NHL DFS Picks Today: Down Year Leon Draisaitl Is Still Elite (January 9)

There are 10 games in the NHL on this Tuesday night and the stars are out, as Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid, David Pastrnak, Nikita Kucherov and Roman Josi are all on the board. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the cheaper options for NHL DFS picks across the slate. As always, Stokastic members are encouraged to double-check the Discord before lock for updated roster information.

NHL DFS Picks Today, Top Stacks, Lineup Optimizer Plays

NHL DFS Picks Today: Center

Leon Draisaitl (EDM at CHI): DraftKings – $7,700 | FanDuel – $9,300

It is funny to say that a player on pace for 41 goals and 96 points is having a down year, but that’s what’s happening with Draisaitl. He is registering a point on just 63.6% of goals scored with him on the ice, and considering he has zero full seasons below 70% by this measure, it seems he’s just been a bit unlucky thus far. Importantly, his new second line with Warren Foegele has been exceptional offensively, creating 38.9 shots, 4.2 expected goals and 4.9 actual goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five. That is elite production and doesn’t even get to Draisaitl’s role on an elite power play.

Of course, the matchup is the big draw tonight. Chicago is missing no fewer than eight regular skaters out of its lineup, including top rookie Connor Bedard and top defenseman Seth Jones. As it is, the Blackhawks are 29th by expected goals and 31st by actual goals against at five-on-five over the last four weeks, and this roster is now a husk of an NHL team. It bodes well for Draisaitl and the other top Edmonton stars.

Draisaitl’s NHL DFS projections have him at 13.9% on DraftKings tonight but under 4% on FanDuel. It makes him a very low-owned option on the latter site, which is great for tournaments. Regardless of the site, though, it’s a great matchup that should draw the attention of NHL DFS players.

Nazem Kadri (CGY vs. OTT): DraftKings – $6,000 | FanDuel – $6,900

Another center with a tough start to this season, Kadri has come alive since Calgary called up rookie winger Connor Zary, now Kadri’s regular linemate. In the 31 games since that recall, Kadri has 12 goals and 28 points, averaging nearly 3.5 shots per game. His points per minute in that span are in the 83rd percentile of all regular forwards, or easily a top-line rate. Consistent ice time levels are a concern – he can skate 16 minutes or fewer but also crest the 19-minute mark – but that is what makes him a target for tournaments rather than cash games.

Ottawa visits Calgary and that gives the Flames a great matchup. Ottawa has been giving the opponent the eighth-most power plays per game (3.8) over the last two months, and that stretch has seen the Senators give up 23 power play goals against in 22 games. In the nine games since Ottawa fired its coach, it is bottom 3 in the league by several defensive stats at five-on-five. This is a bad road team in all defensive respects, and that makes it a fantastic spot for Kadri.

Of all centers priced under $7,000 on either site, Kadri ranks first by DraftKings NHL DFS projections and second by FanDuel projections. It gives him solid point-per-dollar value regardless of where he’s rostered, and his NHL DFS projections are under 5% for both DraftKings and FanDuel.

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NHL DFS Picks Today: Winger

Filip Forsberg (NSH vs. ANH): DraftKings – $7,800 | FanDuel – $9,400

On the topic of ice-time concerns, Forsberg averaged nearly 19 minutes a night over his first 30 games this season, a number that has fallen to 17:38 over his last 10 games. He does have five goals, five assists and 3.8 shots per game in that span, so it’s not as if the ice-time drop is crushing his DFS value. That shot rate is key, as he’s second among regular NHL forwards in that 10-game stretch by shot attempts per minute, so he’s staying heavily involved in the offense.

Like the centers named above, this is a tremendous matchup for Forsberg. Anaheim is in town and is by far the most penalized team in the league over the last eight weeks; since Nov. 14, the Ducks have been taking a whopping 5.2 penalties per game (excluding majors) while no other team in the league is higher than 4.2. The last four weeks alone have seen the Ducks in the bottom 5 of the league by expected goals against at five-on-five, and they just traded defenseman Jamie Drysdale. Like Kadri, this is a very good matchup for Forsberg at all offensive strengths.

Like Draisaitl, Forsberg’s NHL DFS projections are much lower on FanDuel (3.8%) than on DraftKings (19.3%). It gives DraftKings tournament players a decision to make, but he should be heavily considered for cash games, at the least.

Nikolaj Ehlers (WPG vs. CBJ): DraftKings – $6,700 | FanDuel – $7,200

In the NHL, one player’s injury misfortune can often be another player’s key to high-end production. That has happened with Ehlers, as he had 15 points and 2.5 shots per game through his first 25 games but has 16 points in 14 games while averaging 3.8 shots per game since the injury to Kyle Connor. His top line has been exceptional at five-on-five, creating 4.0 expected goals and 5.6 actual goals per 60 minutes in over 150 minutes together. Better linemates have led to better shot quality – Ehlers’s individual expected goals rate has jumped 50% since that injury – and more production.

Like so many others on our list today, this is a fantastic matchup for Ehlers, as Columbus is tied for 26th in the league by expected goals against per minute at five-on-five since Dec. 1. The Blue Jackets have also given up 12 power play goals against in 13 games without top center Boone Jenner, and it gives Ehlers a positive matchup at all strengths.

Ehlers’s points per $1,000 on DraftKings are 1.9, per Stokastic’s NHL DFS projections, while they are at 2.2 on FanDuel. That is good value for a player in his price range, and his DraftKings ownership projection is about half of the aforementioned Forsberg. It makes Ehlers and his linemates options for tournament formats.

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Dylan Guenther (ARI vs. BOS): DraftKings – $3,000 | FanDuel – $3,500

Guenther was called up over the weekend and he promptly scored his first goal of the season in his first game of the season. He has been in the minors all year and has been very productive down there; Guenther’s 29 minor league games have produced 28 points, and his points per game are nearly 28% higher than the next-closest regular teammate. In his 33-game NHL stint last season, he led the team in shot attempts per minute, so he appears to be a high-end prospect rounding into form. His first game on the weekend saw him skate on the top power play unit for Arizona.

Boston is in town, and it played an overtime game last night in Colorado, so the rest advantage is with Arizona. Importantly, Boston has taken the second-most penalties per game over the previous two months, so this is a spot where Guenther could see a lot of power play time. That stretch has seen the Bruins’ penalty kill outside the top 10 of the league by both shots and goals against per minute, so it isn’t an awful special team spot for our winger.

Guenther carries the third-highest DraftKings fantasy point projection for wingers priced $3,000 or less and sixth highest on FanDuel for those priced under $4,000. It gives him excellent point-per-dollar value across the board and makes him a cheap one-off option for tournaments.

NHL DFS Picks Today: Defense

Morgan Rielly (TOR vs. SJ): DraftKings – $6,300 | FanDuel – $7,400

One big change to Rielly’s NHL DFS profile this season is his shot blocking. He is over two blocks per game for the first time in his career and it’s led to 14 DraftKings block bonuses in 37 games; he had 10 DraftKings block bonuses in 65 games last season. Blocked shots shouldn’t be a big deal against an awful San Jose team, but it is a boost to his production regardless of the matchup. That matchup against the Sharks is tremendous, as the road team is dead last by expected goals against and 31st by actual goals against, per 60 minutes at five-on-five since Dec. 1. It has also allowed 15 power play goals in 17 games through that stretch, and that all bodes well for Rielly and the Leafs.

Rielly is fifth by NHL DFS projections on both sites tonight, but he’s priced outside the five most expensive defensemen on both sites, and that gives him good relative value. He has single-digit NHL DFS projections on both sites, too, so he can be used in tournaments.

Brandt Clarke (LA at TB): DraftKings – $2,800 | FanDuel – $3,500

Los Angeles called up the top defense prospect in hockey over the weekend and Clarke skated 15:43 in the team’s loss. In the minors, Clarke leads the American Hockey League for points by a defenseman with 32 in 30 games, averaging 3.2 shots per game. Ice time will be a concern for him, but he was slotted on the team’s second power play unit in his debut, and that’s valuable since the Kings have been giving the second power play quintet roughly 40% of the available ice time since the Christmas break. It gives a high-end offensive prospect good offensive minutes right out of the gate, even if he doesn’t play a lot of minutes overall.

A lack of minutes and NHL sample is keeping Clarke’s NHL DFS projections muted but he’s also projected for low single-digit ownership on both sites. That, along with his pedigree, makes him a punt defenseman to consider for this slate.

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NHL DFS Picks Today: Goalie

Andrei Vasilevskiy (TB vs. LA): DraftKings – $7,900 | FanDuel – $7,000

The big attraction to playing Vasilevskiy tonight is the opponent. Los Angeles has really struggled to score for a while now (probably why it called up Clarke), as it ranks 23rd by goals per minute at five-on-five since Dec. 1. On the flipside, that stretch has seen the Kings rank first by shots generated per minute at five-on-five, so there’s been a lot of shot volume without a lot of goals. Over the last two months, Tampa Bay has been better than league average in power play opportunities given per game, while Los Angeles is below average by power play opportunities drawn per game. Vasilevskiy stands to see a lot of volume tonight, and there might not be a lot of power play time against him. It bodes well for his DFS upside.

The Stokastic Goalie Stats section has Vasilevskiy with the fourth-highest projected save total tonight but he’s just 10th by projected goals against. That gap is what attracts us to him for tournaments, as he could see high levels of volume without a lot of goals against.

Top NHL DFS Stacks Today

EDM1: Zach Hyman – Connor McDavid – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

This line just cannot slow down, as it started filling the net as soon as its new coach was hired in mid-November, and its most recent 10 games have seen it create 4.5 expected goals and 4.8 actual goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five. The last two months have seen the Oilers earn the seventh-most power plays per game, and this Chicago roster has given up 13 power play goals in its last 15 games as the injuries have piled up. On a night where several high-end teams are in great matchups, this Oilers line is at the top of the list.

Edmonton’s top trio is the most expensive line on the board tonight, but it is also first by top-2 stack probability, per Stokastic’s Top Stacks Tool, and it is far clear of the next-closest team. That 30%-plus top-2 stack chance is giving it positive leverage, as ownership rates are expected to be half that number, and that makes it a strong tournament consideration.

SEA1: Tomas Tatar – Matty Beniers – Jordan Eberle

Seattle acquiring Tatar has been a huge boost to its top line, as it has outshot the opposition 52-41 in its time together at five-on-five, creating 3.9 expected goals and 4.5 actual goals per 60 minutes at that strength. It is still a small sample, but the offensive numbers have been better across the board as a trio, and that’s crucial to note for a filler stack. It faces a Buffalo roster that has been middle-of-the-road defensively at five-on-five over its last 15 games, and its penalty kill is 26th by shots against and 27th by goals against in that stretch. Seattle doesn’t boast a high-end power play, but Eberle and Beniers skate on the same unit, and that’s valuable for such a cheap NHL DFS line.

Like many filler stacks, Stokastic’s Top Stacks Tool has this trio with negative leverage, which means higher ownership levels than top-2 stack percentage. However, with so many expensive lines in good matchups tonight, filler stacks are important to roster construction, and this improved Kraken trio should be given some attention for tournaments.

Stokastic’s NHL Premium subscription is available in either weekly or monthly packages and includes NHL DFS projections, top stacks, expert Discord and more! Join today!

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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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