NHL DFS Picks Today: Be Wary of Resting Starters (April 13)

There are seven games in the NHL for this DFS slate, and there will be many important line changes. Both the Nashville Predators and Edmonton Oilers played last night and are likely locked into their playoff position (though an Edmonton win over Vancouver would make it much closer). That means there’s a good chance we will see some key players resting tonight, and the same can be said of Toronto, who is a virtual lock for their playoff seed. There will be changes to lineups announced throughout the day, which is why we say to always double-check our NHL DFS Discord before lock for updates. Let’s dive into my NHL DFS picks today as I dish out my expert advice.

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

NHL DFS Picks Today: Center

Dylan Larkin (DET at TOR)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

One big key to Larkin’s production this season has been the wingers skating next to him. He has recently had Alex DeBrincat on the left side, and having him as a winger has meant a significant difference in offensive production: Larkin’s points per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 is 2.35 with DeBrincat and 1.5 without him. That is backed up by the team creating nearly 20% more shots and 29% more expected goals when Larkin has the talented flank next to him.

Brincat’s availability is the difference between an 88th-percentile production rate and a 35th-percentile production rate. Larkin has also skated at least 20 minutes in five straight games while averaging 22:25 per night, so there is more ice time in his most productive formation.

Detroit is in Toronto tonight, and it’s not a bad special team matchup for the Red Wings. Over the last six weeks, the Leafs have taken 3.6 minor penalties per game, higher than the league average of 3.3. That span has seen Toronto rank 20th by shot attempts allowed per minute on the penalty kill while landing 24th by goals allowed per minute. Our center leads Detroit in both goals and shots per minute on the power play, so it’s a good chance for him to get on the scoresheet with the man advantage.  

Among all centers priced under $7,000 on DK and $9,000 on FD, Larkin ranks second and fourth by fantasy point projections, respectively. He is not priced among the top-four centers on either site, so there is good relative value. Larkin is in play as a one-off center or part of a Detroit stack for tournaments.

Marco Rossi (MIN at SJ)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Minnesota played last night, so the rest advantage is with San Jose. With that said, this is still the San Jose Sharks, a roster that is 30th by both expected goals and actual goals against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 over the last six weeks. Making matters worse is that the team is giving up the most shots against per minute while short-handed, and the only reason they’re in the middle of the league by goals against per minute has been tremendous goaltending.

The Sharks can’t rely on their goaltending every night, and we need to look no further than the Sharks giving up at least four goals in 12 of 21 games across those six weeks for proof of that. Those are big reasons why Rossi is today’s ‘This Guy Plays Against The San Jose Sharks’.

Another big reason is Rossi’s improved role. Minnesota winger Mats Zuccarello missed last night’s game due to a personal reason. In his place, Rossi took a spot on the top power-play unit, and, assuming Zuccarello isn’t rushing back from whatever that personal issue is, Rossi should be there again tonight. He isn’t playing with the team’s top stars at 5-on-5, but he is on the power play, and that is great news when facing a penalty kill as porous as the one San Jose offers.

Fantasy point projections have Rossi a shade under 2 fantasy points per $1,000 tonight on DK (1.97) and a shade over 2 on FD (2.04). The value is fine on both sites, he has a great matchup, and his improved role makes him a cheap one-off option in tournament formats.


NHL DFS Picks Today: Winger

Brady Tkachuk (OTT vs. MON)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

With a goal on Thursday night, Tkachuk has now tied his career high for goals in a season with 35. A recent hot streak has helped pump this season’s numbers with 9 goals, 11 assists, and 96 shots over his last 20 games. He has reached the DraftKings shot bonus 12 times in that span, and 33 times overall this season. Those 33 DK shot bonuses are the fifth-most in the league and help provide a strong NHL DFS floor.

Helping that floor is the fact that the 20-game span has seen Tkachuk skate an average of 20:08 per game, over two minutes higher than the 20 games prior (18:05). More ice time for a volume shooter is great for DFS.

The matchup tonight with Montreal is a good one for our winger. Over the last six weeks, Montreal’s top line has averaged 3.6 expected goals against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5, allowing 3.4 actual goals against. The Canadiens are also taking 4.2 minor penalties per game in that stretch, which is third-most in the league and second-most of the teams on this slate. Tkachuk should get plenty of opportunities to get on the board with the power play.

Stokastic’s fantasy point projections have four wingers with a projection of at least 18 on DK and 21 on FD tonight. Of those four wingers, Tkachuk is the cheapest, which gives him good value among his cohorts. However, that great value means ownership projections in excess of 24% on both sites, so tournament players will have a decision to make about how much ownership is too much.

Viktor Arvidsson (LA vs. ANH)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

In the Tkachuk section, I mentioned that Montreal is taking the second-most minor penalties per game of any team on this slate. The team taking the most is Anaheim at 4.7, and they have been the most penalized franchise on the season. What makes matters worse is that the Ducks are 26th by shots against per minute while short-handed and dead last by goals against per minute.

All this has led to Anaheim allowing a preposterous 31 power-play goals against over their last 21 games, by far the most in the league in that span (no other team has allowed more than 20). Arvidsson has yet to score on the power play in his 15 games this season, but he is on the top unit, which matters a lot in this matchup.

Beyond the power play, this is a good matchup at 5-on-5 for our winger. Anaheim played last night, so Los Angeles has the rest advantage. The Ducks are also 21st and 22nd in the league by expected goals against and actual goals against rate at 5-on-5, respectively, over the last six weeks. Arvidsson has skated just 75 minutes at 5-on-5 with winger Trevor Moore this season, but Los Angeles has outshot the opposition 47-37 in that time while scoring eight goals. It gives this flank a great matchup at all offensive strengths.

Arvidsson leads all wingers priced under $6,000 on DK and $7,000 on FD by fantasy point projections tonight. He is a great value option, but the ownership projections are much lower than those of Tkachuk’s, ranging between 10-12% on the two sites. That makes him appealing for tournaments, whether by himself or in a stack.

Dmitri Voronkov (CLS at NSH)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Nashville played last night, so the rest advantage is on Columbus’s side. This is also a situation where the Predators have clinched a playoff spot and are likely to stay in the top wild-card seed. The team sat players for a rest last night and with them on a back-to-back, expect some of their top players to rest tonight as well. We won’t know for sure what the lineup will be until warmups, but it seems a safe assumption that some key Nashville skaters will have the night off.

As a result of the Predators’ situation, what would normally be a tough road matchup for the Blue Jackets may not be as daunting, and it brings Voronkov into play for us. He has meshed very well with winger Johnny Gaudreau at 5-on-5 this season as the team is creating 34.8 shots, 3.1 expected goals, and 3.8 actual goals per 60 minutes in nearly 110 minutes together. Voronkov leads Columbus by shots per minute over the last six weeks, should have a top-line role tonight, and is still on the team’s top PP unit. That is good usage at his price, and his matchup could be easier than anticipated depending on what his opponent decides to do with their roster.

Voronkov’s points-per-$1,000 value on DK tonight is over 2.2 and approaches 2.4 on FD. There is very good value on a cheap option on both sites, which makes him and his line -mates targets, especially if Nashville rests some tarters.

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NHL DFS Picks Today: Defender

Charlie McAvoy (BOS at PIT)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

McAvoy is in a road matchup against a desperate team, but it’s not a bad spot for Boston to produce offensively: Pittsburgh is 27th by expected goals against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 over the last six weeks and 31st by actual goals against. The Penguins are also 10th in the league by shots for per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 in that span, which gives McAvoy plenty of opportunity to block shots, an area where he’s averaged 2.1 per game this season.

Those factors have led to 28 DK block bonuses for McAvoy, which helps his DFS floor. We need more than blocked shots for McAvoy to bring good value, but he skates 45% of his 5-on-5 time with star forward David Pastrňák and is holding down the team’s top power-play unit.

Ownership may change depending on who is or is not playing tonight in other games, but right now McAvoy’s ownership projection is under 10% on DK and under 6% on FD. He makes a nice pivot option in case key blue-liners rest elsewhere.

Tyson Barrie (NSH vs. CLS)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

As mentioned in the section on Voronkov, Nashville could very well be resting many of its top skaters tonight. Included in that is star defenseman Roman Josi, who was in the lineup last night. Assuming Josi gets the night off, it will likely be Barrie who takes his spot on the team’s top PP unit as he’s often skated alongside Josi as a second defenseman on that unit. Nashville may also rest some of their forwards, which would make that power play less potent overall, but top PP minutes are better than none, regardless of the roster.

Helping Barrie’s upside on the man advantage is facing a Columbus team that is 29th by shots against per minute on the penalty kill over the last six weeks.

There are no projections for Barrie tonight because we don’t know who is or is not in the lineup for Nashville. Assuming Barrie plays, he will be an important puck-moving defenseman for the team and could have very low ownership as that news will be announced late in the day. His price is particularly appealing on FanDuel, too.

NHL DFS Picks Today: Goalie

Devin Cooley (SJ vs. MIN)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

In the section on Rossi, I mentioned that San Jose has allowed at least four goals in 12 of their last 21 games. That also means that nine of those games resulted in three goals or fewer, and for a team giving up 33.5 shots per 60 minutes in that span, there have been some very good DFS goaltending performances from the Sharks. That six-week stretch has seen Minnesota draw just 3.2 minor penalties per game, a below-average rate and that means Cooley may not face a lot of power play shots tonight despite a poor penalty-killing roster in front of him.

More 5-on-5 shots gives Cooley a chance to put up another very good DFS performance. As always, check to see which goalie is actually starting, but Cooley saved 49 of 50 shots on Thursday night, so the team may reward him with another start. Even if it is MacKenzie Blackwood rather than Cooley, either goalie is fine in this matchup.

Cooley is a cheap pivot away from goalie Jesper Wallstedt (MIN, $6,500), who is a minimum price on DK tonight and carries a strong projection. San Jose’s goalies have a DK fantasy point projection over 10, and that exceeds 13 on FD, so there is good value here due to the cheap price points.

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NHL DFS Top Stacks Today

LA1: Quinton Byfield – Anže Kopitar – Adrian Kempe

As mentioned in the section on Arvidsson, this is a tremendous matchup for the Los Angeles power play, and both Kopitar and Kempe skate on the team’s top PP unit. With Arvidsson on the power play, the Kings have scored eight times in fewer than 44 minutes together, so they have been very productive in a limited sample.

Though Byfield has seen his role reduced of late, averaging 14:01 per game across his last five appearances, he is still in the middle of the team by shot attempts per minute at 5-on-5 in that span. He is also much cheaper now on DK than he was just a few weeks ago with a price drop of $1,200 over the last 16 days.

Of all lines on the board tonight, this Kings trio has the second-highest top-2 stack percentage of those priced under $17,000 at 6.2%, per the Top Stacks tool. Of the lines in that group with a top-2 percentage of at least 5%, they are also carrying the lowest projected ownership total. They make a solid mid-priced line to consider in tournaments.  

VAN2: Pius Suter – JT Miller – Brock Boeser

This Vancouver trio has been the best iteration of their second line as their 176 minutes together at 5-on-5 has resulted in rates of 34.5 shots, 3.7 expected goals, and 4.8 actual goals per 60 minutes. Going into Edmonton isn’t usually a great matchup, especially under their new coach, but the Oilers find themselves in the same situation as Nashville: they played last night, have clinched a spot in the postseason, and are likely locked into their playoff seed.

Connor McDavid has missed the last two games with a genuine injury and Edmonton is almost certainly going to sit some other key players. It could make what is normally a below-average matchup into an advantageous one, and this great offensive line for the Canucks stands to reap the benefits.

This Vancouver trio has a lower top-2 stack percentage than the Los Angeles line named above, but they’re also carrying much less ownership. They are another mid-priced stack to consider tonight.

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

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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