NHL DFS Picks Today: Jack Hughes Mania (February 22)

There is a huge 11-game slate on the board tonight and features key names missing as Artemi Panarin and Mark Stone have recently been injured. It makes for interesting matchups, so let’s get to them and our NHL DFS picks today.

As always, Stokastic members are encouraged to double-check the Discord before lock for updated roster information.

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NHL DFS Picks Today: Lineup Decisions and More

NHL DFS Picks: Center

Nathan MacKinnon (COL at DET)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

MacKinnon’s last 41 games, or half the season, have resulted in 27 goals, 45 assists, and 195 shots, which is obscene production. A big part of what helps him to that great value is playing consistently high minutes as he has averaged 23:32 per night in that span, exceeding 23 minutes in seven of his last eight games going back to the All-Star break.

His top line has been productive all year, but those eight games since the break have seen them produce 41.4 shots/60 minutes and 4.4 expected goals/60 minutes, and that is outstanding chance generation.

Going into Detroit presents a very good matchup for Colorado. Going back to January 1st, the Red Wings are 26th in the league by expected goals against/60 at 5-on-5, ranking 20th by actual goals against as their goalies have saved them on many nights. Detroit has also produced a poor penalty kill, giving up the third-most shot attempts and seventh-most shots per 60 minutes when down a man in that span. Again, great goaltending has helped keep them in games, but they can’t rely on goaltenders to do that every night, especially against players like MacKinnon.

As if often the case, MacKinnon leads all centers by fantasy point projection tonight, but even for 11 games, the gap between him and the next-closest option isn’t even close: nearly 50% higher on DraftKings and nearly 30% on FanDuel. He is a very strong cash game option and can be used by himself or part of a stack in tournaments.

Anthony Cirelli (TB vs. WAS)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

A big change in Cirelli’s fantasy value recently has been his move to Tampa Bay’s top power play unit. Just 5 of 31 points this season have been on the man advantage for the center, while the player he’s replacing (Nick Paul) had 12 of his 29 points, and half his goals, come on the power play.

Facing the Washington Capitals brings a team that has given up 14 power play goals against in their last 20 outings while ranking in the bottom-10 of the league by shots against/60 on the PK in that span. Conversely, Tampa Bay’s power play ranks among the elite like Edmonton and Toronto in terms of goals-for/60, so this is big for Cirelli’s DFS value.

The Capitals visiting also brings a great 5-on-5 matchup. Those 20 recent games have the road side with the fourth-worst expected goals against/60 in the league, ranking 22nd by goals against/60. In Cirelli’s 100 minutes alongside Nikita Kucherov this season, Tampa Bay generates 3.0 expected goals and 5.3 actual goals per 60 minutes, so this is a center in good matchups across the board with a valuable increase in usage.

Among centers priced under $5,000 on DK and $6,000 on FD, Cirelli ranks second and first by point projection tonight. He is likely to carry double-digit ownership on both sites, but given his reasonable price and vastly improved role, he and his line mates are tournament options for this slate.

NHL DFS Picks: Winger

Jesper Bratt (NJ vs. NYR)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Bratt has hit a cold spell with zero goals in his last seven games, but it isn’t as if he’s not been involved offensively. Those seven games have seen him land 23 shots (3.3/game) while registering six assists and over 19:30 per night in ice time.

His top line has produced 4.3 expected goals and 4.9 actual goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 this season in over 240 minutes together as they’ve largely been tremendous offensively. Facing a New York team that will be without Artemi Panarin – an MVP candidate this season – makes for a bit of an easier matchup, too.

New Jersey’s power play has struggled since the return of Jack Hughes with just two goals in seven games, but there’s some bad luck here. They have generated 36 shots in fewer than 28 minutes of ice time, shooting just 5.6% as a quintet. Up until Hughes’s injury, they were shooting 15.9%, so there’s a lot of upside to come when that low percentage starts turning. Betting on talent is a good idea and that’s the case with Bratt and the power play.

Ownership projections have Bratt around 3% or less on both sites, so he won’t be a popular option despite his team’s 3.3 home total. That low ownership makes him an option for tournaments, preferably as part of some New Jersey stack.

Kyle Palmieri (NYI at STL)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

When St. Louis is at home, they like to send out their top line against opposing top lines. In calendar 2024, the Blues are giving up nearly 27% more expected goals against/60 and nearly 56% more actual goals against/60 at 5-on-5 with that top line off the ice.

Since the New York Islanders hired their new coach 10 games ago, Palmieri’s line has controlled over 63% of the shots at 5-on-5 while generating 2.9 expected goals/60 minutes. Individually, Palmieri has 4 goals and 36 shots in those 10 games, and he’ll avoid the tough shutdown matchup tonight. That is a good spot to be.

Palmieri is also part of the top power play unit and St. Louis has been struggling on the penalty kill – their last 20 games have seen them 25th by shots against/60 and 21st by goals against/60. They don’t take a lot of penalties, which is their saving grace, but the Islanders have had a very good power play for most of the season and can take advantage of the few opportunities they’re provided.

Of all the wingers priced under $5,000 on DK and $6,000 on FD, Palmieri ranks third and fourth by fantasy point projections tonight. A reasonable price makes him an option as a one-off winger, but his correlation with centre Brock Nelson brings a stack into play for tournaments.

Alex Laferriere (LA vs. NSH)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

This will require paying attention to the news through the day as Los Angeles winger Viktor Arvidsson left the team’s last game with an injury very early and did not return. In his absence, Laferriere was moved to the top line and skated 16:06, his fourth-highest ice time total of the season.

He had averaged just over two shots per game in his prior 15 outings but that was while averaging 13:31 per night in ice time. If he’s in the 16- to 17-minute range because of his improved role, it boosts his peripheral floor, and that’s always welcome with a player at his cheap cost. We will have to see what the team decides to do at their morning skate.

Nashville is in town and it’s not a bad matchup for Laferriere and the Kings. Since January 1st, the Predators are 22nd in the league by expected goals against/60 at 5-on-5, and 19th by actual goals against/60. In a solid home matchup with a (potentially) much bigger role, Laferriere’s penchant for shot volume plays well for DFS.

Laferriere’s fantasy point projections rank second among all wingers priced $3,000 or lower on DK and $4,000 or lower on FD. Be sure to scour for news on the Kings lineup tonight, but he makes a valuable punt option tonight.

NHL DFS Picks: Defender

Miro Heiskanen (DAL at OTT)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

With the injuries on Dallas’s blue line, Heiskanen has had a couple big-minute games recently by skating 24:33 and 26:40 in his last two outings. He has also been paired with Thomas Harley of late and Dallas is utterly dominant at 5-on-5 with those two on the ice this season: 35.5 shots/60, 3.1 expected goals/60, 4.5 actual goals/60, and a 63.7% expected goal share in 237 minutes together.

In fact, in the nine games since being reunited, Heiskanen has managed 31 shots on goal as his peripheral production has picked up, too. Dallas has one of the highest road totals on the board and Heiskanen’s usage and improved defense partner are very good for his upside.

On DraftKings, Heiskanen’s points-per-$1,000 value is just over 2.0, the only defenseman priced $5,000 or higher to exceed that number. On FanDuel, he has the highest point projection for any blue liner under $7,000. He makes a fine defender to roster on this slate, even with his high ownership projections.

Brandon Carlo (BOS at CGY)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

An injury to Hampus Lindholm meant a lot more minutes for Boston’s top blue liners last night. That includes Carlo, who skated 25:40 in an overtime win, his highest ice time total on the season. Carlo has averaged nearly 2.2 blocks for every 25 minutes of ice time this season, so the DraftKings block bonus is very much in play for the rearguard in this one.

In fact, he had five blocks last night in Edmonton, and the 10 games this season where he’s skated at least 22 minutes resulted in 24 shots blocks. He should have plenty of opportunities to step in front of the puck tonight.

Despite improved usage, there is not much projected ownership on Carlo tonight as he comes in under 1% projected on DraftKings and is even lower on FanDuel. He makes a better option on the former than the latter because of the importance of blocked shots, but is a punt option for this slate.

NHL DFS Picks: Goalie

Sergei Bobrovsky (FLA at CAR)  

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Florida has been on a hot streak for a couple months now, going 19-3-2 in their last 24 games. The team’s defense has been a huge part of it as Bobrovsky’s average shot at 5-on-5 has come from a distance of 39.4 feet, the furthest of any goalie in the league (the median is about 36 feet in that span).

Being able to see shots from distance is a way for Bobrovsky to make a lot of easier saves, and he faces a Carolina team that thrives on involving shots from the blue line for their offense. It is a mix that gives Bobrovsky DFS upside tonight, even as his team takes too many penalties.

Of all goalies on the board, Bobrovsky’s DraftKings projection is third among those priced $7,500 or less, which makes him a cheap-ish goalie to target on that site.

Bobrovsky’s elevated price on FanDuel, so for a cheap goalie on that site, consider Andrei Vasilevskiy (TB, $7,100) who projects much better in that price range.

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NHL DFS Top Stacks Today

NJ2: Jack Hughes – Erik Haula – Tyler Toffoli

With Panarin out for the Rangers, the matchup gets much easier for Hughes as New York’s second line gives up 35% more shot attempts against per 60 minutes with any winger but Panarin on the left side. Conversely, the Hughes line has generated a lot of offense since being assembled with 41 shots/60 and 3.1 expected goals/60 at 5-on-5. A low shooting percentage (6.1%) has kept their goal-scoring lower than it should be, but it’s not for lack of trying. Hughes himself has 42 shots in seven games since returning from injury, while Toffoli has 29. Those two combining for over 10 shots/game alone tells us just how involved they are offensively.

The top lines from Colorado, Tampa Bay, and Colorado separate themselves for top-2 stack probability tonight, per the Top Stacks tool. Of all lines priced under $18,000 on DK, this New Jersey line carries the third-highest top-2 stack percentage (7.8%) and is expected for lower ownership (5.5%). That gap is a bit bigger on FanDuel, so there’s positive leverage on both sites, making this trio tournament targets.

STL1: Jordan Kyrou – Robert Thomas – Pavel Buchnevich   

There are teams with concentrated scoring and the Blues certainly qualify. In the 27 games under their new coach, this Blues line has totaled 83 points while the rest of the Blues forwards (11 of them including call-ups) have combined for 77. For any improvements made at 5-on-5 by the New York Islanders under their new coach, the penalty kill remains abysmal as those 10 games have resulted in the second-most shots against/60 and second-most actual goals against/60. This Blues trio all skate the top power play together, and that perfect correlation matters a lot in this excellent power play matchup.

By top-2 stack percentage, this St. Louis unit is just behind that of the NJ1 described above, but a more expensive price on FanDuel is keeping their ownership projections very low (1.1%). They are a fine stack to use on either site because of their perfect correlation, and have positive leverage regardless of which site they’re rostered.

*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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