lindy Ruff said that there’s ‘no concern’ with the injury, but double check before the 7:00 PM ET games begin and pivot to Linus Ullmark ($8,100) at Buffalo if you need another option or want to save $400***

That’s all folks! If it worked properly, we’re $300 under the line and things look pretty balanced. Some others that I looked at were Arber Xhekaj ($2,800), Owen Power ($3,400), and Troy Terry ($6,900). 

Here’s the three moneyline picks for the week too…

The Sea Bass : (Favorite)

Linus Ullmark returning to his old stomping grounds to face the Sabres looks like the favorite of the day. The Bruins offense is tops in the league and although the Sabres are showing a lot of improvement this year, I think the Bruins handle them tonight at (-180).

The Happy Gilmore : (Underdog)

The Pens are somehow favorites on the road tonight against the Habs after playing the Leafs last night. Pittsburgh is 3-6-1 in their last 10 and Montreal is riding a two game winning streak. Montreal at home on a Saturday night is rarely a bad bet and they’re not a huge underdog, but (+135) isn’t a bad shot to take here.

The Claude Lemieux : (Turtle/Flop)

This one isn’t exactly a giant flop call, but I can see Chicago pulling out a W against Anaheim at home tonight. The Ducks are favored at (-140) but are missing three regular defencemen in Vaakanainen, Shattenkirk, and Drysdale.

That’s it for this week! I hope everyone enjoyed it. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave them below or give me a shout @MarmosDad.