NHL DFS Picks Today: Sidney Crosby Season (December 6)

There are just four games in the NHL tonight but they feature a slew of superstars like Florida’s Matthew Tkachuk, Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov, Vegas’s Jack Eichel, and Edmonton’s Connor McDavid. Let’s look at some of those top options and then dig for a bit of value.  Prior to getting to our NHL DFS picks today, as always, Stokastic members should check the Discord before lock for lineup and injury information.

NHL DFS Picks Today, Top Stacks, Lineup Optimizer Plays

NHL DFS Picks Today: Center

Sidney Crosby (PIT at TB): DraftKings – $7,500 | FanDuel – $9,000

Crosby’s recent 10 games have been a bit of a slowdown for him, but even in that downturn he has five goals and 37 shots on net. In fact, he hasn’t had fewer than two shots on goal in any game for 14 consecutive games as he’s stayed involved offensively every night. That recent 10-game stretch has him leading the Penguins in shots per minute and skating an average of 20:28 per game. Even with uneven results from the team, he has been a stalwart for the Penguins.

Pittsburgh’s power play is putrid, but the key for Crosby has been his line’s consistent ability to generate offense at 5-on-5. Their last five games together have seen 3.3 expected goals and 4.3 actual goals created per 60 minutes, which are excellent offensive numbers. Conversely, Tampa Bay has been a mid-pack team by expected goals against at that strength over the last month, and shaky goaltending has made their actual results much worse. This is a fine matchup for Crosby and co.

On the two sites, Crosby ranks third by fantasy point projection tonight, though his relatively cheap price compared to the others makes him the best point-per-dollar value on DK, and second-best on FD. His correlation with at least one winger likely means he’s better served in tournament stacks than as a one-off option.

Sam Bennett (FLA vs. DAL): DraftKings – $4,200 | FanDuel – $4,500

Though not a great season thus far with three goals and one assist in 12 games (he was injured for about a month), Bennett is getting great deployment. He remains on the team’s second line which has generated 3.3 expected goals and nearly 36 shots per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. A poor conversion rate of 5.1% is keeping their goals low, but it’s a sign of positive regression to come, meaning a lot more goals in the future. Bennett is also on the team’s top power play unit, so he has fantastic deployment that gives him a lot of upside.

Over the last month, with Dallas’s top line on the bench, the team is giving up 33% more expected goals against. They are still very good defensively otherwise – they are a Stanley Cup contender – but it gives Bennett and his cohorts a better matchup than the top line. Dallas’s penalty kill has also been reliant on goaltending, boasting a .927 save percentage when short-handed; last season, no team finished over .900. There is regression coming there, and Bennett is in a position to feed off that tonight.

Bennett’s role and depressed pricing means he’s one of the top point-per-dollar values on the slate, regardless of position, and the top center on both DraftKings and FanDuel. That exceptional value will draw a lot of ownership, though, as he leads all centers by ownership projections.

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NHL DFS Picks Today: Winger

Zach Hyman (EDM vs. CAR): DraftKings – $6,400 | FanDuel – $8,800

For any issues Edmonton has, Hyman is not one of them as his 82-game paces thus far are 47 goals, 43 assists, 277 shots, and even throwing in 59 blocks for good measure. Before Edmonton’s bye week, Hyman had four goals and eight points in four games, totaling 23 shots on goal. Included in that stretch was a loss in Carolina where Hyman finished the game with two goals and five shots. Even when this team is struggling for wins, Hyman is succeeding offensively.

Facing Carolina is a double-edged sword matchup. The team is very good defensively, but the goaltending is an ongoing problem. Even as Pyotr Kochetkov has stabilized things in net, his last five starts have resulted in an .886 save percentage. Hyman may not generate a lot of shots tonight against this great defensive team, but Carolina’s goalies can’t stop a lot of shots, either. With Hyman skating next to Connor McDavid at all offensive strengths, he’ll be in a situation to succeed.

Among all wingers on DK, Hyman carries the sixth-highest fantasy projection, and it gives him a solid point-per-dollar value. His correlation with McDavid lends itself to playing them in a duo, but at Hyman’s reasonable price, he can be used as a one-off option.

For a better value on FD, consider Matthew Tkachuk (FLA, $7,000).

Mark Stone (VGK at STL): DraftKings – $5,400 | FanDuel – $6,000

Since losing Chandler Stephenson from his line, it has been a dramatic turnaround in Stone’s offensive performances: at 5-on-5 alone, his shot attempts per minute have skyrocketed by 72% and his point rate has nearly doubled. The move to the top line has produced two goals in his last four games, including a one-goal loss against this same St. Louis team a couple days ago. In fact, with Stone and Jack Eichel on the ice, the team is scoring roughly one goal every 12 minutes of 5-on-5 play.

That recent loss to St. Louis did highlight that this Blues team is not very good defensively. Since Halloween – a 17-game span – the Blues are 29th by shots allowed per minute at 5-on-5, 31st by expected goals against, and 23rd by actual goals against. Unless they’re (quite literally) saved by their goalies, this team can get buried defensively, and that gives Stone a great matchup tonight.

In general, Stone doesn’t shoot much and that usually leaves his fantasy projections lower than comparable wingers. He will carry a lot of ownership on FD because of his price, but Stokastic projections have his ownership around 10% on DK. There is better value on one site and lower ownership on the other.

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Michael Eyssimont (TB vs. PIT): DraftKings – $3,200 | FanDuel – $3,800

Tampa Bay has two forwards averaging at least 10 shots every 60 minutes at 5-on-5, one of them being Nikita Kucherov and the other being Eyssimont. He has gone five straight games without a goal, but Eyssimont has been getting more ice time by averaging 13:18 per night in that span. That is 1:45 in extra ice time per outing when compared to his first 20 games of the season, and it’s led to an average of 2.6 shots each night. He isn’t a high-percentage shooter, but he does get volume for his low ice time, and that’s important for DFS.

Since the injury to Rickard Rakell (and subsequent line changes), Pittsburgh’s depth has struggled tremendously – they’ve given up over 71 shot attempts and nearly 2.9 expected goals against per 60 minutes with their four remaining star forwards off the ice at 5-on-5, controlling just 37.2% of the expected goal share. That is the type of matchup that Eyssimont can dominate.

Eyssimont leads all wingers priced under $4,000 by Stokastic’s fantasy projections and that gives him tremendous value regardless of where he’s rostered. He can be used as a salary-saving one-off  on either DFS site tonight.

NHL DFS Picks Today: Defense

Brent Burns (CAR at EDM): DraftKings – $5,200 | FanDuel – $5,500

Burns has been enjoying a very productive stretch of late with three goals and five assists in his last 10 games, averaging 2.4 shots per contest. Carolina also catches an Edmonton team that has been on their bye week, having not played since November 30th. There is data showing teams have generally struggled with a return from bye weeks (though more recent data has been scant because of COVID interruptions), but even if the Oilers perform as normal, their goaltending has been awful, and is still just 25th by save percentage since hiring a new coach. This is lining up as a positive matchup for Burns tonight.

Stokastic’s ownership projections have Burns around 10% on either site for this slate, and that’s perfectly acceptable on a four-gamer. Adding him to Carolina stacks for tournaments, given how much the Hurricanes defensemen are involved offensively, makes sense, too.

Darnell Nurse (EDM vs. CAR): DraftKings – $4,400 | FanDuel – $5,900

There are just six players in the league averaging at least 2.25 shots and 2.1 blocks each game, and one of them is Nurse. Exactly half his games (11/22) have seen him land at least three shots, and he has managed the DraftKings block bonus on seven occasions. The team’s offensive struggles mirror Nurse’s, to an extent, but he’s still pacing for 15 goals and 34 points even with a downturn. There should be more production to come and that’ll help supplement his already-stellar peripherals. Under new coach Kris Knoblauch, Nuse has seen an additional 1:40 per game in ice time, and that helps his DFS floor whether through point or peripheral output.

On DK, Nurse has the best point-per-dollar value, though that should drive a lot of ownership his way. All the same, that cheap price in a matchup against weak goaltending makes him a target in any format.

Nurse’s FD value is much worse, so pivoting to Kris Letang (PIT, $5,100) can help DFS players digging for better value.

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NHL DFS Picks Today: Goalie

Jake Oettinger (DAL at FLA): DraftKings – $7,800 | FanDuel – $8,500

Since Florida got back defensemen Brandon Montour and Aaron Ekblad, the team is second in the league in shots generated per minute at 5-on-5, and third at all strengths. That same span has seen Dallas land in the middle of the league by shots against per minute, so this could be a matchup where Oettinger sees a lot of volume. As always, there is a chance of getting shelled, and that has happened to Oettinger on a few occasions. He has still posted at least 17 DK points in nearly half (8) his starts (17) and this Florida side has had trouble finishing their shots all season long.

Oettinger’s GoalieStats projection on Stokastic has him with the most expected safes tonight, but third-fewest goals. That balance makes him a great value at his price, especially on DK.

On FD, Andrei Vasilevskiy (TB, $7,300) leads goalies in point-per-dollar value tonight, so he can be targeted for a cheaper price (though he’ll carry a lot more ownership).

Top NHL DFS Stacks Today

FLA1: Evan Rodrigues – Aleksander Barkov – Sam Reinhart

This Florida trio has been dominant all season long, outshooting opponents 114-75 in their time together at 5-on-5, or roughly a 3:2 margin. They averaged one goal every 11.3 minutes of that time as a trio. The return of Brandon Montour to the top PP unit as seen that man advantage quintet more than double their goals per minute, and that’s a big boost for a team that had just nine power play goals in their first 16 games leading to Montour’s reinsertion into the lineup. Dallas is in town and that’s a tough matchup for most teams, but this is a four-game slate with several Stanley Cup contenders, so there are tough matchups everywhere.

Stokastic’s Top Stacks tool has this Florida line with positive leverage on both sites tonight – higher top-2 stack probability than ownership – while carrying single-digit ownership. For DFS players wanting to avoid chalk on this slate, this is a top line to target.

CAR1: Michael Bunting – Sebastian Aho – Seth Jarvis

Carolina’s current top line started the season together but was quickly broken up after a few poor performances. They were reunited four games ago, however, and their season’s totals are looking good: outshooting the opponent 39-27 in nearly 70 minutes together while scoring five times. They aren’t dominant, but they are generating a lot of shots, and against this poor Edmonton goaltending – as outlined in the section Burns – every shot matters. With two of the three players listed on the top PP unit, it’s a good power play matchup against an Oilers team giving up the second-most power plays per game.

This Carolina trio is carrying negative leverage, per the Top Stacks tool, on DK, so their depressed price is driving ownership their way. That ownership is still under 10%, though, so it’s not extreme. They are coming in basically even by leverage on FD, so they’re perfectly fine on that site.

Stokastic’s NHL Premium subscription is available in either weekly or monthly packages and includes NHL DFS projections, top stacks, expert Discord and more! Join today!

*Additional best NHL DFS picks today stats from Natural Stat Trick

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Michael Clifford
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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