NHL DFS Picks Today: Nasty Nathan MacKinnon (April 18)

It is the final day of the NHL regular season, which is always interesting from a DFS perspective. Los Angeles and Vegas still have playoff seeding to figure out, and they’re both at home to Draft Lottery teams. There will be plenty of line changes, veterans resting for the postseason, and young players getting a game in across all six matchups, so Stokastic members should double-check the Discord before lock for roster updates. Nonetheless, onto our NHL DFS picks today!

NHL DFS Picks Today: Lineup Decisions, Expert Advice & More

NHL DFS Picks Today: Center

Nazem Kadri (CGY vs. SJ)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Just once more, old boy, and then you can rest.

Kadri may be the player that found himself in this column most often this season and it’s because DraftKings had him priced between $5,000 and $6,000 for three months despite posting 12.3 DK fantasy points per game from November 1st through January 31st. For reference, that per-game production ended up being roughly his season average and now he’s at $7,400. That price is a bit high, but he’s also at home against the San Jose Sharks. Since the Trade Deadline, the Sharks are 31st by expected goals against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5, and dead last by actual goals against. It makes Kadri the final ‘This Guy Plays Against The San Jose Sharks’ forward of the season.

Two keys to Kadri’s current fantasy value are his line and his shot volume. In 123 minutes at 5-on-5 with Andrei Kuzmenko and Martin Pospisil next to Kadri, the Flames have created 34.1 shots, 3.5 expected goals, and 4.7 actual goals per 60 minutes. He is also averaging 21 shot attempts every 60 minutes so far in the month of April, a 91st percentile mark. With a good line, top power play minutes, high shot volume, and a great home matchup, things are lined up for our center to finish his season on a high note.

Of all centers priced under $8,000 on both DK and FD, Kadri leads Stokastic’s fantasy point projections tonight. He is also projected for heavy ownership – upwards of 30% on FD alone – so there will be a lot of interest in him tonight, but he is still fine to use either as a one-off option or part of a Calgary tournament stack.

William Karlsson (VGK vs. ANH)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

This is one player whose value will fluctuate based on the Vegas lineup. Golden Knights forward Chandler Stephenson has missed some games recently, and when he’s out of the lineup, it is Karlsson that gets moved to the team’s top power play unit. That is vital news for tonight because his team hosts Anaheim, and the Ducks are the most penalized team in the league this season, and sit with 4.9 minor penalties taken per game over the last six weeks. That is second-most in the NHL and the most of any team on this slate by 35.8%. Anaheim has allowed 30 power play goals against in that 19-game span, by far the most of any team (next-closest is Toronto with 18). It is a tremendous power play matchup for Vegas, and Karlsson’s top PP status is important for his DFS value.

Karlsson has also formed a solid third-line duo with Anthony Mantha as Vegas is creating 37.1 shots and 4.6 goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 with them on the ice. They haven’t had much trouble creating against the depth of the opposition, and Anaheim is 22nd by expected goals against at 5-on-5 over the last six weeks, landing 25th by actual goals against per 60 minutes. It gives a very good depth line a great matchup, with Karlsson’s PP minutes putting him over the top.

At his position, among those priced under $6,000 on DK or $7,000 on FD, Karlsson sits third by fantasy point projections, and the highest outside of the Calgary/San Jose game. His status as the lone potential top PP guys for his line makes him a one-off target in tournaments.


NHL DFS Picks Today: Winger

Kirill Kaprizov (MIN vs. SEA)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Despite Minnesota being out of the playoff race for weeks now, Kaprizov is still getting as much ice time as he can handle with his last 10 games seeing an average of 23:28 per night. He has just one game under 21 minutes in that span, and he posted nine goals, seven assists, and 4.1 shots per contest. His top line has been tremendous under new coach John Hynes by creating 38.1 shots, 3.6 expected goals, and 5.1 actual goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 in over 365 minutes together. In just two games against Seattle this season, he has two goals and two assists with six shots on goal. He has been excellent against a lot of teams, and the Kraken are no exception.

Kaprizov will line up against Seattle’s top-line duo of Matty Beniers and Andre Burakovsky and they have struggled defensively this season: the Kraken allow 68 shot attempts, 31.7 shots, and 2.8 expected goals per 60 minutes with that duo on the ice. The sample isn’t big – about 86 minutes – but Burakovsky’s lines have struggled defensively all season long so it’s not much of a surprise. It gives our winger a good home matchup to close his season.

As expected, Kaprizov leads all wingers by fantasy point projections tonight. Like Kadri, he will have high ownership but nowhere close to that 30% mark; his projection is around 15% on both sites. As a high-end producer in a good home matchup, he is acceptable by himself or part of a Minnesota stack.

Jonathan Drouin (COL vs. EDM)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Colorado has nothing to play for tonight but should ice a full lineup – they have been off since Sunday and this is their final game until the playoffs start, so they won’t want their players sitting around for too long. That means Drouin will be on Colorado’s top line, and that trio has been excellent at 5-on-5 with 39 shots, 3.3 expected goals, and 4.2 actual goals per 60 minutes in 476 minutes together. Individually, Drouin has produced points at a rate 24% higher when skating alongside Nathan MacKinnon than away from him. With our winger also skating on the team’s top power play unit, he’s in about as good a position as possible for any winger in the league.

Edmonton is in town, and they played last night in Arizona. They also have nothing to play for with their postseason also starting this weekend and this is their fifth game in seven days. They are likely going to rest a lot of their top stars so not only do the Avalanche have the rest advantage at home, but they are also almost certainly going to face Edmonton’s B-roster. It makes what would otherwise be a tough matchup much, much easier.

A lack of shot volume is keeping Drouin’s fantasy point projection lower than others in his price range. We will have to wait and see what Edmonton does with their lineup, but Drouin should be factored into Colorado stacks tonight if the Oilers do sit their stars.

Cutter Gauthier (ANH at VGK)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

One of the young players getting his first NHL game tonight is Anaheim’s Gauthier, a fifth overall pick from 2022. He just finished his second college season where he led his conference in goals with 38 in 41 games, finishing second in points behind Will Smith, the fourth overall pick from 2023. He is Anaheim’s top prospect and looks to be slotting on their first line with Leo Carlsson and Alex Killorn. He is also being inserted on the team’s top power play unit, so he’s really being put in a position to succeed tonight. Gauthier is widely regarded for his goal-scoring ability, but has good defensive ability, too, and that should mesh well with his line mates.

Noting that power play role is important for tonight. Going into Vegas is a tough 5-on-5 matchup, but the last six weeks have seen the Golden Knights rank 21st by shots against and 17th by goals against per minute on the penalty kill. It isn’t a soft special team matchup like Vegas has against Anaheim, but it’s not an overly difficult one, either. Also, while the home team has playoff seeding to play for, the seeding difference is being on the road against Edmonton or on the road against Dallas. That really isn’t a dangling carrot.

Of all minimum-priced wingers on DK tonight, Gauthier is coming in fourth by fantasy point projection. He is in a good spot to produce, if not a good matchup, so he’s fine as a salary-saving one-off winger for tournaments.

Gauthier is not listed in the FD player pool, so for a min-priced winger on that site, consider Trevor Lewis (LAK, $3,500) who is lining up on the team’s third line in a great home matchup.

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NHL DFS Picks Today: Defender

MacKenzie Weegar (CGY vs. SJ)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

This week, Weegar surpassed the 200-shot plateau (206) and has landed right on 200 blocks. He has had tremendous peripheral production this season and it has led to 12 DK shot bonuses, 34 DK block bonuses, and four games where he’s achieved both. He also sits fourth in the league for goals by a defenseman with 19 and has passed the 50-point mark. There is good coverage across all DFS categories, and he faces San Jose tonight. That great 5-on-5 matchup was outlined in the section on Kadri, but the Sharks are also giving up the second-most shots per minute on the penalty kill over the last six weeks. Were it not for great goaltending, their goals against numbers would be awful, and all this makes it a great across-the-board matchup for this defender.  

Weegar trails Colorado’s Cale Makar by fantasy point projections tonight, but the price discrepancy tips the value aspect into Weegar’s favor, and it’s neck-and-neck on DK for overall projection anyway. He is a high-priced blue liner to consider for this slate in any format.

Vincent Desharnais (EDM at COL)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

With Edmonton’s season winding down, they have been giving more ice time to their depth blue liners, Desharnais included. He has averaged 19:04 per game across his last five games where he averaged 16:26 per night in the 20 games prior. That additional ice time has led to more peripherals with 11 blocked shots in those five contests, hitting the DK block bonus on three occasions. It seems likely Edmonton will rest a couple of their top blue liners tonight, as they did last night, and that led to Desharnais skating 19:57. Actual point production may be tough to come by if the team rests its stars, but peripheral production is available with his increased role against a team icing a full lineup.

The likely ice-time jump and peripheral production have Desharnais third among sub-$3,000 defensemen on DK tonight. He is a cost-effective blue liner to consider for tonight.

The value is much worse on FD where blocks don’t matter as much, so consider Olen Zellweger (ANH, $3,800) as he’s running Anaheim’s top PP unit tonight.

NHL DFS Picks Today: Goalie

Laurent Brossoit (WPG vs. VAN)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Neither team has anything to play for, but Winnipeg is a home favourite in a game with a 5.5 total, so there are not a lot of goals expected here. The Jets have also been one of the best defensive teams in the league this season, which is why the average 5-on-5 shot that Brossoit faces is from 37.6 feet, or the second-longest average shot distance of any regular goalie this season. That has led to him allowing just 42 goals in 21 starts with three shutouts. He has been very good, but so has the team, and that all makes for many great DFS performances from our netminder this season.

Stokastic’s GoalieStats section have Brossoit 10th out of 12 goalies by expected save total tonight, but 6th through 10th is separated by fewer than 0.2 saves, so there is a big group of goalies with similar projections. He is a fine mid-priced option on DK tonight.

On FanDuel, Justus Annunen (COL, $8,100) makes more sense at a lower price if Edmonton does rest their high-end skaters.

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NHL DFS Top Stacks Today

COL1: Jonathan Drouin – Nathan MacKinnon – Mikko Rantanen

Though this is effectively a meaningless game for the Avalanche, as mentioned earlier the Oilers played last night and will almost certainly be resting their top stars. It was outlined in the section on Drouin how good this line is at 5-on-5, but they’re also perfectly correlated with the power play. That power play unit has been excellent this season with 12.4 goals scored per 60 minutes. For reference, Edmonton’s typical top unit will finish the season with 13.5 goals per 60 minutes, so Colorado’s goals-for rate is only 8.2% lower than the super-elite. They have the rest advantage, they have an opponent likely to sit their impact players, and they have an elite, correlated power play. There are a lot of reasons to like this Colorado trio tonight.

There are three lines projected for at least a 20% top-2 stack probability tonight, per the Top Stacks tool, and this Colorado trio has the lowest projected ownership. That may change as we get roster announcements from Edmonton, but they are in play regardless.

LA2: Trevor Moore – Phillip Danault – Viktor Arvidsson

Arvidsson has missed most of the season due to injury, so the sample is not large for this trio. However, in 82 minutes together at 5-on-5, they are creating 37.8 shots and 2.9 expected goals per 60 minutes. The goals rate is low at 2.1, but that they’re generating a lot of offense is very important. What is also important is facing a Chicago team that is 27th by expected goals against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 over the last six weeks, landing 23rd by actual goals against per 60 minutes. This trio isn’t perfectly correlated on the power play, but all three skate on one of the two Los Angeles PP units, so there is special team time available across the line. The Kings still have postseason seeding to play for, too, so there is a bit of incentive for them to turn in a good performance.

Of all lines priced under $19,000 tonight on DK, and under $20,000 on FD, this Kings trio has the highest top-2 stack probability on the former and second highest on the latter. They will carry ownership rates between 15-20% regardless of site, but in a great matchup on a short slate, that is perfectly acceptable.

*Additional stats used for our NHL DFS picks today column 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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