NHL DFS Picks Today: Matthew Tkachuk Forever & A Day (February 8)

There are just seven games in the NHL tonight but nearly every team playing has already had one game since their bye week ended (the Arizona Coyotes excepted). It provides a more normal environment than the last few days. Before we get to our NHL DFS picks today, our usual nudge:

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

Nazem Kadri: CGY at NJ

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

After a cold start to the season, Kadri had been a great producer for Calgary with 15 goals and 40 points across his last 41 games, or half a season’s worth of matchups.

That stretch of games has seen him hit the DraftKings shot bonus on 13 different occasions, and that kind of shot volume is what makes him a valuable DFS option on many nights.

Going into New Jersey, he’ll avoid the top shutdown line from Nico Hischier and with injuries permeating the Devils roster, there isn’t much else to fend off Kadri’s line at 5-on-5.

This is also a solid power play matchup for Kadri. Over the last eight weeks, the Devils have been taking the ninth-most minor penalties per game of any team in the league. The Flames have drawn the eighth-most minor penalties per game in that span, so there is a good chance that our center’s top power play unit gets their fair share of chances to score tonight. That power play unit has also seen their goal rate roughly double when compared to the first two months of the season, so the results have been much improved, and comes in time for a good matchup.  

Of all centers priced under $7,000 on DraftKings, Kadri ranks third by projected fantasy points. His projected ownership is considerably lower than either of the two centers above him and that is what makes him a target for tournaments.

Barrett Hayton: ARI vs. VGK

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

This recommendation is why we say to always double-check the Discord for updated information. Hayton has been out of the lineup since mid-November with a hand injury.

He was held pointless through his first 12 games of the season but had four points in five games before the injury.

A big key for Hayton was his role as he was skating both on the top line and top power play unit for Arizona. As a result, 13 of his 15 completed games saw him skate at least 18 minutes, and he was over 20 minutes in four of them. He was a key part of the top line’s offence not only this year, but the second half of last season as well.

Hayton skating on the top line is the big appeal, of course. Over the last two seasons, Hayton has posted 1.75 points/60 minutes at 5-on-5 with Nick Schmaltz next to him and just 0.82 points/60 without him. Vegas is in town and the Golden Knights have been a middle-of-the-road team defensively at 5-on-5 over the last eight weeks as they’ve endured some key injuries. It isn’t an easy matchup, but Hayton’s role means good line mates and likely heavy minutes, and that matters a lot.

Until we get confirmation that Hayton is in the lineup, we don’t have a fantasy point projection for him. With that said, at his price, with his expected role, Hayton should be considered among the low-cost centers tonight.

NHL DFS Picks: Winger

Matthew Tkachuk: FLA vs. WAS

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Tkachuk’s unlucky start to the season seems a distant memory as he’s posted 11 goals and 27 points in 17 games since returning from the Christmas break.

His shot volume hasn’t rebounded to last season’s levels, but that 17-game span saw him average 3.7 shots per game with four DraftKings shot bonuses.

Florida’s second line, Tkachuk included, has been dominant through those matchups by averaging 38.2 shots, 3.2 expected goals, and 4.8 actual goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. Having knocked off some rust from their bye week by playing Tuesday night, this line is primed for more great offence moving forward.

The matchup against Washington is a big part of Tkachuk’s appeal. Going back to that Christmas break, the Capitals have given up the second-most expected goals against/60 at 5-on-5 in the league, with only the San Jose Sharks faring worse. Washington has also given up the second-most actual goals against/60s, so the poor process is leading to poor results. Florida has the highest team total on the board – justifiably so – and all this bodes well for Tkachuk’s production.  

Among all wingers tonight, Tkachuk’s fantasy point projection ranks fourth on both sites. He is being priced outside the top-4 wingers on the two sites, though, and that gives him solid relative value. He should be considered in all formats for this slate.

Mathew Barzal: NYI vs. TB

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

New York’s long-term outlook with Patrick Roy as coach is still uncertain, but the short-term results for Barzal have been great with the new bench boss.

In five games under the team’s new direction, Barzal has two goals and four assists, totaling 17 shots on goal, and averaging 23:47 per night in ice time. He has surpassed 23 minutes in ice time in four of the five games, and those four games are four of his five highest ice time totals on the season.

The new coach is leaning heavily on his top forwards, and the offensive dividends have been there for our winger as a result.

Tampa Bay played last night and that means backup goalie Jonas Johansson is most likely getting the start. Out of 38 goalies with at least 1200 minutes played this season, Johansson is 32nd by Goals Saved Above Expected per 60 minutes. The Lightning also lost defenseman Mikhail Sergachev to injury last night, so this is a team playing their second road game in as many nights turning to a poorly performing goalie and down a key piece of their blue line. It all bodes well for Barzal.

Ranking third among wingers tonight on both DK and FD regardless of price, Barzal is one of the top value propositions on the board. It will drive a lot of ownership his way, so tournament players have a decision to make, but he and his line mates require consideration regardless.

Martin Nečas: CAR vs. COL

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

In six games returning from injury, Nečas has managed four goals and 30 total shots. He has formed a stellar pairing with center Jack Drury as the team generates 2.9 expected goals and 3.1 actual goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 with that duo on the ice.

Our winger has also skated at least 17 minutes in each game since returning while averaging 18:18 a night. That is second-most among Carolina forwards in that span so despite being off the top line, he’s being given top-line usage.

With the Hurricanes having one of the largest team totals on the slate tonight, that level of ice time is a welcome sight for DFS.

Though Nečas is on the team’s second power play unit, that isn’t a death-knell for special team production. Carolina’s second power play has scored four times in 21 minutes together and that is a high-level rate. They don’t get near the ice time that the top unit does, but that level of efficiency doesn’t require heavy minutes for production. With Colorado taking the fifth-most minor penalties per game over the last eight weeks, he could see reasonable special team usage even with the secondary minutes.  

Much like Barzal, Nečas is one of the top value options on the board regardless of the DFS site used as his point-per-$1,000 exceeds 2.2 on DK and 2.4 on FD. His projected ownership is much lower than Barzal’s, though, so he’s a mid-priced flank to look towards in tournaments.  

NHL DFS Picks: Defender

Noah Hanifin: CGY at NJ

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Even without top power play minutes for most of the season, Hanifin had posted eight goals and 25 points in 48 games, or a 43-point pace.

However, he has spent the last two Calgary games on the team’s top power play unit and has exceeded 25 minutes played in each contest.

As mentioned in the section on Kadri, New Jersey has been an undisciplined team for a couple of months now and that bodes well for Calgary getting their fair share of power play opportunities. For a defenseman that was having a productive season anyway, that is great news for his DFS upside.

Hanifin’s solid pricing on DK is driving ownership his way so he could end up one of the highest-owned blue liners on the board. On FD, though, it is coming in outside the top-10 rearguards so he’s a low-owned option on that site. He is fine to use regardless of where he’s rostered, though.

Neal Pionk: WPG at PHI

DraftKings Salary

FanDuel Salary

Winnipeg had defenseman Brenden Dillon suspended and he will be out of the lineup. Over the team’s last 10 games, Pionk had been earning the second-most ice time of anyone on their blue line.

Dillon wasn’t a heavily used rearguard, but it may open up some extra time for Pionk. As it is, Pionk had 22 shots and 13 blocks in those recent 10 games, and that kind of peripheral production at his price is checkmark in his column.

Facing Philadelphia means facing a team that has generally had a very good penalty kill this season, so that this defenseman doesn’t skate on the top unit isn’t terrible news for this matchup.

A lack of power play role and other cheap options are driving down Pionk’s ownership projection as he’s coming in under 3% on both DK and FD. For DFS players looking to pay down on the blue line, this defender is one player to have on a short list.

NHL DFS Picks: Goalie

Connor Hellebuyck: WPG at PHI

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

One thing that helps goalies post good DFS nights is facing a lot of easy shots.

Of the 32 goalies with at least 1100 minutes played at 5-on-5 this season, Hellebuyck is facing the second-longest average shot distance at 37.9 feet (the median is nearly 2.5 feet closer).

That allows Hellebuyck lots of time to react to the shot and it’s one reason why he’s had so many great DFS performances this season. He may not face heavy volume against a Philadelphia team that doesn’t normally generate a lot of shots, but the volume he does face should be easy to handle.

The GoalieStats section on Stokastic has Hellebuyck with the third-highest save total but second-lowest goals against total. That gap is where DFS value lives and it’s why he’s an expensive option in goal tonight, even in a road matchup.  

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NHL DFS Top Stacks Today

NYI1: Anders Lee – Bo Horvat – Mathew Barzal

As mentioned in the section on Barzal, this is a line that has been getting heavier usage since their head coach was replaced. The early returns have been very good by creating 41.7 shots and 4.2 expected goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 since Roy was hired. This was an excellent offensive line even with their old coach – 41.4 shots/60 and 3.8 expected goals/60 – so this is just a continuation of what they had been doing. With Tampa Bay playing their second game in as many nights and likely turning to their backup goalie, things are lining up well for this top New York Trio.

The good matchup and reasonable pricing are a double-edged sword for NYI1. On the one hand, they lead the Top Stacks tool by top-2 stack probability on FD tonight and rank third on DK. On the other hand, it is also driving a lot of ownership to their side. DFS players will need to decide if they want to endure all that ownership, but this is a solid spot for this line.  

VGK1: Ivan Barbashev – Nicolas Roy – Jonathan Marchessault

Injuries forced this line together for Vegas and things have gone very well for them by producing 34.7 shots, 3.1 expected goals, and 6.2 actual goals per 60 minutes in their 110 minutes together at 5-on-5. They are riding a hot shooting percentage of 17.9%, but even 10% shooting would have them as a high-end scoring line. Vegas played on Tuesday night, so they were able to get their legs under them following their bye week, but Arizona, their opponent tonight, is playing their first game since returning. This trio will avoid any top matchups the Coyotes have and that bodes well for this contest.

The Top Stacks tool has two lines on DraftKings tonight that are priced under $15,000 but also have a top-2 stack probability over 5%. This is one of those lines, but that cheap price is also driving heavy ownership their direction. Like the Islanders trio above, a decision must be made about how much ownership is too much, but they should still be considered as a filler stack.

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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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