NHL DFS Picks Today: Cashing In On Connor McDavid (January 13)

It is a healthy 12-game slate tonight and the stars are out as Auston Matthews, Nathan MacKinnon, David Pastrnak, Nikita Kucherov, and Roman Josi are all available. Let’s look at some of the top NHL DFS picks and options then dig for a bit of value.

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

NHL DFS Picks Today, Top Stacks, Lineup Optimizer Plays

NHL DFS Picks Today: Center

Connor McDavid (EDM at MTL): DraftKings – $9,700 | FanDuel – $10,400

At the risk of being repetitive, it seems necessary to include at least one member of the Edmonton top line whenever an Oilers game coincides with this column. Since being assembled two months ago, this trio is creating 5.0 expected goals and 5.9 actual goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. They have a higher goal-scoring rate at 5-on-5 than nine different teams have on the power play this season. Since the Christmas break alone, those numbers are 4.4 expected goals and 5.0 actual goals per 60 minutes. It is a bit of a pullback, but still elite, and it is why McDavid is on this list; he has 12 points and 28 shots in those seven games since their break.

Montreal is taking fewer penalties as the season wears on, but they are struggling on the penalty kill by ranking 23rd by shots against/60 when down a man over the last six weeks, and 27th by goals against/60. Edmonton’s five-man top PP unit, meanwhile, has scored 16 goals in 23 games together under their new coach. This is a good special team matchup for McDavid.

McDavid doesn’t carry as strong a fantasy point projection as Nathan MacKinnon, one of the top three centers on the slate, but his points-per-$1,000 of 1.9 on DK and 2.2 on FD are both solid. He can be used as a one-off option in any format, or as part of an Edmonton stack.

Mikael Backlund (CGY at VGK): DraftKings – $4,800 | FanDuel – $5,500

One thing Backlund does a lot of is shoot the puck. He doesn’t finish those shots well – 7.5% conversion over his last two seasons – but he does have 53 shots in 16 games going back six weeks, and that is very good shot volume. He is also averaging over 19 minutes a game in that span and just three of those appearances have resulted in fewer than 18 minutes. Since Andrew Mangiapane was added to his line, that trio is creating 3.5 expected goals and 3.0 actual goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. Their expected goal share is over 59%, too, so they’ve been very good offensively and dominant overall.

Vegas has slid defensively of late as their last four weeks have seen a 5-on-5 expected goals against rate that ranks 26th in the league, with their actual goals against rate ranking 20th. That stretch has also seen the team’s penalty killing rank 29th by shots against/60 and land dead last by goals against/60. Backlund gets secondary power play minutes, and that’s important for this matchup.

Of all centers priced under $5,000 on DK and $6,000 on FD, Backlund is second by fantasy point projections. It gives him good value on both sites and the road matchup in Vegas should keep his ownership low (projections are around 2% on both sites). He is also fine to use as a one-off option in tournament formats, or as part of a stack.

NHL DFS Picks Today: Winger

Kevin Fiala (LA at DET): DraftKings – $5,700 | FanDuel – $6,900

The one area Fiala struggled for DFS value earlier in the season was his shot volume; his 2.6 shots per game through the first third of the season would have been his lowest mark since the 2018-19 campaign. That has turned around of late, and been more Fiala-like, as his last four weeks have produced 3.0 shots per game, and he has eight points in that span, too. His second line with Phillip Danault and Trevor Moore has recently been reunited and that is a trio that has created 3.5 expected goals and 3.9 actual goals/60 at 5-on-5 this season in a sample exceeding 250 minutes.

Going into Detroit is a good matchup for our winger. They are 29th by expected goals against and last by actual goals against/60 at 5-on-5 since signing Patrick Kane, a span of 17 games. What has kept the Red Wings in some of those games is that their goaltenders have posted a .932 save percentage on the penalty kill. That is unsustainably high – by a lot – and their shots allowed on the PK is average. It is a great 5-on-5 matchup, and good PP matchup, for Fiala.

Fiala leads all wingers priced under $7,500 on FanDuel by fantasy point projections, giving him excellent value. He is even second among all wingers priced under $6,000 on DraftKings, which also gives him excellent value. With single-digit ownership, he can be used as a one-off option in any format or part of a Kings stack in tournaments.

Seth Jarvis (CAR vs. PIT): DraftKings – $4,900 | FanDuel – $5,800

Recent hot streaks from Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov have overshadowed just how productive, and important, Jarvis has been. In the 10 games since Svechnikov returned from his most recent injury, Jarvis is second among all Carolina forwards in ice time at 18:09 per night, behind only Aho, and he has averaged 3.0 shots per game in that span. Pittsburgh is in town, and it is not an easy matchup, but this isn’t one of the top defensive teams, either: Pittsburgh ranks 10th by expected goals against/60 at 5-on-5 over the last month.

Jarvis has had Jordan Martinook on his opposite wing of late and that duo has been dominant this season, outshooting the opposition 59-34 in their 5-on-5 time together, scoring 2.9 goals/60 and controlling 70% of the expected goal share. Jarvis is also part of a top power play unit for Carolina that is creating over 80 shots/60 and that is a tremendous offensive number.

This winger ranks second by fantasy point projections on DK and FD between those priced under $5,000 on the former and $6,000 on the latter. It gives him good value across the board and he should have ownership levels similar to Fiala.

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Logan O’Connor (COL at TOR): DraftKings – $3,000 | FanDuel – $4,000

In a fortuitous ascension, O’Connor spent his last three games on the second line for Colorado. He skated at least 16 minutes in each of those games, averaged nearly 18 minutes a night, and has points in all three outings. This winger isn’t a player who posts high shot volume levels, regardless of ice time, but he’s not being priced as if he needs it, either. O’Connor also drives the play very well, ranking second of Colorado’s forwards in expected goals play-driving, per Evolving Hockey. More ice time for a player like that can lead to dominant, and productive, outings.

Going into Toronto isn’t an overly difficult matchup for second lines. The last six weeks alone have seen Toronto’s depth give up over 14% more expected goals against/60 than the top line. It gives O’Connor a bit of an easier matchup as he’ll avoid Toronto’s top line, providing him with the less dominant depth matchups.

O’Connor’s point-per-dollar value tonight is better on DK than FD, which indicates to us he can be used as a cheap, one-off flank to save some salary. The lack of a power play role makes his line difficult to stack in tournaments, however.

NHL DFS Picks Today: Defense

Victor Hedman (TB vs. ANH): DraftKings – $5,900 | FanDuel – $6,900

It has been 10 games for Tampa Bay since their injury issues on the blue line became a big problem. For Hedman, though, that has meant a much bigger role as he’s averaged over 27 minutes a night in ice time. He has also posted 10 points in those 10 games, so there has been more production with the additional ice time. Anaheim visits tonight and they are taking 18.5% more minor penalties per game than the next-closest team, so they are by far the most penalized in the league. With Hedman running Tampa Bay’s high-end power play, this is a position to find a lot of PP success.

Hedman leads all defensemen priced under $6,000 on DK or $7,000 on FD by fantasy point projections. That provides him with very good point-per-dollar values and makes him an option for cash games. Tournament DFS players have a decision to make as his ownership projection leads all blue liners on the slate for both sites.

Thomas Harley (DAL at CHI): DraftKings – $4,500 | FanDuel – $6,300

In the five games since, and including, the injury to teammate Miro Heiskanen, Harley has averaged 24:16 per night in ice time. He has also been moved to the team’s top power play unit, so the additional ice time comes with coveted offensive minutes. Though he’s not a big contributor to peripheral DFS statistics, he is averaging two blocks per game in those recent five contests, a small rise from the earlier portions of the season. Of course, it’s the matchup that is the draw tonight as Chicago is in the bottom-10 of the league by expected and actual goals against/60 at 5-on-5 over the last month, and has allowed 11 power play goals against in those 13 games.

Harley’s lack of peripherals leaves his raw fantasy point projection lower than others in his price range on either site. However, the matchup and his role make him an option to consider for DK contests.

FanDuel users may not want to pay his high price with poor value, so DFS players on that site may want to consider Brock Faber (MIN, $5,200) for a better value proposition.

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NHL DFS Picks Today: Goalie

Jacob Markstrom (CGY at VGK): DraftKings – $7,300 | FanDuel – $6,800

One thing Markstrom hasn’t done this season is get completely blown up. He has yet to allow more than four goals in any single game and has yet to finish with negative DraftKings points in any start. He visits Vegas tonight and the Golden Knights have had trouble creating offense since the injury to star defenseman Shea Theodore; those 22 Theodore-less games have seen them rank 15th by expected goals/60 and 20th by actual goals scored. Markstrom may not face a lot of shot volume, but he’s facing a team that isn’t a high-end offense, and he’s relatively cheap for DFS purposes.

As expected, Markstrom does not have a high projected save total – 12th among tonight’s goalies – but his projected goals against is similarly low, which is what makes him a target at a cheap price, particularly on FanDuel.

Top NHL DFS Stacks Today

STL1: Pavel Buchnevich – Robert Thomas – Jordan Kyrou

This St. Louis trio has come alive under new coach Drew Bannister: in the 12 games since his hiring, this line has created 2.8 expected goals and 4.1 actual goals/60 at 5-on-5 while controlling 56% of the expected goal share. The last five games alone have seen all three members skate over 20 minutes a night as they get heavy usage. Boston is in town, and they are without defenseman Brandon Carlo. He has been the team’s best defensive blue liner this season, and that hurts a roster whose expected goals against/60 at 5-on-5 over the last six weeks is 23rd in the league. Boston is also taking 4.3 minor penalties per game over the last two months, which is one of the highest marks of all 32 teams.

Of all lines priced under $18,000 on DK tonight, this stack has the second-highest top-2 stack probability, per Stokastic’s Top Stacks tool. Their projected ownership is nearly in line with that top-2 probability, so they are in consideration for tournaments. They are more expensive on FanDuel, but that is driving down their ownership, which only adds to their DFS appeal.

DAL2: Tyler Seguin – Matt Duchene – Mason Marchment

Dallas has gotten their secondary scoring from this line in 2023-24 as they’ve created 2.9 expected goals and 4.3 actual goals/60 at 5-on-5. The Stars played last night and the big news from that game was Duchene was moved to the top power play unit in place of Jamie Benn. That is a big improvement in his value, specifically, as that power play unit has been one of the most productive in the league over the last two seasons. Visiting Chicago, as mentioned in the section on Harley, gives them a tremendous matchup at all strengths. This Dallas trio will also avoid any shutdown matchups from Chicago, and that is part of the tremendous matchup.

This line is expensive on FanDuel, but that is keeping their projected ownership very low. On DraftKings, their projected ownership (3.3%) is higher than their top-2 stack probability (1.7%), but that top-2 probability is also highest of all DK lines priced under $15,000 outside of Edmonton. They should at least be considered as a mid-priced option in a great matchup.

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*Additional best NHL DFS picks today stats 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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