NHL DFS Picks Today: Thursday Value (March 28)

It is a colossal 14-game slate in the NHL tonight with all of Auston Matthews, Nathan MacKinnon, and Connor McDavid on the board. Let’s look at some of those top options and then dig elsewhere for value. So, let’s get to our NHL DFS picks today.

As always, Stokastic members should double-check the Discord before lock for updated roster information.

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

NHL DFS Picks Today: Center

Sebastian Aho (CAR vs. DET)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Aho’s issue for DFS is usually a lack of shot volume; his 2.8 shots per game has him on pace for his fourth straight season under 3.0 shots per contest. However, he skated 25:15 in a game in Toronto two weeks ago, a season-high for him, and since (and including) that game, Aho has skated over 20 minutes in five of seven appearances while averaging 21:31 per night. That is in stark contrast to the 19:21 he averaged in his prior 20 outings. That 25-minute showing coincided with Jake Guentzel being moved to his wing so the impetus for the rise in ice time was Carolina loading its top line as they lean on their top players while chasing down a division title. That additional usage will help with his regular shot rates.

As expected, the Aho/Guentzel duo has been tremendous in their small sample: across 92 minutes at 5-on-5, the team averages 42.3 shots, 3.3 expected goals, and 4.8 actual goals per 60 minutes. It is also a great matchup for them as they host Detroit and the Red Wings sit 22nd by expected goals against per 60 minutes since the All-Star break, and 30th by goals against per 60 minutes.

The lack of shot rate for Aho is keeping his fantasy point projection lower than others in his price range, but he’s also projected at 1.1% ownership on DK and less than that on FD. That, and the great matchup, makes him and his line mates targets for tournaments.

Jared McCann (SEA vs. ANH)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Seattle overhauled their special team units for Tuesday’s game against Anaheim and it paid immediate dividends as McCann’s new power play quintet scored in their first opportunity. The second power play unit scored later in the game, and it was the first time the Kraken scored two power play goals in a game since late January. It wasn’t out-of-nowhere, either, as the Anaheim Ducks are the best power play matchup for opponents in the league: their last 20 games have seen them take the second-most minor penalties per game, rank last by shots allowed on the penalty kill, and last by goals allowed. The Ducks have given up a preposterous 32 power play goals against in 22 games since the All-Star break.  

McCann has also been skating with winger Jordan Eberle of late. That duo has been among the most productive for Seattle as their 400 minutes together at 5-on-5 have resulted in 34.9 shots, 2.5 expected goals, and 3.4 actual goals per 60 minutes. Our center has gone nine straight games without a goal, but he’s managed 27 shots in that span, so he’s still very involved in the offense. With a talented winger and a great power play matchup, McCann has a good opportunity to add to his goal total.  

Among centers priced under $6,500 tonight, McCann sits fifth by projected fantasy points with a solid point-per-dollar value proposition. Ownership isn’t much of a factor on a slate this large so he warrants consideration in tournaments given his tremendous matchup.

McCann is listed as a winger on FanDuel so DFS players on that site will want to consider Shane Pinto (OTT, $6,600) for a similarly-priced center option.


NHL DFS Picks Today: Winger

Kirill Kaprizov (MIN vs. SJ)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Minnesota likely gets center Joel Eriksson Ek back from injury tonight and that is great news for Kaprizov. Since their new coach took over in late November, Minnesota’s top line has averaged 38.5 shots, 3.6 expected goals, and 5.2 actual goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. It is a good night for Eriksson Ek to return as the Wild host the San Jose Sharks. The tough times continue for the Sharks as they lost 6-3 on Tuesday and remain last in the league by both expected goals against and actual goals against at 5-on-5 over their last 20 games. They are also giving up the fifth-most shots per 60 minutes when down a man, so the penalty kill is struggling, too.

High-end performances elsewhere in the league have overshadowed just how good Kaprizov has been for months, and especially since the All-Star break – that 22-game span has provided 17 goals, 17 assists, and 4.2 shots per appearance. Part of his upside is consistently high usage as he’s skated at least 20 minutes in eight straight games and 14 of his last 15. With the return of Minnesota’s top center and a tomato can in town, Kaprizov is in a very good spot to keep that production rolling.

Not only does Kaprizov lead fantasy point projections on both DK and FD for his position, but he also leads them at all positions. He may end up the highest-owned player on the slate because of the matchup, but with so many other options on the board, chalkiness isn’t a big problem and he should be considered in all formats.

Bryan Rust (PIT vs. CLS)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

In nine games since the trade deadline, when Pittsburgh sent Guentzel to Carolina, Rust has averaged 20:28 in ice time and 3.2 shots per game. His 20 prior appearances saw him average 19:15 per night with 2.9 shots per outing, so there has been a commensurate rise in shot rate to go with the additional minutes. His top line alongside Sidney Crosby has been just fine without Guentzel, too, by averaging 40 shots, 3.6 expected goals, and 3.0 actual goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. Rust has missed time this season due to injury, but his 82-game pace is for 37 goals and that’s a four-year high. Despite a down season for the Penguins as a whole, Rust has been very productive when he’s been in the lineup.

Our winger has an excellent matchup tonight, too. Columbus’s last 20 games has them neck-and-neck with San Jose for last in the league by expected goals against at 5-on-5 and good goaltending is the only reason they’re not lower than 26th in the league by actual goals against in that span. Rust skates with Crosby both at 5-on-5 and on the power play, and gets used at the end of games in empty-net situations offensively and defensively. All that gives him a very good chance to get on the scoresheet tonight.

Of all the wingers priced $7,000 or less on either site, Rust ranks third on DK and second on FD by fantasy point projections. Like Kaprizov, he is likely to carry double-digit ownership but again, on a slate this big it’s not a huge issue. He and his line mates are options for tournament stacks tonight.

Jake Neighbours (STL vs. CGY)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Neighbours has been one of the breakout players of this season with 25 goals in 72 games; he had seven goals in 52 career games before that. Part of the goal jump is shooting 18.5%, but he also leads Blues forwards by individual expected goals per 60 minutes this season, and is around the 84th percentile league-wide, so he’s taking a lot of quality shots. St. Louis is still chasing down a playoff spot, so they have been giving their top guys more ice time of late, Neighbours included – our winger has averaged 17:46 per game across his last 15 games compared to 15:37 per appearance in his first 29 games under new coach Drew Bannister.

The net-front flank has been skating on the top line with Robert Thomas and with that duo on the ice, the Blues generate 35.9 shots, 3.3 expected goals, and 3.0 actual goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5, all numbers higher than when they’re apart. Also, Neighbours has been a difference-maker on the top power play unit as they have scored a whopping 83.3% more goals per 60 minutes with Neighbours in his net-front role than without him. With St. Louis hosting a Calgary team that is taking the third-most minor penalties per game over the last six weeks, that is an important development.

Neighbours’s elevated price on FanDuel makes him a worse value than on DraftKings, but his point-per-$1,000 mark on the latter site is over 2.2, which is tremendous. He is viable on either site, but is absolutely more suited for DraftKings lineups. For a cheaper winger on FD, consider Drew O’Connor ($3,800) from Pittsburgh.

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NHL DFS Picks Today: Defender

Roman Josi (NSH at ARI)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Since the Christmas break, a span of 38 games, these are Josi’s 60-minute ranks among defensemen: 1st in goals, 2nd in assists, 1st in points, 3rd in shots, and 12th in ice time. He has been the most productive defenseman in the league for three months and he gets a good matchup for that to continue tonight as Nashville visits Arizona. Over the last six weeks, the Coyotes are 31st in the league by expected goals against per 60 minutes at all strengths and 26th by actual goals against. In three games this season against Arizona, Josi has two goals, four assists, and 11 shots on target.

Of all fantasy defensemen on the board tonight, Josi’s point projection ranks second on DK and third on FD. That makes him a fine relative value to others in his price range, and makes him an option for tournament lineups on this slate.

Braden Schneider (NYR at COL)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Injuries to three regular New York defenders have meant more minutes to the remaining top Rangers blue liners and that includes Schneider; his last eight games have seen him average 20:03 per outing compared to the 15:07 he earned in the 20 games prior. Those eight games have produced 19 blocked shots and he’s reached the DK block bonus in four of those eight appearances. Of the healthy Rangers rearguards, Schneider leads in blocks per 60 minutes this season at 6.1, which is over 2.0 every 20 minutes. Facing a Colorado team that leads the league in shots per 60 minutes over their last 20 games should give Schneider plenty of chances to rack up blocks with his increased usage.

Among defenders priced under $3,500 on DK and $4,000 on FD, Schneider ranks fifth by fantasy point projections on both sites. His point-per-$1,000 value is 2.0 or higher on both, so not only does he have a solid projection for his price, but good value as well. He is a salary-saving option on the blue line.

NHL DFS Picks Today: Goalie

Jordan Binnington (STL vs. CGY)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

A big reason why St. Louis is still anywhere near a playoff spot is Binnington’s play as he’s posted a .924 save percentage in 26 games since the Christmas break, and that save percentage leads the league. He has not given up more than four goals in any single game while facing the fifth-most 5-on-5 shots per 60 minutes through that stretch. The netminder reached the DK save bonus six times in those appearances after having done so just three times across his first 25 showings.

Making his life easier is St. Louis taking the third-fewest minor penalties per game over the team’s last 20 games. That provides Binnington with more shots at 5-on-5 and fewer on the penalty kill, and that’s a trade-off that favors DFS production.

The Stokastic GoalieStats section has Binnington with the fifth-highest projected save total tonight, but is outside the top-15 goalies for expected goals against. That saves-to-goals gap gives him good value for DFS and he’s a favourite at home, to boot. If the team decides to start Joel Hofer instead, he’s fine to use in Binnington’s place.

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NHL DFS Top Stacks Today

COL1: Jonathan Drouin – Nathan MacKinnon – Mikko Rantanen

Drouin was moved back to the top line recently and in over 400 minutes together this season, that trio has averaged 38.2 shots, 3.4 expected goals, and 4.0 actual goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. That is elite production but there are two other variables that make them particularly valuable for DFS: they all skate together on the top power play unit, and they often skate heavy minutes (their last game saw all three players skate between 22 and 26 minutes). Hosting the New York Rangers isn’t an easy matchup, but this line is about as matchup-proof as it gets given their elite offensive rates, high usage, and perfect power play correlation.

On both DraftKings and FanDuel, the Stokastic Top Tools stack has this Colorado trio as one of two lines (along with Minnesota1) to have a top-2 stack over 15%. They are carrying a higher relative price on FD than DK, but that is also driving their ownership down on that site. Either way, they are a high-priced stack to consider for tournaments.

CHI1: Ryan Donato – Connor Bedard – Phillip Kurashev

The duo of Bedard and Donato have combined for nearly 205 minutes at 5-on-5 this season, and that has resulted in 28.9 shots, 2.6 expected goals, and 3.4 actual goals per 60 minutes. Those aren’t elite rates, but they are all much higher than when Bedard does not have Donato on his left wing. The Blackhawks are on the road tonight, but face the Ottawa Senators, a team that has been below average defensively at 5-on-5 over the last six weeks, have given up the third-most goals against per 60 minutes on the penalty kill, and are playing their second game in as many nights. Chicago also has a road team total similar to Los Angeles, Vegas, and Detroit so it’s not as if they aren’t expected to score tonight.

Of all DraftKings lines priced under $16,000 tonight, this Chicago trio is ranked 8th by top-2 stack probability. However, five of the seven lines ahead of them are carrying more negative leverage. The expected ownership on FD is higher where they are relatively cheaper, but they are a mid-priced stack to consider regardless of site.  

*Additional stats used for our NHL DFS picks today column 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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