NHL DFS Picks Today: Jack Hughes Value (December 5)

There are eight games on the NHL docket tonight with a lot of moving parts: Patrick Kane may or may not make his Detroit debut; Buffalo looks to be getting back Tage Thompson; Colorado is waiting on word regarding Cale Makar. It will be very important for Stoakstic members to check the Discord before lock for updated roster information. Nevertheless, onto our NHL DFS picks today.

NHL DFS Picks Today, Top Stacks, Lineup Optimizer Plays

NHL DFS Picks Today: Center

Jack Hughes (NJ at VAN): DraftKings – $9,500 | FanDuel – $10,500

Hughes has picked up where he left off before his injury by posting four goals, six assists, and 46 shots over his last seven games. He reached the DraftKings shot bonus in six of the seven games and has now reached at least five shots in a game nine times in 17 appearances. That stretch has also seen him skate at least 20 minutes in each contest, averaging nearly 23 minutes a night. His 5-on-5 scoring has started to improve and it’s kept his production rolling.

Whatever improvements Vancouver has made, their penalty kill remains an issue. They have given up 20 power play goals in 25 games this season, and 9 in 10 outings going back three weeks. New Jersey has thrived on the power play by scoring 27 times in 22 games this season, and Hughes has 14 power play points in 17 outings. It is a great spot for the Devils’ power play and should help Hughes keep producing.

Nathan MacKinnon leads Stokastic projections and he’s in a league of his own, but Hughes is second on the list tonight. The other difference is Hughes is projected for a fraction of MacKinnon’s ownership where the latter is between 35-45% on the two sites, and the former in single digits. It makes Hughes appealing for tournaments.

Marco Rossi (MIN at CGY): DraftKings – $3,800 | FanDuel – $5,000

It has been a good rookie season for Rossi as he’s posted eight goals and six assists in 22 games, with just one of those points coming on the man advantage. He leads all Minnesota forwards in points per minute at even strength and is tied for the lead in goals per minute. His role on the top line has meant more ice time as he’s averaged 16:43 per night over the last three weeks, skating at least 15 minutes in each outing. The team is scoring 3.3 goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 with Rossi and Kirill Kaprizov on the ice, a solid offensive number.

One big reason for leaning towards Rossi tonight is that Calgary appears to have lost starting goalie Jacob Markstrom due to injury; he left practice on Monday after taking a puck to his exposed right hand. He was on a slide of late but backup goalie Dan Vladař has been awful this year, posting an .883 save percentage in seven starts. It gives Rossi, and the Wild, a goaltending matchup they should be able to exploit.

There is low ownership expected for Minnesota’s top line tonight, Rossi included, with all three members projecting under 10% on the two sites, and Rossi under 5% individually. Considering the goaltending issues Calgary has, it is worth taking a look in this direction for tournaments.

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NHL DFS Picks Today: Winger

Filip Forsberg (NSH at CHI): DraftKings – $8,100 | FanDuel – $9,400

Very quietly, Forsberg is pacing for 46 goals, 96 points, and over four shots per game this season. One reason is their new coaching staff is focusing more on offense than coaching staffs in recent history, but Forsberg is also averaging a career-high 19:25 per night. More ice time for a guy whose prior two seasons saw 95th percentile per-minute production, and 91st percentile in per-minute shot rate, is usually a good thing and this is no exception. Points aside, he has reached the DK shot bonus in nearly half (11) his games (24).

Going into Chicago is a tremendous road matchup for this winger. Since Halloween, the Blackhawks are 30th in the league by expected goals against at 5-on-5, and they have given up 15 power play goals against in that stretch of 14 games. These two teams faced off three weeks ago and Forsberg and an assist with five shots on goal.

Forsberg ranks second among all wingers by both DK and FD projections tonight, and is the highest outside of the Colorado Avalanche, which will much higher ownership. It makes Forsberg a high-priced, lower-owned pivot away from what should be exceptional ownership on Colorado.

Mathew Barzal (NYI vs. SJ): DraftKings – $6,000 | FanDuel – $6,900

Since adding Anders Lee to the top line, the Islanders’ top trio is averaging 70 shot attempts, 4.1 expected goals, and 3.2 actual goals per 60 minutes. Those are all numbers considerably better than they were without Lee, and the rise in expected goals tells us they are generating more quality, which was the top line’s problem all season. Barzal had seven points in two games last week before missing Saturday’s game due to illness – he will be back for tonight.

San Jose has improved as the season’s worn on, but improved does not mean good, and they are still last in the league by overall expected goals against per minute over their last 10 games (25th by goals against rate in that stretch). With an improved offensive line while averaging three shots per game over the last month, Barzal is in a good spot to produce tonight.

The issue with Barzal, and the Islanders in general, is there will be a lot of ownership on them given their matchup against the Sharks. However, Barzal’s offense has come alive with Lee, and the top PP unit has been exceptional, so a power play stack with Barzal is a way to dilute that high ownership level in tournaments.

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Vladimir Tarasenko (OTT vs. NYR): DraftKings – $4,400 | FanDuel – $5,300

Ottawa has shuffled their lineup a bit and Tarasenko has been moved to the second line with Tim Stützle. They don’t have much time together this season, but in nearly 35 minutes at 5-on-5, that duo helped Ottawa create two goals and 32 shots. That is a lot of offense even in a small sample. What’s more is the return of defenseman Thomas Chabot had pushed Ottawa back to an even power play split, as the two games has seen virtually no gap in ice time between the first and second units, and that has added about 80 seconds of PP ice time per game to Tarasenko’s total relative to the prior few weeks. (Chabot is expected to miss tonight’s game, so whether they stick to the current PP setup is to be determined.)

Since New York added Vincent Trocheck to their second line, the result has been nearly 16% more shot attempts and 39% more expected goals against. The actual goals against has also skyrocketed, and that means a good matchup for Tarasenko and his line tonight. In those two games since Chabot’s return, he has averaged over 18 minutes a night, which is a big jump in usage.

Across the board, Ottawa looks to have low ownership levels tonight, and Tarasenko is no exception – he’s currently well under 5% on both DK and FD. Even if his PP role is back to where it was a couple weeks ago, his move to the second line gives him much better line mates.

NHL DFS Picks Today: Defense

Devon Toews (COL vs. ANH): DraftKings – $4,400 | FanDuel – $5,500

We are waiting for updates on Makar, who left the team’s game on Saturday due to injury and did not play Sunday. New information may not be available until late in the afternoon (Eastern Standard Time), so until then, the assumption he does not play. In his absence, Toews was moved to the team’s top power play unit. Our defender skated 27:38 in that contest, and has now exceeded 27 minutes in both December games. That top power play role for Colorado is important for tonight as Anaheim is still – easily – the most penalized team in the NHL at 4.5 times short-handed per contest.

As expected, Toews leads all defensemen by fantasy point projection for both DK and FD among those priced under $5,000 and $6,000, respectively. He will carry similarly high levels of ownership to their top forwards, but as long as Makar is out of the lineup, it’s hard to pass on him in cash games with his new role.

Tyler Myers (VAN vs. NJ): DraftKings – $3,500 | FanDuel – $4,300

Myers has started earning more ice time over the last month, averaging 20:14 over his last 14 games as compared to 17:18 across his first 11 games of the season. He has blocked 31 shots in those recent 14 appearances, hitting the DK block bonus on four occasions. There are seven assists mixed in there as well, so there’s even been a bit of offense. Of the 16 teams on this slate, New Jersey leads the way in shot attempts per minute this season, and that should give Myers plenty of opportunity to get in the way of some rubber. New Jersey is also 29th by goals against per minute at 5-on-5, so there’s even a chance to get on the scoresheet.

Among all defensemen priced under $4,000 on DK tonight, Myers is top-5 by fantasy projection, and that’s pushing his point-per-$1,000 over 2.0. That is great value in a good matchup so he can be used as a salary-saving one-off option.

For better value on FD, consider Minnesota Wild defender Jared Spurgeon ($3,800) whose cheap price makes him a target.

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NHL DFS Picks Today: Goalie

Elvis Merzlikins (CBJ vs. LA): DraftKings – $7,100 | FanDuel – $7,500

In 12 starts since Halloween, Merzlikins has posted a .916 save percentage while averaging over 30 saves per outing. After getting pulled in a loss to Florida on November 6th, he has reached the DK save bonus in five of nine starts. That span has seen him face the third-most shots per minute among all regular starters in the league, so there should be lots of volume for him against a Los Angeles team that has the third-most unblocked shots per minute over the last four weeks. These types of matchups can lead to awful starts (like that game against Florida) but can also lead to huge DFS performances like his 41-save win against Ottawa last Friday.

Merzlikins ranks second in Stokastic’s GoalieStats section by expected saves tonight, which is about expected. The problem is he’s also projected for the second-most goals against due to a tough matchup against Los Angeles. Like Jordan Binnington last night, though, high volume can lead to very good DFS performances as long as the goalie isn’t shelled. That is a risk worth taking for a cheap tournament goalie.

Top NHL DFS Stacks Today

DET1: Robby Fabbri – Dylan Larkin – Lucas Raymond

Kane may or may not be in the lineup for this game, but Larkin and Raymond were both practicing on the team’s top power play in practice with Kane there. Larkin and Raymond should be together both at 5-on-5 and on the power play, which is good news for tonight. They face a Buffalo team that is now without all of Alex Tuch, Jack Quinn, and Jordan Greenway due to injury. This team has been whittled down up front, and they were bottom-5 by both expected goals against and actual goals against per minute since the Tage Thompson injury. It gives Detroit’s top line a tremendous road matchup.

This Detroit trio has next to no ownership expected tonight as they are coming in under 1% on both DK and FD, per the Top Stacks tool. It makes them a high-upside, low-owned option against a Buffalo team that will be missing starting goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkkonen.

COL2: Logan O’Connor – Ross Colton – Miles Wood

As mentioned in the section on Toews, this is a great power play matchup for Colorado and no one on this line is on the top PP unit. If Makar is out, though, the team has scored 22% fewer PP goals over the last two seasons with anyone else but him running the top PP unit. Lots of opportunities means they’re in a good spot still, but not as good as with Makar. This Avs trio, meanwhile, has generated 37 shots and 4.2 expected goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5, which is a tremendous offensive number. Once their shooting percentages regress positively, there will be a lot more goals, even if they only play 13-15 minutes a night.

This line is expected to have a lot of negative leverage tonight, per Top Stacks, as the Avalanche have the highest team total on the slate and are at home. All the same, they are cheap enough to use as a filler in a Josh stack on DraftKings (six skaters from the same team), or to use alongside low-owned options like New Jersey and Vancouver.

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*Additional best NHL DFS picks today stats from Natural Stat Trick

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Michael Clifford
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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