NHL DFS Picks Today: John Tavares Moving Up With Auston Matthews Out (January 27)

There are eight games to dig through for this NHL DFS slate, and the options to pick from have slimmed down, as Auston Matthews had an injury announcement and will not be playing. With high-end offensive teams like Colorado, Edmonton, Boston, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay not on the slate, the Matthews injury blows this slate wide open. Let’s dig through some obvious options, and some less obvious ones, and see what is viable tonight. As always, Stokastic subscribers should double-check the members-only Discord for lineup/injury updates.

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NHL DFS Picks, Top Stacks, Lineup Optimizer Plays


John Tavares (TOR vs. OTT): DraftKings – $6,800 | FanDuel – $8,600

At the outset of today, having to decide on what to do with Toronto seemed a difficult choice. However, the team announced an injury to superstar center Auston Matthews and that’ll keep him out of the lineup for the time being. This has pushed John Tavares to the top line, and it almost certainly means a big jump in ice time as well.

Tavares had really been on a production tear of late, posting five goals and 13 points in his last 10 games, managing a whopping 51 shots in those contests. He had been skating with Mitch Marner for most of that time and Tavares gets that winger back tonight. In a small 60-minute sample with Michael Bunting dating back to last year, this line generates 3.9 expected goals and 3.8 actual goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five, and that is great offensive production.

The real issue for Tavares tonight is two-fold: Matthews’ impact (or lack thereof) on the power play and ownership. There is sure to be a lot of ownership on Tavares now, given his impending increase in ice time, but a reasonable price and a very good line makes him an appealing choice. He can be used as a one-off or part of a stack, just keep that high ownership in mind when making lineups.

Filip Chytil (NYR vs. VGK): DraftKings – $4,400 | FanDuel – $5,700

There is a lot of consternation about New York’s young players, but Filip Chytil has 15 goals in 40 games, pacing for over 30 goals in a full season. One reason is he’s shooting over 17% but he has started shooting a lot more of late: he has averaged 2.7 shots per game in his last 20 games compared to just 1.7 over his first 20 games. Being able to maintain his more recent shot volume levels will go a long way to him being viable in DFS beyond just a longshot hopeful.

Very quietly, the Rangers Kid Line, including Chytil, has been excellent for them over the last several weeks, posting 3.3 expected goals and 5.1 actual goals per 60 minutes going back to December. They’ve been assembled and disassembled at times, but they have been successful when together for a while now. They also catch the bottom 6 of a Vegas team that is going through injuries which have depleted the forward group.

On DraftKings, Chytil is the fourth-highest projected center priced under $5,000 and that gives him solid value. That value is less pronounced on FanDuel where he’s much more expensive, so he’s not as high a priority play there. Anton Lundell (FLA, $4,900) makes more sense in that price range on FanDuel.

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Patrik Laine (CBJ at VAN): DraftKings – $7,200 | FanDuel – $8,100

It is a bad season for Columbus but Patrik Laine has been very productive with 14 goals and 123 shots in 33 games, pacing for 35 goals and over 300 shots in a full season. Those goals are also with a career-low shooting percentage which, if it can regress positively, would give him a lot more scoring upside. In his 33 contests, Laine has hit the DraftKings shot bonus on 12 occasions, or over 35% of his outings.

Tonight’s opponent is Vancouver and they’re going through their own turmoil with a new coach and uncertain future for some of their stars. The Canucks are 24th in the league by expected goals against per minute at five-on-five over their last 20 games and 29th by actual goals against. They are taking fewer penalties but still unable to kill the ones they do take, ranking 26th by shots against and 30th by goals against per minute in that span.

Early NHL DFS ownership projections have Laine in the single digits and that’s just fine for a slate of this size. His shooting and goal-scoring prowess can break any slate wide open, and he should be considered as a one-off in any tournament format. His line is also viable for tournaments as well.

Anton Lundell (FLA vs. LA): DraftKings – $4,400 | FanDuel – $4,900

When discussing resurgences, it’d be negligent not to mention Anton Lundell. He was really struggling to start the year, with just 15 points through his first 35 games. The team lost talent all over the place through the summer; he wasn’t playing with All-Star winger Matthew Tkachuk, and Lundell just couldn’t pick up the slack. Lately, however, he has been skating on the top line with Aleksander Barkov and that has Lundell with seven points in nine games, averaging 3.6 shots per game and 17 minutes per contest. His move to skate with better line mates has paid dividends immediately.

Stokastic NHL DFS projections have Lundell with the second-highest projection for any winger priced under $5,000 and that gives him good value tonight. The issue is ownership, as Florida is sure to draw a lot, specifically the top line due to their reasonable pricing. Even though he’s not on the top power play unit, adding Lundell to Florida stacks that have their power play guys is a reasonable way to dilute ownership across even-strength lines.

As mentioned earlier, Lundell is listed as a center on FanDuel and is perfectly fine to use on that site at his price. For FanDuel users needing a winger at a similar price, consider Kyle Palmieri (NYI, $4,900) who is skating on his team’s second line and top power play unit.

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Ryan Donato (SEA vs. CGY): DraftKings – $2,700 | FanDuel – $5,000

This will depend a lot on the health of Matty Beniers and what the team decides to do with its lines. Beniers left the team’s last game due to injury and did not return. In that game, Ryan Donato was skating on the Jared McCann line which is important to note because all three skate on the same power play unit. If Beniers is injured, perhaps that power play unit starts to see more ice time, though it’s not a certainty. Regardless, Donato skated 14:45 in that game, his third-highest mark in his last 15 outings (and his second highest was the game before).

The duo of Donato/McCann has been very good for Seattle, controlling 62% of the shot attempts and expected goals when they’re on the ice at five-on-five. Even with meager ice time, Donato is on pace for 25 goals and over 40 points in a full season, and that’s very good production for low levels of ice time. That he’s getting more ice time of late should only help in this regard.

Seattle gets a Calgary team that is playing its second game in as many nights and got shelled by Chicago on Thursday. Donato is not expected to have much ownership – low single digits on both sites – so he’s perfectly fine to use as a salary-saving one-off option.


Miro Heiskanen (DAL vs. NJ): DraftKings – $5,500 | FanDuel – $7,100

In all honesty, the expensive defense options are not great tonight. On DraftKings, specifically, the three most expensive options are all on the road, one of them is on the second night of a back-to-back, and the most expensive – Erik Karlsson – is facing one of the top defensive teams in Carolina. It is leaving little value at the top of the board, instead leading down in price to Miro Heiskanen.

The issue with Heiskanen in DFS is that his peripherals aren’t strong. He has just three DraftKings shot bonuses on the season. For reference, Gustav Forsling (FLA, $5,200) has five such bonuses without top power play minutes and skates less per game. However, all the ice time Heiskanen earns provides a reasonable floor as he’s hit double-digit DraftKings points in seven of his last 10 games and 26 of his 47 contests overall. Forsling, meanwhile, has 25 in 50 games. Ice time matters and that, along with a dearth of attractive options ahead of him, brings Heiskanen into play at a lower price.

On FanDuel, Drew Doughty (LA, $5,900) projects better than Heiskanen at a much lower price, so he makes sense on that site.

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Samuel Bolduc (NYI vs. DET): DraftKings – $2,500

Noah Dobson is expected to miss another game for the Islanders and in their last game, callup Samuel Bolduc was running the team’s top power play unit. It led to him skating just over 18 minutes overall and that, with his power play role, makes him a very appealing option as his price.

In the AHL this season, Bolduc is 10th in scoring among blue liners and is landing just shy of 2.5 shots per game. He has shown offensive upside in the minors and now he’s getting a chance to show his talents in the big leagues.

The Islanders are hosting the Red Wings tonight and Detroit played an overtime game last night. The visiting team doesn’t take a lot of penalties – below league average per game – but their last 20 games have seen them give up the sixth-most shots and fourth-most goals per minute when down a man. It is not a bad spot for a struggling Islanders power play and Bolduc’s top power play slotting, at his price, makes him a salary-saving blue line option tonight.

Bolduc is not in the FanDuel player pool so for a cheap blue-line option on that site, consider Dylan Coghlan (CAR, $3,700) as he leads NHL DFS projections for FanDuel defensemen priced under $4,000 by a wide margin.


Igor Shesterkin (NYR vs. VGK): DraftKings – $7,600 | FanDuel – $8,300

Igor Shesterkin has looked much more himself of late, posting a .922 save percentage in his last 19 starts dating back to Dec. 1. He has not allowed more than four goals in any of those 19 starts and has allowed one or fewer in nearly a third of those contests (6 of 19). As alluded to earlier in this article, Vegas’ offense is worse without Stone in the lineup and that is good news for Shesterkin and the Rangers.

NHL DFS projections for DraftKings have Shesterkin fourth among all netminders but his reasonable price makes him a very good value for that projection. That likely pushes his ownership into double digits but that doesn’t make him a bad option in goal. The value he can bring is useful to being able to upgrade at other spots and he’s still an upper-tier goaltender. He can be used in all formats tonight.

For a cheaper option in goal on FanDuel, consider Jake Oettinger (DAL, $7,800), who ranks second by Stokastic NHL DFS projections for netminders tonight.

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Top NHL DFS Stacks Today

LA1: Kopitar-Kempe-Byfield

On the other side of the Florida game referenced earlier is a Los Angeles team that is 12-6-2 in their last 20 games. Of late, the top line has seen a boost from the addition of Quinton Byfield as this trio is now generating 2.8 expected goals and 3.6 actual goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five, controlling nearly 58% of the expected goal share. They are playing extremely well and two of the three players on this line are also on the top power play unit. Florida is the most penalized team in the league and their last 20 games have seen the PK give up the second-most goals per minute.

This is a three-man forward group that is playing very well and most of them get a great spot for power play production. Stokastic’s Top Stacks Tool has them with positive leverage on DraftKings and slightly negative on FanDuel, which means they’re fine to use on both sites today, especially considering their reasonable pricing.

NYI2: Lee-Nelson-Palmieri

There are a few reasons to target this Islanders line today.

First, two of the three players are also on the top power play unit. As mentioned in the section on Bolduc, Detroit’s penalty kill has been awful of late.

Second, going back to last year, Palmieri and Anders Lee have played very well together offensively, generating 72 shot attempts and 4.1 expected goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five. If they can stop shooting under 6% when they’re on the ice, the potential is there to fill the net.

Finally, Top Stacks Tool the has this line with a bit of negative leverage but under 10% owned on DraftKings despite being a top-10 team by top-2 stack probability. All these reasons, with their reasonable cost, makes them a tournament target for this slate.

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