NHL DFS Picks Today: Cashing Connor McDavid (February 13)

There are 11 games in the NHL tonight. All teams have returned from their bye weeks and have gotten some game action under them, so things have returned to normal. There are injuries and suspensions of note, though, so let’s go through some of the top options on the board tonight and then dig for value. Before we get to our NHL DFS picks today, a little reminder:

As always, Stokastic members should double-check the Discord before lock for update information.

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NHL DFS Picks Today: Lineup Decisions and More

NHL DFS Picks: Center

Connor McDavid: EDM vs. DET

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Edmonton’s top line has slowed their prolific scoring from 1-2 months ago, but McDavid remains very productive with 15 points in his last 10 games. One problem with his fantasy value earlier in the season was a lack of shooting – he averaged a shade under 3.0 shots per game up until Christmas, and that was a huge drop from the 4.1 shots per game he averaged over the prior two seasons.

That has changed as the season has worn on with McDavid landing 71 shots in his last 17 games, or nearly 4.2 shots per game. That is much closer to what we should expect from him and is a great sign for consistent DFS value.

Though the top line has been in a drought, they are still north of 70 shot attempts and 3.1 expected goals per 60 minutes over their last 10 games, so a large portion of the scoring drop is attributable to bad-luck shooting. It is also a good matchup for them with Detroit in town as the Red Wings are 25th by expected goals against/60 and 26th by actual goals against/60 since the Christmas break. That bodes very well for McDavid to keep up his shot generation.

There are three centers at the top of the price column tonight, McDavid included, and they are all within one projected fantasy point on DK and 1.5 points on FD. However, McDavid is expected to have lower ownership on DK than Auston Matthews, at the least, and it’s what makes him a target in all formats.  

Jack Drury: CAR at DAL

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Over his first 30 games of the season, Drury skated just 10:30 per night in a true fourth-line role. Stellar play has seen that ice time rise a lot, though, as he’s averaged 13:09 per game over his last 21 outings, and 13:31 over his last five. That extra ice time has led to more production as he’s posted 11 points over those recent 21 games.

He is not a guy that thrives on shot volume, whether on a per-game or per-minute basis, and that makes him very inconsistent in DFS. He is not being priced as if reasonable shot volume should be expected, though, and it’s not as important on FanDuel as it is on DraftKings.

There are two positives for Drury tonight. First, he is staying on a line with Martin Nečas and Carolina has been productive with them on the ice at 5-on-5: 72.8 shot attempts/60, 2.8 expected goals/60, and 3.0 actual goals/60 in over 194 minutes together. The second part is that Dallas’s second and third lines have been suspect defensively over their last 20 games with several forwards on those lines posting league-average-or-worse expected goals against numbers. It puts Drury in a good matchup against the depth.

Of the centers priced under $3,000 on DK and $4,000 on FD, Dury ranks third and fourth by projected fantasy points. However, his projected ownership is much lower than similarly priced options, and that brings him into play as a cheap one-off option for tournaments.

NHL DFS Picks: Winger

Filip Forsberg: NSH vs. NJ

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

The consistency Forsberg has shown this season is remarkable considering the team he plays for. He has yet to go more than two consecutive games without a point, more than five games without a goal, and is yet to have a full month with fewer than 3.6 shots per game.

To that last point, Forsberg’s 18 games played since the Christmas break have produced 4.7 shots per game, reaching the DraftKings shot bonus in half of them. Nashville’s top line has produced 3.5 expected goals and 4.5 actual goals/60 minutes at 5-on-5 in those 18 games as they’ve been extremely productive together.

New Jersey is in town tonight and they played last night, so the rest advantage is with the home side. It is also their third game in four nights, so this is a good time for the Predators to catch this Devils side. New Jersey has also played 13 games without their top defense pair (both out due to injury) and that span has them ranked 30th by expected goals against at 5-on-5. The return of Jack Hughes will help their offense, but he is not a difference-maker defensively, and that’s good for our winger.

Despite being priced outside the top-5 wingers on both sites, Forsberg’s fantasy point projection is third on DraftKings and fourth on FanDuel. It gives him good relative value, but it also gives him a high projected ownership (top-5 among wingers on both sites). He is fine to use in any format, though, as a slate as large as this doesn’t bring a lot of ownership concerns.

Cole Caufield: MON vs. ANH

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

After a downturn that lasted a month or so, Montreal’s top line has come alive again with 31.7 shots/60 and 3.1 goals/60 at 5-on-5 over their last 10 games. Individually, Caufield has managed five goals, seven assists, and 3.4 shots per game in that span, so his production has been a big part of the outburst.

After shooting just 6.7% through his first 32 games of the season – against a three-year average of 14.1% – Caufield has shot 13% over his last 20 games, and that’s much closer to what we should expect from him. Those 20 games saw him post six power play points, too, so he’s getting the job done at all offensive strengths.

The Anaheim Ducks visiting tonight brings a good matchup for Caufield in a couple ways. First, the Ducks have averaged 4.3 minor penalties taken per game over their last 20 games, the third-most in the league. That stretch also saw the Ducks give up the most shots per minute on the penalty kill, so it’s an undisciplined team that is also poor at killing penalties. The second part is Anaheim’s expected goals against/60 at 5-on-5 in that 20-game span ranks 22nd in the league, so it’s a positive all-around spot for Caufield.

Along with Forsberg, Caufield projects as one of highest owned wingers on the board tonight on both DK and FD. It is much lower on the latter, though, so he should be heavily considered on FanDuel, at least. Like Forsberg, though, ownership concerns are lessened on a slate this large.  

Ridly Greig: OTT vs. CLS

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

One of the better stories of the Ottawa season has been the emergence of Greig. He doesn’t have eye-popping counting stats, but his 82-game pace is for 17 goals and 41 points. With just two power play points, a lot of his production has come at 5-on-5 and in a third-line role.

Greig is on a line with Shane Pinto and their returns in a small sample (under 50 minutes) have been excellent: outshot the opposition 25-16 while scoring twice. His stellar play has started to be rewarded by the coaches as he’s surpassed 15 minutes in three of his last four games and skated a season-high 19 minutes on Saturday night. We can’t expect that every outing, but it is indicative of how well he’s been playing.

Columbus is visiting Ottawa and though the Blue Jackets have improved defensively at 5-on-5, that improvement has left them 22nd in the league by expected goals against and actual goals against/60 since the Christmas break. Greig’s solid play, helped along by a surging Pinto after his return to the lineup, should help their line carry the play against the Blue Jackets.

A lack of shot volume keeps his fantasy point projection muted, but that is also keeping Greig’s projected ownership under 4% on DK and around 2% on FD.

Greig is listed as a center on FanDuel, so DFS players on that site may want to consider Nils Höglander (VAN, $3,800) as he’s been moved to the team’s second line.   

NHL DFS Picks: Defender

Cale Makar: COL at WAS

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Makar’s 82-game pace is for over 100 points, and that’s the biggest part of what makes him so valuable for DFS purposes. Beyond that, though, is the fact that he can bring a lot of peripheral production, too. The superstar defenseman is averaging 3.1 shots and 1.9 blocks per game, reaching the DK shot bonus 13 times, the block bonus 15 times, and both simultaneously on six occasions.

The blocks may not be in abundance against a weak Washington team, but the Capitals have given up the second-most expected goals, and fourth-most actual goals, at 5-on-5 over their last 20 games. This is a Washington team on its way down as Makar is putting up an exceptional offensive season.

Our defender is not the highest projected by fantasy points at his position tonight despite being the most expensive. That is also keeping his projected ownership extremely low on DraftKings where it’s coming in under 5%. Makar is a tournament option for this slate.

Pavel Mintyukov: ANH at MON

DraftKings Salary

FanDuel Salary

A big piece of the Anaheim offense returns tonight as Mintyukov is expected back in the lineup after missing 11 games due to injury. In over 40 minutes together, Anaheim’s top power play unit generated 59.3 shots/60 and 8.5 goals/60 with Mintyukov, and 41.1 shots/60 and 2.8 goals/60 without him.

The rookie defenseman has been a breakout star in a season filled with high-end rookies, and it’s why his 82-game pace is for 39 points on a low-scoring team. Facing a Montreal side that has taken the fifth-most minor penalties per game over the last eight weeks is a good spot for Mintyukov and Anaheim’s power play to get back on track.

Mintyukov is not officially confirmed to play tonight, but he was practicing with the team and on their top PP unit, and that indicates he should be in the lineup. That may be late-arriving information, though, which is why we always say to double-check the Discord before lock.

NHL DFS Picks: Goalie

Joel Hofer: STL at TOR

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

One thing that helps goalies in DFS is not having to face a lot of power play opportunities. St. Louis has been a disciplined team all season and their last eight weeks have seen them take the fourth-fewest minor penalties per game. That 21-game span has seen the Blues give up just 12 power play goals against.

It is a big reason why Hofer has not given up more than four goals in a start since his very first of the season, and that’s important when facing a Toronto team that is fourth in goals/60 on the power play over their last 20 games. The Leafs are also without defenseman Morgan Rielly due to a suspension, and that takes their best puck-moving rearguard out of the lineup, which also helps Hofer.

St. Louis goaltending is projected for the fourth-most saves tonight, but the third-most goals against. That dichotomy is what happens when shot volume can be expected against a team with top offensive stars. However, the lack of power play time and the suspension to Rielly are what bring Hofer into play tonight.

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NHL DFS Top Stacks Today

DET1: Alex DeBrincat – Dylan Larkin – Lucas Raymond

Though they were separated for a while, the duo of Larkin and DeBrincat are back together, and that duo has been tremendously productive for Detroit. In nearly 320 minutes together at 5-on-5, they’ve helped the Red Wings produce 33.9 shots/60 and 4.7 goals/60. Shooting nearly 14% is a big reason why, and that’s too high, but even 11% would have this line at 3.7 goals/60 which would still be an excellent scoring rate. The Red Wings have drawn 3.9 minor penalties per game over the last eight weeks, and that’s well above the league average. Though DeBrincat is on the second power play unit, and Edmonton’s penalty kill has been very good, they should get a number of cracks at breaking through.

There are lines in this price range that have a much higher top-2 stack probability tonight, specifically from Toronto, Dallas, and Nashville. However, the Top Stacks tool has this Detroit trio with projected ownership under 1% on both sites tonight, and that makes them a high-upside, low-owned line to consider in multi-entry tournaments.

CLS2: Kent Johnson – Dmitri Voronkov – Kirill Marchenko

On a night with very expensive lines from Tampa Bay, Boston, Colorado, and Edmonton, looking for filler stacks is paramount. This Columbus trio has been assembled of late, but just the Voronkov/Johnson duo alone has been very good in a small sample this season. In nearly 70 minutes together at 5-on-5, they have out-attempted the opposition 79-64 and outscored them 4-0.

This Columbus unit has a projected ownership on DraftKings tonight of 1.4%, which is higher than their top-2 stack probability but it’s not a stark difference. Their power play has changed its formation, so they’re not perfectly correlated anymore, but they don’t need to be at their price and in this matchup.  

*Additional stats 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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