NHL DFS Picks Today: Saturday Value (March 2)

There are eight games on the NHL docket tonight but there is still a plethora of stars like Auston Matthews, Artemi Panarin, and Noah Dobson. Let’s navigate some of the elite options and then dig for good matchups and value.

As always, Stokastic members are encouraged to double-check the Discord before lock for roster updates.

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NHL DFS Picks Today: Lineup Decisions and More

NHL DFS Picks: Center

Nazem Kadri (CGY vs. PIT)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Going back to the Christmas break – a 25-game span – Kadri had registered 13 goals, 14 assists, and 80 shots on target as he’s been carrying a big chunk of the offense for Calgary. With his team trading key players ahead of the Trade Deadline, he has been leaned on more by averaging 19:04 per game across his last seven appearances, reaching at least 19 minutes in five of those seven outings. He is also second on the team in shots/60 minutes with the power play this season, and the Flames have drawn the most minor penalties per game over the last eight weeks of any team on tonight’s slate.

Pittsburgh visits Calgary and they’ve been on a defensive slide for a while now. Going back two months, the Penguins are 23rd in the league by expected goals against/60 at 5-on-5, just ahead of the Lottery-bound Columbus Blue Jackets. Kadri’s line maintained their solid offensive play in February with 2.7 expected goals/60 and 3.0 actual goals/60, so the offense they’ve been providing since November 1st has persisted for four months now.

By fantasy point projections for centers under $7,000 on DK and $8,000 on FD, Kadri ranks third and fifth, respectively. On DK in particular, he has the third-highest point-per-dollar value of any center priced $5,000 or higher, which means he has a solid projection and value proposition for his price. He can be used as a one-off option or part of a Calgary stack in tournaments.

Wyatt Johnston (DAL vs. SJ)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

It has been just four games and fewer than 50 minutes together at 5-on-5, but the young duo of Johnston and rookie Logan Stankoven have been very impressive together by helping Dallas outshoot the opposition 35-19 in that time, scoring four goals. Johnston had four points and 12 shots in those games, and it isn’t as if the schedule was soft: in Carolina, hosting the New York Islanders, in Colorado, and at home to Winnipeg. Those teams stand in stark contrast to the opposition tonight as San Jose is a distant last by expected goals against/60 at 5-on-5 over the last eight weeks and are one of four teams to allow at least 3.0 goals against/60. This is a matchup that Johnston can control.

Johnston is also a player that is leaned on by the team. Since the All-Star break, he earns the most 5-on-5 ice time per game of any forward not on the top line, and trails only superstar Jason Roberton in overall ice time per outing. That has led to Johnston posting 3.1 shots per game compared to the 2.2 shots per game he averaged before the All-Star break. More minutes and a more productive line have been very helpful for his DFS upside.

This center carries a very good points-per-$1,000 for both DK (2.09) and FD (2.05) so he is acceptable to use in any format. Though he is projected for double-digit ownership on DK, he is under 4% on FD, which is important for tournaments, but he’s fine to use in any format on any site tonight.

NHL DFS Picks: Winger

Nikita Kucherov (TB vs. MON)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

With so many high-end players taking off after the Christmas break – Nathan MacKinnon, Matthews, and Matthew Tkachuk, to name a few – Kucherov has stayed in the MVP conversation with 10 goals and 27 assists in his last 20 games while averaging 3.7 shots per contest. He leads the league with 42 power play points this season and his prowess with the man advantage is key for tonight; the Montreal Canadiens are taking 4.0 minor penalties per game over the last eight weeks, the most of any team on tonight’s slate. That has led to 18 power play goals against in their previous 21 contests, and that’s a great power play matchup for Kucherov.

On top of the undisciplined play, Montreal has been a poor defensive team at 5-on-5, ranking 29th by expected goals against/60 at 5-on-5 in that same two-month span, coming in at 25th by actual goals against. Kucherov’s top line has averaged 3.4 expected goals-for/60 and 4.3 actual goals-for/60 in over 300 minutes this season, so this is a good spot at all offensive strengths for the superstar flank.

By fantasy point projections tonight, Kucherov and David Pastrňák are way out in front of the rest of the position, but Kucherov holds the edge on both sites (more so on FD than DK). Kucherov will be much higher owned, so tournament players have a decision to make, but he also has the better matchup.

Owen Tippett (PHI vs. OTT)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Philadelphia played last night, as did Ottawa, so the rest advantage will tip slightly to the home team. Either way, Philadelphia hosts a team whose defense has been improving at 5-on-5 but is still not in the top half of the league, ranking 20th by expected goals against/60. Poor defensive play and poor goaltending have led to very poor defensive results as they rank 31st by goals against/60 at 5-on-5 across the last eight weeks. Tippett, meanwhile, has 10 goals and 95 shots in his last 20 games, averaging 4.8 shots per contest. He has reached the DK shot bonus in half (10) those games and has 21 such bonuses in 57 appearances this season.

We won’t know Philadelphia’s lineup until warmups because they played last night, but Tippett was moved to Sean Couturier’s line during last night’s loss. That duo, even with star winger Travis Konecny injured, has helped the Flyers create 3.0 expected goals/60 and 3.1 actual goals/60 at 5-on-5. Ottawa may have a key injury of their own – Brady Tkachuk left his team’s loss late in the third period and did not return – so Tippett may both have an improved line mate and better matchup.

Fantasy point projections have Tippett third on DK and fifth on FD for his position. That is despite being priced ninth among healthy DK wingers and outside the top-10 on FD. It is good relative value which, combined with ownership levels outside the top-5 wingers on both sites, makes for a good DFS option.

Yegor Chinakhov (CLS at CHI)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Chinakhov played just nine minutes in Columbus’s recent loss after being benched due to a turnover. Considering this team is the only franchise in the East with 40 losses, it felt a little odd, but I digress. His second line had largely been playing well in calendar 2024, especially on this roster, by creating 3.3 expected goals/60 at 5-on-5 over Columbus’s last 20 games while controlling over 60% of the expected goal share. Across Chinakhov’s 10 games before that benching, he had 29 shots on target and that was with just 15:25 in ice time per outing. He leads the team in 5-on-5 goals/60, points/60, and shot attempts/60, so he doesn’t need a lot of ice time to produce.

The matchup against Chicago is the big appeal here. Chinakhov will avoid Chicago’s excellent shutdown line, and with that line off the ice at 5-on-5 in calendar 2024, the team allows 45% more expected goals against/60 and the actual goals against rate doubles. It is night-and-day with that shutdown line on/off the ice, and Chinakhov will largely avoid that matchup, putting him in a position to succeed offensively.

We have to make sure Chinakhov is playing on a good line – we will find out at morning skate – but his ownership rates tonight are under 1% on both sites. This is a great matchup for him to regain the coach’s confidence and he’s been a good producer regardless. He is a one-off option on both sites.

NHL DFS Picks: Defender

Rasmus Dahlin (BUF vs. VGK)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Though Dahlin’s point production has declined from a season ago, it’s all related to assists. He has 15 goals in 59 games, already tying his career-high from last year in 19 fewer games played. What makes him particularly valuable in DFS is peripheral production as he has averaged just over 3.0 shots and 2.0 blocks per game. Dahlin is the only blue liner in the league to reach both those marks, and it has led to 13 DK shot bonuses and 18 DK block bonuses, reaching both in the same game four times.

Vegas is missing key forwards and their expected goals against/60 at 5-on-5 over the last two months is 27th in the league, ranking 20th by goals against/60. Dahlin has averaged 29:05 per game since the All-Star break, so there are a lot of minutes here to rack up peripherals, and a good matchup to get on the scoresheet proper.

Dahlin has a hefty price tag and he’s not the highest-projected defenseman on either site. That is good news for tournament players, though, as his ownership projects under 5% on DK and 7% on FD. He is a tournament option for this slate.  

Adam Pelech (NYI vs. BOS)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

The Islanders are starting to lean on Pelech more as he has skated at least 20 minutes in six of his last seven appearances, averaging 21:29 per game. That is over two additional minutes from his 10 prior outings, so there has been a clear upward trend. He has four points, 10 shots, and 16 blocks in those seven games, so the fantasy production has increased along with the ice time.

On the season, Pelech has averaged nearly 2.0 blocks per 21.5 minutes of ice time, which is what he has averaged over that recent seven-game stretch. It makes him a threat for the DK block bonus, and the added ice time is a big part of that.

Pelech’s points-per-$1,000 mark on DK is over 2.0 tonight, which is good value. It is lower on FD where peripherals matter less, but at his cheap price and ice time levels, the salary isn’t a roadblock. He can be used as a cheap blue liner tonight but is better served on DK rosters.

NHL DFS Picks: Goalie

Petr Mrazek (CHI vs. CLS)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

On the season, Mrazek is facing the most shots against/60 minutes at 5-on-5 of any starting goalie outside of San Jose. He has faced 32.4 shots against per start this season, and that has led to a DraftKings save bonus in over one-quarter of his starts (11/40). Since the All-Star break, Columbus has been a top-10 team by shot attempts/60 and shots/60 at 5-on-5, so Mrazek could face a good amount of volume tonight and, unlike most nights, he has a decent chance at a win considering the opponent.

Of all DK netminders under $7,600 tonight, Mrazek carries the second-highest fantasy point projection. The GoalieStats section here at Stokastic also has him fourth for projected saves so he’s an option for tournaments DFS players looking to save some salary in goal. That doubles for FD where the cheaper price has him ties for fourth among starting goalies by point-per-dollar value.

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NHL DFS Top Stacks Today

NYR1: Chris Kreider – Mika Zibanejad – Kaapo Kakko

The issue with this Rangers line in its entire history together is turning their dominance into goals. In nearly 195 minutes together this season, they are controlling 58.5% of the expected goal share but have scored just 1.5 goals/60 minutes at 5-on-5. That is due to shooting 6%, a number that is 11.4% with any winger but Kakko. It is an issue.

The good news is they go into Toronto tonight and are likely to miss the Matthews matchup, easily the toughest matchup on the Maple Leafs’ side; in calendar 2024, expected goals against at 5-on-5 is up 30.6% with that line off the ice, and goals against more than double. It is a good matchup, regardless of NYR1’s struggles scoring this season.  

Stokastic’s Top Stacks tool has both Rangers top lines with very low ownership, but this trio is $3,600 cheaper on DK and $3,100 cheaper on FD with good positive leverage. They should be considered among the mid-priced stacks for this slate.

DAL3: Jamie Benn – Wyatt Johnston – Logan Stankoven

As mentioned in the section on Johnston, this has been a good line in a small sample, and this is a tremendous matchup. On top of that, when a top team like Dallas is facing a Lottery team like San Jose at this time of year, ice time for top guys can get throttled back. For example, in a win in Montreal a few weeks ago, no Stars forward had more than 11:40 of even strength ice time, but at 8/12 attackers had at least 10 minutes. Those types of games can lead to the middle of the roster, like DAL3, getting more ice time than usual. This line is also playing so well without Evgenii Dadonov on the right side – expected goals-for/60 is 50% higher and actual goals-for/60 is 54% higher – that they may play themselves into more ice time anyway.

At the other end of the leverage spectrum is DAL3, which could be one of the most over-leveraged lines on the night. However, they have the highest top-2 stack probability of any line priced under $13,000 on DK by a wide margin, so in this excellent matchup, they still require attention.

FanDuel still hasn’t added Stankoven to the player pool so DFS players should really go yell at them to get their act in gear. For a filler stack, pivoting to Dallas’s second line of Matt Duchene-Mason Marchment-Ty Dellandrea is an option.

*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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