NHL DFS Picks Today: John Carlson on the Upswing (January 16)

There are just eight games in the NHL tonight but there are a lot of teams playing their second game in as many nights. That means a lot of late news, so it’ll be especially important for Stokastic members to double-check the Discord before lock for updated information.

NHL DFS Picks Today, Top Stacks, Lineup Optimizer Plays

NHL DFS Picks Today: Center

Leon Draisaitl (EDM vs. TOR): DraftKings – $7,500 | FanDuel – $9,400

It has been a nice goal-scoring stretch for Draisaitl with eight goals in his last 11 appearances. Importantly in that stretch, he has averaged 3.0 shots per game. After a midseason lull, his shot volume is starting to tick back up again and that’s crucial for the high cost. Also of import is that his second-line duo with Warren Foegele has kept up its shot generation by helping Edmonton land over 40 shots per 60 minutes together at five-on-five thus far in January, even a slight improvement on what it managed to that point this season and a very high rate overall.

Toronto is in town tonight and one advantage that opponent provides Draisaitl is a weak Leafs penalty kill; over Toronto’s last 20 games, it ranks 29th by shots against and 23rd by goals against per 60 minutes while short-handed. The Leafs don’t take many penalties, but they are having a very tough time killing the ones they are taking, and that bodes well for Draisaitl and Edmonton’s elite power play.

Draisaitl’s non-elite shot rate keeps his fantasy point projection lower than other expensive options tonight, but that will also keep his ownership lower than some of those options. He should be considered in Edmonton tournament stacks against Toronto.

Ross Colton (COL at OTT): DraftKings – $3,400 | FanDuel – $4,600

Injuries and other lineup problems have meant a lot more ice time for Colton recently as he skated a shade under 19 minutes last night and a shade over 19 minutes in Colorado’s game last Saturday. A vital part of that rise in ice time is his move to the team’s top power play unit. That top power play unit has scored an absurd 23 goals over the team’s last 20 games, while Ottawa has allowed 11 power play goals against in 12 games since hiring a new coach. This is a very good special team matchup for Colton.

The other part of the matchup is Ottawa’s weak defense at five-on-five. Also in that 12-game stretch since hiring a new coach, the Senators are 30th by shots against, 31st by expected goals against, and 31st by actual goals against per 60 minutes. Colorado’s injuries leave it thin for Colton’s linemates , but if this is still a good offensive matchup even if Colton is stuck with weaker wingers.

Among all centers priced under $4,000 on DraftKings tonight, Colton is second by fantasy point projections but has high point-per-dollar value. His improved role is likely to drive ownership his way, but he is fine as a salary-saving one-off in tournaments.

Colton is listed as a winger on FanDuel, so for a cheap center on that site, look towards Aliaksei Protas (WSH, $3,900) who projects very well for his price in a good matchup.

NHL DFS Picks Today: Winger

Brady Tkachuk (OTT vs. COL): DraftKings – $7,400 | FanDuel – $8,600

Even if Ottawa is declining defensively, it hasn’t really hurt Tkachuk’s shot volume as he’s managed 49 shots in 12 games under his new coach. He has landed at least four shots on goal in 9 of 12 contests so he’s staying very involved offensively, even if the defensive end has suffered. Tonight is nominally a tough matchup against Colorado, but the Avalanche are playing their second road game in as many nights and are so short at forward that they’re playing defensemen up front. If there was ever a time for Ottawa to catch one of the best teams in the league, tonight is that night.

Josh Norris is injured for the Senators and that’s morbidly good news for Tkachuk; when there is any center other than Norris next to Tkachuk at five-on-five this season, the team creates 18% more expected goals and a whopping 71% more actual goals per 60 minutes. The goal scoring is more a function of low shooting percentages when Norris/Tkachuk would skate together, but the additional expected goals are a good sign of a better offensive position for our winger.

Tkachuk leads all wingers priced under $8,000 on DraftKings and $9,000 on FanDuel by fantasy point projections. He is a strong play in all formats so he should be among the top winger considerations for any contest on either site tonight.

Max Pacioretty (WSH vs. ANA): DraftKings – $5,100 | FanDuel – $4,500

After a low ice time game in his first appearance coming of his Achilles injury, Pacioretty has averaged 15:46 in ice time and 18.3 shot attempts per 60 minutes across five games. That level of shot volume is very good, especially for a guy coming off that severe injury. Anaheim is in town tonight and that helps with the matchup as the Ducks played yesterday in Florida, so this is a road back-to-back situation. Anaheim is also the most penalized team in the league – by a wide margin – and though Pacioretty’s power play role is uncertain depending on Alex Ovechkin’s own injury status, even secondary minutes against an undisciplined team like this are valuable.

Pacioretty is lined up with Dylan Strome, the center who has been on the ice for the most shot attempts and expected goals of any Washington forward this season. It gives Pacioretty a good playmaking center to skate with, and that is vital for a high-end goal scorer. In fact, they’re finding success already as the team has scored four goals in 73 minutes with this duo on the ice at five-on-five, a very good goal-scoring rate.

If Ovechkin returns (he was at morning skate for Washington), it is likely going to drive ownership away from Pacioretty. That makes him, and his linemates, targets for tournaments tonight.

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Fabian Zetterlund (SJ at CHI): DraftKings – $4,200 | FanDuel – $4,500

This is truly a matchup for the ages. Going back to 2013-14, this season’s San Jose and Chicago rosters have the fourth worst and actual worst points percentages of any team in any single regular season. These are two awful rosters, but someone (probably) has to score so here we are.

Anyway, a key to the matchup in Chicago for Zetterlund is that he’ll often avoid Chicago’s shutdown line. That might seem like an odd phrase, considering how bad the Blackhawks are, but with Chicago’s Jason Dickinson line off the ice at five-on-five over the last six weeks, the team allows 83% more expected goals against and its goals against more than triples. It is night and day with that line off the ice, and that is very good news for Zetterlund’s own unit.

Zetterlund’s second line has genuinely been good offensively, or at least passable considering the rest of this team: It is creating 2.6 expected goals and 2.8 actual goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five. That is good enough to take advantage of weak Chicago depth.

Despite the roster around him, the matchup for Zetterlund is driving his points-per-$1,000 projection towards 2.0 on DraftKings and 2.2 on FanDuel. Those are solid value rates, so he and his linemates are all in play for tournament DFS contests.

NHL DFS Picks Today: Defense

John Carlson (WSH vs. ANA): DraftKings – $5,900 | FanDuel – $6,600

Though Washington has had a tough time scoring this season, Carlson has remained steady for DFS purposes by averaging over two shots and two blocks per game. His big production problem was related to his shooting percentage, as he shot just 1.3% across his first 35 games of the season – for a blue liner that averaged over 7% in each of his prior seven seasons, that was a big deviation. However, he has scored twice in his last six games as the shooting percentage regression has started, and that turns him into a much more valuable DFS option.

Carlson ranks third by fantasy point projections for both DraftKings and FanDuel tonight even as he’s eighth by cost on DraftKings and 10th on FanDuel. That gives him good relative value and though high ownership is probable given the matchup, he remains a high-value target in all formats.

Jamie Oleksiak (SEA at NYR): DraftKings – $3,700 | FanDuel – $4,200

This is one where we’ll need to wait for updates from Seattle’s coach. It played yesterday without top defenseman Vince Dunn in the lineup, and Adam Larsson left that game after the first period due to illness. The Kraken could be missing their top pair, and that would give Oleksiak a lot of ice time. He skated over 28 minutes in yesterday’s game, and that is unlikely to repeat, but he could very well push towards 25 minutes if Dunn and Larsson are both missing. That is great news for a blue liner who is in the 91st percentile of the league in shots blocked per 60 minutes.

Because blocks are more valuable on DraftKings than FanDuel, Oleksiak’s point-per-dollar value is stronger on the former than the latter. Even with that discrepancy, there could be a lot of ice time for a cheap blue liner tonight, and that’s worth noting for DFS lineups.

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NHL DFS Picks Today: Goalie

Lukas Dostal (ANA at WSH): DraftKings – $6,900 | FanDuel – $6,800

There are 41 goalies with at least 1000 minutes played this season, and Dostal leads them all by facing 35.8 shots per 60. That level of shot volume can lead to very bad DFS performances – by DraftKings fantasy points, he has finished in the negatives twice in 17 starts – but that shot volume can also lead to very productive outings as he has five starts with at least 20 DraftKings points. Washington isn’t a high shot volume team, but it has also been a bottom-10 scoring team all season, so it alleviates concerns of our goalie getting blown up.

A lack of shot volume facing a team that doesn’t shoot a lot is the overarching concern, and it’s one thing keeping Dostal’s point-per-dollar value low. However, at such a cheap price against a team that often struggles to find the back of the net, he is a salary-saving option in goal for DFS players.

Top NHL DFS Stacks Today

NYR2: Artemi Panarin – Vincent Trocheck – Alexis Lafrenière

Hosting Seattle would normally be a tough matchup offensive for New York, but as mentioned earlier, the Kraken may be without their top two defensemen for this game. The road team is also playing its second game in as many nights, and starting goalie Joey Daccord will not be in net as he was the starter yesterday.

This second line refuses to slow down as it has been exceptional since being assembled, and its last 10 games alone have seen it create 3.6 expected goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five, tallying 13 times in 129 minutes together. Even Lafrenière, who isn’t on the top power play unit, has 35 shots in those 10 outings.

The return of Kaapo Kakko is likely to drive more ownership to New York’s top line and leave this one under-owned. This trio has been exceptional, though, and face a tired, injured Kraken roster.

CGY1: Jonathan Huberdeau – Elias Lindholm – Yegor Sharangovich

A big change of late for Calgary was moving Huberdeau back to the team’s top power play unit. While its power play hasn’t been high-end this season, it is hosting Arizona tonight and over the last six weeks, the Coyotes’ penalty kill is giving up the second-most shots per 60. This is a good power play matchup for a top power play unit that doesn’t get many of those. Both Lindholm and Sharangovich have been averaging over 19 minutes a game since the holiday break, and that heavy usage, plus the perfect power play correlation, is what pushes this Calgary trio into this column.

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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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