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October 17, 2013 | 3:22pm ET

Key picks in this weekend's matchups
By Tab Bamford, TheFourthPeriod.com

As the 2013-14 NHL season gets into full swing, it's time for fantasy hockey players to start micromanaging their rosters.

This year, The Fourth Period is working with the fine folks at DraftStreet.com. They're offering a free $500 NHL contest for Saturday games only this season that's remarkably easy to join.

This free contest will be salary-cap style drafting where everyone tries to assemble the best team out of the available players. You will have a $100,000 budget to build a team of 2 LWs, 2 RWs, 2 Centers, 2 Defensive players, 1 Goalie, and a FLEX. Each NHL player has been allocated a price based on their expected fantasy performance.

You can adjust your roster up until the contest starts on Saturday, October 19th at 1:00pm ET at which time your rosters will lock and the Live Scoreboard will be available.

With that in mind, here are a few players to consider from each matchup this weekend:

Edmonton at Ottawa -- Boyd Gordon
Yes... Boyd Gordon. With all of the firepower and top draft picks on the Oilers roster, it's been Gordon leading the way offensively early in the season. He has scored as many goals in seven games (4) as he did in 48 with Phoenix last year, and he is on pace to blow past his career-high of eight. Saturday also happens to be Gordon's 30th birthday, so play the birthday boy.

Colorado at Buffalo -- Semyon Varlamov
With the issues Buffalo is having offensively, and the success Colorado is having defensively early on, this seems like a good bet for the weekend. Varlamov allowed only six goals in his first five starts of the season, winning all five and posting a ridiculous .965 save percentage. Fantasy winners ride the hot hand, and Varlamov is as hot as it gets right now.

Nashville at Montreal -- Seth Jones
Let's roll the dice a little here. Jones has already picked up his first NHL goal, and has looked good playing heavy minutes for the Preds. With the game being at the Habs, Jones will experience a big-time NHL arena on a Saturday night. If he plays big on the big stage, he'll be worth the pick-up.

Boston at Tampa Bay -- Loui Eriksson
After skating his first three games with the Bruins without a point, Eriksson scored goals in back-to-back games against Columbus and Detroit. The Bruins need him as a key member of the offense moving forward, and he's started to look more comfortable recently.

Toronto at Chicago -- Duncan Keith
Since you have to run a couple defensemen out there, why not consider one of the best in the game? Keith is off to a fantastic start, looking like the player who won the Norris in 2010. He's also picking up points on a frequent basis in spite of coach Joel Quenneville spreading out the ice time among his top four pretty evenly so far.

Minnesota at Florida -- Jason Pominville
Pominville enjoyed a few good nights at the expense of the Panthers while he was a member of the Sabres, and will now travel south with the Wild. With the emotions of playing in Buffalo as a visitor for the first time in his rear view mirror, Pominville can look forward to producing this weekend.

Rangers at New Jersey -- Brad Richards
Richards has responded to the coaching change and the loss of Rick Nash with a strong week. Through six games he has scored four goals with three assists, and played a strong game on Wednesday night. With the issues New Jersey is having at... everything... to start the year, Richards could be in line for a big night.

Carolina at Islanders -- Frans Nielsen
One of the perks of playing on a team with a Hart finalist is all of the attention that player gets on the ice. Nielson has taken advantage so far this year and has seven points (three goals, four assists) in six games, and is also plus-four. He has been effective on the power play (two assists), so keep an eye on the special teams in this one.

Columbus at Washington -- Mikhail Grabovski
The Toronto castaway has settled in nicely with the Caps, and has been a beast on special teams. He has six points (three goals, three assists) in seven games, but five of those have come on the power play; he has one even-strength goal. If Washington can get Columbus to take a few penalties, Grabovski could be looking at another big night.

Detroit at Phoenix -- Pavel Datsyuk
Phoenix plays at Anaheim on Friday night and, even though the trip home isn't a long flight, they'll still be playing the second half of a back-to-back against a rested Detroit team that is playing well. Datsyuk enjoyed success against Phoenix throughout his career, and could be in line for another big night.

Calgary at San Jose -- Joe Thornton
The excitement that came from Thornton's comments last week has overshadowed him having a fantastic season. In six games, Jumbo Joe has nine points, eight assists and is plus-nine without a single penalty minute. The high-scoring Sharks are spreading out the scoring well, and Thornton is playing a complimentary role to perfection.

Dallas at Los Angeles -- Tyler Seguin
Seguin has been playing well early in the season, and will be coming off a home game against San Jose on Thursday. With seven points -- including five assists -- in his first five games with Dallas, Seguin is looking incredibly comfortable. He also has three points (one goal, two assists) on the power play.

CLICK HERE to sign up for free and join the $500 Freeroll on DraftStreet.com.

 Tab Bamford is a Columnist for The Fourth Period Magazine. Be sure to follow him on Twitter.
 

 
 
 
 

 

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