NHL DFS Picks Today: Nazem Kadri in a Smash Spot (March 16)

It is a nine-game NHL slate for this Saturday night, featuring a heavyweight matchup between the Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche while the San Jose Sharks and Columbus Blue Jackets face off in our daily draft lottery special. As always, Stokastic members should double-check the Discord before lock for roster updates. Without further ado, let’s dive into our top NHL DFS picks for today, Saturday, March 16.

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

NHL DFS Picks Today: Center

Nazem Kadri (CGY vs. MON)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Trades and injuries have pushed Kadri into a bigger role for Calgary. He has averaged 19:05 per night in ice time over his last 10 games, which is nearly a full minute more than what he had been earning the 20 games prior. He has skated at least 17 minutes in all 10 of those appearances, so it’s not as if there are a couple of high-minute games skewing everything; he’s being relied upon consistently. That recent 10-game stretch resulted in three goals, six assists, and three shots per game for the center, so there has been very good production to go along with the extra ice time.

Montreal visits Calgary tonight, and that brings good across-the-board matchups for Kadri. The Canadiens are 21st by expected goals against per 60 at 5-on-5 since the All-Star break and 22nd by actual goals against per 60. The visiting team’s penalty kill is also 24th by shots allowed per 60 in that span, so it’s a positive matchup for Kadri on special teams as well.

Kadri ranks fourth by fantasy point projections on both DraftKings and FanDuel tonight but ranks well outside the top-five centers by salary on both sites. His salary gives him excellent value tonight, but it’s also driving a lot of ownership his way as he pushes past 20% on DK and FD.

Evgeny Kuznetsov (CAR at TOR)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

It has been four games for Kuznetsov in a Carolina uniform, and he has one goal on 10 shots in those four appearances. Importantly, he was moved up to the team’s second scoring line after his first outing and in the three games on that unit, he has skated at least 15:30 each night, peaking at 17:07 in Carolina’s win on Thursday. Though he has typically been a playmaker over the last few seasons, the Hurricanes generate a lot of shots every season, so there is a real opportunity for Kuznetsov to add more shots on goal to his DFS profile as he has during his brief Carolina stint so far.

Importantly for tonight, our center has also been used on his new team’s top power-play unit since his arrival. Since the All-Star break, Toronto is 28th in the league by shots allowed per 60 on the penalty kill and 23rd by goals against per 60. There is nowhere near enough of a sample to know what kind of impact Kuznetsov will have on Carolina’s power play, but he’s at least getting the opportunity, and at his DFS price, we can’t ask for much more than that.

Kuznetzov’s fantasy point projections rate poorly, even at his reasonable costs, but a lot of that is tied to his value in Washington over the last couple of years. It will take a leap of faith from DFS players as to whether he’s regained his form, but at such a low cost, particularly on DK, it may be worth finding out.


NHL DFS Picks Today: Winger

Zach Hyman (EDM vs. COL)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Edmonton has recently reunited Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with Hyman on the top line and along with Connor McDavid, the trio has been superb under new coach Kris Knoblauch: 4.5 expected goals per 60, 5.1 actual goals per 60, and a 67.5% expected goal share in 393 minutes together. Individually, Hyman has been on an incredible goal-scoring streak as he has 16 tallies in 19 games since the All-Star break while averaging 3.4 shots per game. He is riding a high shooting percentage in that span, but he’s also fourth in the league by individual expected goals per 60 across those 19 outings, so he’s generating a lot of quality shots from in close, which is a product of both his style and his elite line-mates.

Colorado is in town today, and they are an elite team, particularly on offense. However, since the All-Star break, they rank 15th by expected goals against per 60 at 5-on-5 and are 23rd by shots against per 60 on the penalty kill. This is not an elite defensive team, so considering how good Hyman’s line has been at 5-on-5, Edmonton’s power play remains among the best in the league.

Hyman’s shot rate has been dropping over the last month or so, and that’s hurting his overall fantasy point projection. However, that’s also keeping his ownership projections very low at 3.1% on DK and under 2% on FD. Getting a winger with a 60-goals/82-game pace at very low ownership is always appealing for tournaments.   

Fabian Zetterlund (SJ at CBJ)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

It is an interesting matchup between San Jose and Columbus. Both teams are heading for the Draft Lottery and are among the bottom-5 squads by goals against per 60 this season. Despite that poor team around him, Zetterlund has had a solid offensive season with 17 goals and 2.4 shots per game. A thinned-out roster has led to more usage for our winger of late by averaging 19:45 per game in ice time since the All-Star break, reaching at least 20 minutes in half those appearances, including his last three outings. He has managed 10 points in those 14 games, so there has been more production to go along with the additional ice time.

Though the sample is still small, Zetterlund’s new top line has averaged over 67 shot attempts per 60 at 5-on-5 in about 63 minutes together, creating 2.7 expected goals per 60. Those aren’t great offensive numbers, but they are good, especially for this Sharks roster. Tonight’s opponent is tied for 27th by expected goals against per 60 at 5-on-5 since the All-Star break, so there’s a good opportunity for Zetterlund to make use of all the extra ice time he has been getting.

Of all wingers priced under $5,000 on DK and FD, Zetterlund ranks third and fourth by fantasy point projections, respectively. There will be a lot of ownership on the top forwards in this game due to the matchups on both sides, but he warrants consideration in all formats.

Nils Höglander (VAN vs. WAS)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

In a season where Vancouver sits fifth by goals per game, it’s not any of their top stars leading the team in 5-on-5 goals — it’s Höglander, who owns 20 such tallies. Shooting 21.5% is a big reason why, but the good news for him is that he’s still on a line with Elias Pettersson. In the 200-plus minutes with that duo on the ice, the Canucks are scoring 4.9 goals per 60. Again, high shooting percentages are helping, but Pettersson also has the highest on-ice shooting percentage at 5-on-5 over the last two years of any forward in the league. That means the Canucks convert shots into goals with Pettersson on the ice at a higher rate than any attacker, so the fact he and Höglander are having a lot of offensive success isn’t a surprise.

Washington is in town, and though they’ve improved defensively since the All-Star break, they are still in the middle of the league by expected goals against per 60 at 5-on-5, so this isn’t a difficult matchup. Ice time for Höglander is inconsistent – as low as 12:12 and as high as 16:22 in his last five games – but he has an elite offensive center, and their combined prowess is paying off.

Despite Vancouver having the second-highest team total on the board tonight, there is not much ownership coming in on the Canucks, and Höglander’s ownership is at 2% or less on both sites individually. He can be used as a cheap one-off option or part of a Canucks stack in all formats.

NHL DFS Picks Today: Defender

Zach Werenski (CBJ vs. SJ)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

An injury to teammate Adam Boqvist has given Werenski the chance to run the team’s top power-play unit as the lone defenseman once again, and it immediately paid off in his first game back in that role with a power-play assist on Thursday. San Jose’s penalty kill was fine for the first half of the season, but at 4-on-5 since the All-Star break, the Sharks are bottom-10 by shots against per 60 and goals against per 60.

That injury to Boqvist has also led to more ice time for Werenski, who has been over 26 minutes in back-to-back games. That is good news for his peripheral production as the rearguard has 62 shots and 45 blocks in 20 games since returning from his own injury.

Werenski leads all defensemen by fantasy point projections tonight, and it’s not particularly close, as he exceeds the next-closest option by over 2 DK points and 2.3 FD points. Like many skaters in this game, there will be a lot of ownership on him, but his high value and fantasy point projections bring him into play in all formats.

Torey Krug (STL vs. MIN)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

St. Louis hosts Minnesota and the road team has been very good defensively at 5-on-5 for months now, but the Wild’s penalty kill remains an Achilles heel. Their 18 games since the All-Star break have seen Minnesota rank 27th by shots against per 60 while shorthanded, though good goaltending has kept their goals against per 60 to just 19th in the league. Minnesota has also taken minor penalties at an above-average rate while St. Louis is drawing power plays at an above-average rate, too.

This is a special team matchup Krug and the Blues can exploit. Since adding winger Jake Neighbours to the top power play, St. Louis has scored 11.1 goals per 60. To put that into context, the only team with a higher goal rate this season on the man advantage is Tampa Bay. Krug has five power-play points in 17 games since the All-Star break and gets a good chance to add to that tonight.

Among blue-liners priced under $5,000 on DK and $6,000 on FD, Krug ranks third and fourth, respectively, by fantasy point projections. His ownership is between 4-6% on the two sites, so he makes a highly projected, low-owned option for a mid-priced rearguard tonight.

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NHL DFS Picks Today: Goalie

Jordan Binnington (STL vs. MIN)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Binnington went on an absurd post-Christmas streak in his rookie season that eventually led to St. Louis winning a Stanley Cup. He is doing the same thing this season as he has posted a .928 save percentage in 22 starts since Christmas, allowing just 50 goals in that time, while facing 32.2 shots per 60 minutes. That is a lot of shot volume with not a lot of goals against, and it’s something that’s helped him be an excellent DFS goalie for most of the post-holiday stretch. He also catches a Minnesota team missing top center Joel Eriksson Ek tonight, so there is one less goal-scoring threat for Binnington to worry about.

The Stokastic GoalieStats section has Binnington fifth by projected saves among the 18 goalies tonight but outside the 10-highest expected goals against marks. That gap between saves and goals is great for DFS value, and at his cheap price, he makes a low-salary option to consider in all formats.

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NHL DFS Top Stacks Today

MTL1: Cole Caufield – Nick Suzuki – Juraj Slafkovský

This trio has found their offensive game after a lull around Christmas as their 217-plus minutes at 5-on-5 since the All-Star break has resulted in 3.3 expected goals per 60 and 3.6 actual goals per 60. In that time, Calgary is 18th by expected goals against per 60 and 27th by actual goals against per 60. Importantly, the Flames have also been very undisciplined by taking 4.2 minor penalties per game in that span, the third-highest rate in the league and the highest of the 18 teams on tonight’s slate. It should give this Montreal trio a lot of time with the man advantage, on top of a solid 5-on-5 matchup.

Of all lines priced under $18,000 on DK tonight, the Stokastic top stacks tool has this Montreal trio with the third-highest top-two stack probability. Of those top-three lines, they are the only one with lower projected ownership than that top-two probability, giving them good positive leverage. It makes them a tournament target tonight.


CAR3: Jordan Martinook – Jordan Staal – Seth Jarvis

There are a few very expensive lines on the board tonight so looking for cheap filler stacks may be necessary when making your NHL DFS picks. This Carolina line has been solid offensively this season by creating 2.6 expected goals per 60 and 2.7 actual goals per 60 at 5-on-5. Those aren’t high-end numbers, but they are above average, and they’re not priced as if they’re a high-end offensive line. The bonus for tonight is getting a Toronto team without two of their better defensive forwards. Jarvis remains on the top power play unit so there is a bit of special team upside for this cheap trio as well.

Cheap filler stacks don’t often come in with positive leverage, but that is the case for this Carolina trio, as ownership is projected at just 0.1% on DK tonight and 0.4% on FD. For NHL DFS players looking to pair a high-priced line with a cheap stack, this is one such stack to consider.

*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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