NHL DFS Picks Today: Slate Is Low on Stars, High on Value (December 4)

There are six games in the NHL tonight, and the majority of the league’s superstars are not making an appearance. It opens the slate up a bit, so let’s look at some top NHL DFS options that are here and then look for some value elsewhere.

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NHL DFS Picks Today, Top Stacks, Lineup Optimizer Plays

NHL DFS Picks Today: Center

Jack Eichel (VGK vs. STL): DraftKings – $8,200 | FanDuel – $9,400

It was a good week for Eichel last week with two goals and five assists with 11 shots in three games. A big reason for that was having Mark Stone next to him at five-on-five. In nearly 340 minutes together over the last two seasons, that duo helps Vegas create 3.3 expected goals, 39.7 shots and 4.9 actual goals per 60 minutes. Those are monster offensive marks and show the upside their line, Eichel included, has on any given night.

St. Louis visiting Vegas gives Eichel a good matchup at that strength too. The Blues are 28th in the league by expected goals against per 60 at five-on-five since Halloween, 29th by shots against and 28th by goals against. St. Louis is the least-penalized team in the league, but Eichel has gotten 70% of his points away from the power play.

Though he’s the most expensive center on the board tonight, Eichel exceeds the next-closest center by 16% on DraftKings and over 13% on FanDuel by Stokastic’s NHL DFS projections. Even at a high price, it gives him good point-per-dollar value so he can be used as a one-off option, though stacking in tournaments is likely the better approach.

Connor McMichael (WSH at ARI): DraftKings – $3,800 | FanDuel – $4,300

Looking back again since Halloween, the only Washington forward taking more shot attempts per minute at five-on-five than McMichael is Alex Ovechkin. That span has seen this center land two shots per game despite averaging under 15 minutes a night, even hitting the DraftKings shot bonus once. He has been so good for Washington that he was even moved up to the top line with Ovechkin for the third period of the team’s loss on Saturday. McMichael gets secondary power play time with Ovechkin (the winger plays both halves of the power play), so there is correlation there if the Capitals decide to stick with that combination.

One issue for McMichael when facing Arizona is the home team got defenseman Juuso Valimaki back from injury last week ,and he’s the team’s best defensive defenseman. The Caps seem reluctant to use him against top competition, so it could mean easier matchups for McMichael during the game itself.

Ownership is important on any slate, but with just six games, it is magnified. That is what makes McMichael’s 1.1% DraftKings ownership projection stand out, a number that is even lower on FanDuel. At a reasonable price and with a lack of super-elite options as compared to most slates, it makes McMichael appealing as a cheap one-off option.

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NHL DFS Picks Today: Winger

Travis Konecny (PHI vs. PIT): DraftKings – $6,200 | FanDuel – $6,700

Though he has just one goal in his last six games, it isn’t as if Konecny has been invisible. He took nearly 19 shot attempts per 60 minutes in those games – easily a first-line rate – while averaging 20:45 per night in ice time. Cold streaks are worrisome when shots and ice time disappear, which has not been the case here. Even with that slide, he’s still pacing for over 40 goals and 240 shots this season, which would be a tremendous offensive effort.

These two teams faced off on Saturday, a 4-3 shootout win for the Flyers, and Konecny was on the ice for two Philadelphia goals, registering a point on neither. It shows the thin margins for fantasy production, even when a player is playing well. His top line duo with Sean Couturier has been playing very well too, creating 3.0 expected goals and 38.7 shots per 60 minutes at five-on-five. A low shooting percentage is keeping their goals close to league average, but their underlying process is excellent and shows us there is more upside to come for Konecny and co.

Our winger is second among Flyers forwards in shot attempts per minute this season, but the team’s lack of power play scoring will constantly leave his projection depressed. However, this is a player that has often been priced much higher than where he is right now, and that lowered price combined with high ice time totals brings him into consideration.

Jared McCann (SEA at MTL): DraftKings – $5,200 | FanDuel – $5,900

Though not quite on the 41-goal pace he had a year ago, McCann is still pacing for 36 goals and over 240 shots, so a pretty good campaign, nonetheless. His strong play is getting rewarded by the coaching staff as his ice time has been increasing for five straight games, topping 19 minutes in each of his last two contests. Those five games have seen him post three goals, two assists and 18 shots, so he’s been very involved offensively.

Seattle doesn’t have a good power play and splits its power play units’ ice time, so despite this being a good power play matchup, there is no significant advantage over one forward or another. It is an excellent five-on-five matchup, though, as Montreal is tied for last by expected goals against per 60 minutes over the last four weeks. Good goaltending has saved it at times, but it gives McCann’s line a matchup that it should be able to control.

Among all wingers priced under $6,000 on either site, McCann leads Stokastic’s NHL DFS projections for this slate. He will carry high ownership because of that solid value, which is a function of a tremendous matchup against Montreal. All the same, it brings him into range as a one-off in any format.

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Mason Marchment (DAL at TB): DraftKings – $3,900 | FanDuel – $4,600

Fortunes can change quickly in the NHL, and they have for Marchment. Last season, he had a 32-game goalless streak that spanned nearly three months. This season, he’s on pace for 26 goals and 30 assists despite managing just 1 power play point thus far. His line with Matt Duchene and Tyler Seguin has easily been Dallas’ best at five-on-five, creating the most goals and expected goals per 60 by a wide, wide margin. They are scoring more frequently than the top lines from Colorado, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, to put it into context.

Goaltending is an ongoing problem for Tampa Bay. Backup Jonas Johansson had been struggling for weeks waiting for injured starter Andrei Vasilevskiy to return from back surgery. That return has not gone well, as Vasilevskiy has allowed 14 goals in four games, posting an .859 save percentage and giving up six goals to this very Dallas team over the weekend. Until its goalies show consistent improvement, it can be picked on in DFS.

Regardless of where he’s rostered, Marchment is carrying single-digit ownership projections tonight and even falling under 5% on DraftKings. He is likely best used in a stack with his linemates given how well they’re playing together, but he’s by far the cheapest of the three, so he can be used as a salary-saving one-off option.

NHL DFS Picks Today: Defense

Kris Letang (PIT at PHI): DraftKings – $5,100 | FanDuel – $5,100

Pittsburgh has added Letang back to its top power play unit, which feels like a long time coming. Pittsburgh’s power play is 30th by conversion percentage this season and changes were needed. Since the start of last season, Pittsburgh’s top power play unit scores 53% more often with Letang (in a 209-minute sample) than without (in a 173-minute sample). It isn’t a great power play matchup against a good Philadelphia penalty kill, but it is a notable improvement. Besides that, Letang has three DraftKings block bonuses and one DraftKings shot bonus in the last two weeks and is pacing for 46 points this season with no power play production to date. There is across-the-board upside here if things go well for him.

Among defenders priced under $6,000 on either DraftKings or FanDuel, Letang is second by NHL DFS projections, trailing only Dallas’ Miro Heiskanen. It gives him solid point-per-dollar value regardless of where he’s rostered, and heavy minutes with an improved power play role brings him into focus for DFS players.

Thomas Harley (DAL at TB): DraftKings – $3,500 | FanDuel – $4,600

Good linemates are very important to DFS success, and that goes for defensemen too. In over 163 minutes at five-on-five away from Jani Hakanpaa as a defense partner, Dallas is creating 30% more shot attempts and 78% more expected goals with Harley on the ice. The result for Harley is his points-per-minute more than doubling without Hakanpaa next to him, and he has 3 points in his last two games. He even managed 2 points against Tampa Bay on Saturday. Ice time is a concern – he is often in the 17- to 19-minute range – but there is good upside for this offensive blue liner even at that ice time level.

Harley’s price has come up compared to his last few games, but that’s also keeping his ownership projection extremely low, falling under 1% on both DraftKings and FanDuel tonight. His ice time levels will keep his outlook muted, but the next-to-nothing ownership and improved defense partner requires some consideration for DFS lineups.

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NHL DFS Picks Today: Goalie

Jordan Binnington (STL at VGK): DraftKings – $7,000 | FanDuel – $7,700

Of the 34 goalies with at least 600 minutes played this season, Binnington is one of seven goalies facing 33 shots every 60 minutes and one of six saving at least 30 every 60 minutes. That level of shot volume has helped Binnington to some big DFS performances on DraftKings this season, managing at least 20 DraftKings points in over half (8) his starts (15). That level of shot volume also means he can be blown up, as he’s finished with fewer than 1.0 DraftKings points three times, but there is big tournament upside here when he’s not shelled.

The GoalieStats section in Stokastic’s projections have Binnington with the second-most expected saves tonight, but also the second-most expected goals against. That shows what kind of upside, and downside, this goalie has tonight. At a cheap price, he should at least be considered as a low-cost goalie for tournaments.

Top NHL DFS Stacks Today

WPG1: Kyle Connor – Mark Scheifele – Nikolaj Ehlers

Over the last two seasons, Connor and Ehlers have skated nearly 200 minutes together at five-on-five. In that time, they are generating nearly 75 shot attempts and 3.9 expected goals every 60 minutes. Those are monster offensive numbers, and their most recent game saw two of the three players on this line exceed 21 minutes, with Ehlers a shade under 20. That is a lot of ice time, and though Carolina is a tough matchup defensively, its goaltending remains horrific, with an .872 save percentage over its last 12 games.

Stokastic’s Top Stacks Tool has this Winnipeg trio with positive leverage on both sites tonight, meaning a higher top-2 stack probability than ownership level. It makes them a target for tournaments to avoid the chalkier top lines like Vegas, Philadelphia or Seattle.

ARI2: Lawson Crouse – Nick Bjugstad – Mattias Maccelli

This line has been very successful this year, and it’s why all three players on this line are seeing season-high prices on DraftKings. They are getting more ice time too, as Crouse and Bjugstad have between 17:15 and 18:30 in ice time per game, on average, over the last three weeks. Arizona’s second line is creating 3.8 expected goals and 3.3 actual goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five this season and is earning about 40% of the power play time over the last few weeks. It is one of the depth lines keeping this team afloat in the playoff race and has nine combined goals over the team’s last nine games.

Though this line is projected for negative leverage, per Stokastic’s Top Stacks Tool, most filler lines are because of the way lineups are made, and it is between 3% and 4% top-2 stack probability on both sites, with ownership around 5% to 6%. It can be used as a filler stack to pair with more expensive lines elsewhere on the slate.

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

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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