NHL DFS Picks Today: Banking On Brock Nelson (April 2)

There are eight games in the NHL tonight but with all of Colorado, Toronto, Edmonton, and Tampa Bay off the schedule, it is a wide-open slate with few expensive options. Let’s look at a couple of high-priced skaters and then dig for some value in our NHL DFS picks today column.

With three teams playing their second game in as many nights, some lineup information will come late so Stokastic members should double-check the Discord for updates before lock.

NHL DFS Picks Today: Lineup Decisions, Expert Advice & More

NHL DFS Picks Today: Center

Nazem Kadri (CGY vs. ANH)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Even with his team sliding firmly out of the playoff race, Kadri is still producing very well with 25 points in his last 25 games, averaging 3.4 shots per appearance in that span. He hit a bit of a cold spell goal-wise in March with just three tallies in 14 outings, but he did so while registering 50 shots, or 3.6 shots per game. Percentages come and go, but that Kadri has maintained a high shot rate through the final third of this season tells us how involved he remains offensively. His last 10 games have seen an average of 19:26 per night in ice time, a rise over what he had done for the majority of the season.  

The clear appeal for Kadri tonight is the matchup with Anaheim. The Ducks have averaged 4.9 minor penalties per game over the last six weeks, the second-most in the league with only one other team (Florida) being over 4.0. Kadri leads Calgary in both goals and shots per minute on the power play as he remains a focal part of their offense. Anaheim’s defense at 5-on-5 is also poor, but it’s the penalty killing that is a glaring weakness, and it’s where Kadri can take advantage.

Kadri leads all Draftkings centers by fantasy point projection and ranks second on FanDuel. He is nowhere near the top-priced center on either site, so there is very good relative and point-per-dollar value. His ownership is also projected over 20% on both sites, so DFS owners will have to decide if that’s too much to endure for tournament contests.

Brock Nelson (NYI vs. CHI)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

The New York Islanders are playing their second game in as many nights, but the silver lining is hosting Chicago for this second game of the back-to-back: over the last six weeks, Chicago is 29th in the league by rate of expected goals against at 5-on-5 and 30th by actual goals against. Making matters worse for Chicago is that their penalty kill – which was top-10 in the league for fewest shots against per minute in the first half of the season – sits 19th by shots against per minute over the last six weeks, and 16th by goals against. They don’t take many penalties, and that is saving things from looking even worse, but their shot-limiting prowess has fallen off as the season’s worn on.

Nelson was recently reunited with line mates Pierre Engvall and Kyle Palmieri, and they have been dominant under new coach Patrick Roy with 61.8% of the expected goal share in their time together at 5-on-5. They are shooting just 5.4% as a trio in those minutes, and that’s keeping their goal totals low, but it’s still not a large sample and percentages can swing quickly. That they’re controlling the opposition so well is important in a matchup against a much weaker opponent.

Of all centers priced under $7,000 on DK and $8,000 on FD, Nelson ranks fourth and third, respectively, by fantasy point projection. He is also projected for less ownership than Kadri, especially on FanDuel where he comes in at 13.8% against Kadri’s 24.9%. Nelson can be used by himself or part of an Islanders stack for tournaments.  


NHL DFS Picks Today: Winger

Kirill Kaprizov (MIN vs. OTT)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Kaprizov’s center Joel Eriksson Ek returned on Thursday and that is a big boost for our winger: Minnesota’s top line has averaged 37 shots, 3.5 expected goals, and 5.2 actual goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 in over 310 minutes together since hiring coach John Hynes. A big part of our subject’s DFS profile is the heavy ice time he’s been receiving as he’s surpassed 20 minutes in 10 straight games, averaging 22:37 in that span. It helped him to 15 points and 4.0 shots per contest in that time. In 49 games with Hynes behind the bench, Kaprizov has 32 goals and 35 assists while averaging 3.6 shots per contest.

Ottawa is in town and while they have improved defensively of late, they are still 19th in the league by expected goals against and actual goals against per minute at 5-on-5 over the last six weeks. What’s more, Ottawa has given up 16 power play goals against in 21 games through those six weeks while Minnesota is drawing the fifth-most minor penalties per game (and third-most of the teams on this slate). It is a positive matchup across the board for the superstar winger.

Kaprizov is third among DK wingers by fantasy point projection and second among those on FD. However, he’s projected for much lower ownership in the 8-11% range on both sites, so there won’t be nearly as many DFS players targeting him as the centers listed above. He can be used as a one-off option or part of a Minnesota stack.

Timo Meier (NJ vs. PIT)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Meier has found a home on New Jersey’s top line with Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt – in their 132 minutes together at 5-on-5, they have averaged 35.2 shots, 4.1 expected goals, and 4.6 actual goals per 60 minutes. What is key here is that Hischier and Bratt have nearly identical offensive numbers in 384 minutes with wingers other than Meier, so while this winger isn’t the reason they’ve been so successful offensively, he isn’t hurting them in the slightest. That great top line helped Meier to 13 goals and 20 points across 15 games in the month of March while averaging 3.9 shots per game. He has also been a fixture of the top power play unit, something that wasn’t the case earlier in the season.

Hosting Pittsburgh brings a road team that played last night, giving Meier and New Jersey the rest advantage. One story to watch here is that Pittsburgh goalie Tristan Jarry was a late scratch last night, so Alex Nedeljkovic got the start. Assuming Jarry is out again, the Penguins will either start Nedeljkovic two nights in a row or turn to an AHL emergency call-up goalie. Either is an advantage for Meier, which is especially important considering Pittsburgh is 29th in the league by expected goals against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 over the last six weeks.

On both DraftKings and FanDuel, Meier is carrying a point-per-$1,000 projection between 1.8 and 1.9. That is fine value, but on FanDuel he’s projected 10th among winger ownership, so there won’t be many people targeting him on that site in particular.

Vladimir Tarasenko (FLA at MON)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

This will require paying attention to the news throughout the day. Florida played last night, and forward Carter Verhaeghe left the game due to an injury and did not return. Tarasenko took Verhaeghe’s spot both on the Florida top line and top power play unit, which is a huge improvement from his third line/second power play slotting he started the game with. Despite that change coming late in the game, Tarasenko finished with 15:48 in ice time, his highest mark in eight games and second-highest mark with Florida. Had he been there all game long, he would have easily set his highest ice time total since joining the Panthers.

Going into Montreal is a great power play matchup for Florida. Over the last six weeks, the Canadiens are taking the third-most minor penalties per game in the league while the Panthers are drawing the most minor penalties per game. Montreal is also 25th by shots against on the penalty kill in that span and were it not for elite goaltending, their goals against rate would look much worse than it has. Teams can’t rely on elite goaltending every night, and Florida should get plenty of chances to break through a weak penalty kill.

Until we get confirmation on Verhaeghe, projections on Tarasenko will remain low with the assumption he’s still on the third line. However, if Verhaeghe is announced out of the game for tonight, Tarasenko is one of the top winger values on the board. Keep an eye on the news.

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NHL DFS Picks Today: Defender

MacKenzie Weegar (CGY vs. ANH)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

There are only a handful of defensemen this season that have averaged 2.0 shots, 2.0 blocks, and 0.5 points per game, and Weegar is one of them. In fact, he’s closer to 2.5 shots, 2.5 blocks, and 0.6 points per game, which puts him in very rare company. That across-the-board performance has led to 10 DK shot bonuses, 32 DK block bonuses, four games where he’s achieved both, and a pair of three-point bonuses to boot. He has skated at least 22 minutes in eight straight games, averaging 24:15 in that span, and is now running the team’s top power play unit. The exceptional power play matchup for Calgary was outlined earlier in the section on Kadri, and that applies to Weegar as well.

Of all defensemen priced over just $4,500 on DraftKings, Weegar is carrying the highest point-per-$1,000 value. On FanDuel, he has the highest value of any blue liner priced $6,000 or higher. He will carry high ownership rates because of the matchup, but he is also one of the top defense options on the board.

Alex Pietrangelo (VGK vs. VAN)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

The section on Weegar brought up the handful of defensemen to achieve good across-the-board production, and Pietrangelo is included. In fact, only Pietrangelo and Weegar have averaged 2.2 shots, 2.5 blocks, and 0.5 points per game this season. That has led to six shot bonuses and 29 block bonuses on DraftKings for this blue liner, achieving both four times. His matchup against Vancouver is much more difficult than the matchup against Anaheim, but Pietrangelo’s DraftKings price is also the cheapest it has been all season.

The tough matchup against Vancouver has Pietrangelo’s fantasy point projections lower than others in his price range. However, he is a pivot away from higher-owned options like Weegar, and his season-low price on DK makes him a target on that site in particular.

FanDuel users looking for a cheaper blue liner that has a strong value proposition, consider Owen Power (BUF, $4,200).

NHL DFS Picks Today: Goalie

Jake Allen (NJ vs. PIT)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Both Allen and New Jersey have seen their fortunes turn around since he was acquired at the Trade Deadline as he carries a .923 save percentage in seven starts with his new team. Tonight, he faces a Pittsburgh side playing their second game in as many nights, so the rest advantage is on his side. What’s more is that New Jersey has an excellent penalty kill, giving up the fourth-fewest shots and second-fewest goals per minute since the All-Star break, a span of 27 games, or one-third of the season.

Stokastic’s GoalieStacks section has Allen projected for the second-most saves tonight, and of the six goalies projected for the most saves, his expected goals against total is the lowest. His team is a home favorite and he’s very cheap on FanDuel, so there are reasons to play him on both sites despite the price discrepancy.

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NHL DFS Top Stacks Today

BUF1: JJ Peterka – Tage Thompson – Alex Tuch

This line was assembled recently and in a limited 67-minute sample, they have outshot the opposition 50-38, outscored them 8-4, and created over 3.5 expected goals. They are riding a very hot 16.3% shooting rate, but even if they were shooting just 10%, they’d still have a goals rate roughly 65% above the league average. They are just generating a lot of offense together and their matchup against Washington brings a team that has been league-average by expected goals against at 5-on-5 over the last six weeks. This trio all skate together on the power play as well, giving them perfect correlation.

This Buffalo trio has the highest top-2 stack probability for any line priced under $18,000 on DK and $20,000 on FD. That is bringing ownership projections that should get into double-digits, but it isn’t excessive, and they allow for a good secondary stack alongside them. They should be considered for all tournament formats.

VAN1: Nils Höglander – Elias Pettersson – Brock Boeser

Boeser was moved to this line on the weekend and the important note is that this now gives the line two members on the top power play unit; there had often just been Pettersson from his even-strength line skating on the premiere PP quintet. What is also important is that Pettersson and Höglander have performed well offensively regardless of their right winger as their 272 minutes at 5-on-5 have resulted in 2.8 expected goals and 4.3 actual goals per 60 minutes. They have done that with four different wingers skating between 30-80 minutes each with that duo, so there’s not much reason to think they can’t do it with Boeser, who is pacing for a 40-goal, 70-point season.

The matchup against Vegas is not an easy one but this trio is priced under $17,000 on DK and is just $20,200 on FD, so they aren’t overly expensive. They also have an ownership projection under 1% on both sites, so DFS players entering several lineups tonight will want to consider this unit as a low-owned option.

*Additional stats used for our NHL DFS picks today column from Natural Stat Trick

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Michael has been writing about fantasy hockey for over a decade, and has been playing Daily Fantasy for just as long. He has contributed to both the Chicago Tribune and the Boston Herald, has worked for Rogers Sportsnet in Canada and is now in his fifth season with Stokastic. He lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, and can be reached on Twitter @SlimCliffy.

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