It is a 10-game slate in the NHL this Saturday night, giving us a wide array of options to make our DFS picks. Illnesses are running rampant around the league and some key players like Matthew Tkachuk in Florida and Elias Pettersson in Vancouver may be out of their respective lineups. Stokastic members are strongly encouraged to check into the members-only Discord through the day for up-to-the-minute injury news.
Let’s get to the NHL DFS picks.
NHL DFS Picks, Top Stacks, Lineup Optimizer Plays | Dec. 17
Tage Thompson (BUF at ARI): DraftKings – $8,600 | FanDuel – $10,300
Despite not having winger Jeff Skinner next to him for his most recent three games due to suspension, Tage Thompson still managed three goals, five points, and 13 shots on net. He has simply been one of the most impactful offensive centers in the NHL this season, improving on a breakout campaign last season, while generating more scoring chances at 5-on-5 than anyone not named Auston Matthews. Skinner is set to return from his suspension in this game and that gives Thompson a boost at all strengths, assuming they’re back on a line together.
Going into Arizona is a big part of the appeal for Buffalo and Thompson tonight. The Coyotes are by far the most penalized team in the league, giving 4.3 power plays per game to the opposition. On the flipside, Buffalo is tied for second in power plays drawn per game at 3.8. Thompson could see a lot of ice time with the man advantage tonight and his team has one of the best power plays in the league. On top of that, with Arizona goalie Karel Vejmelka starting last night, it’s Connor Ingram guarding the Coyotes cage tonight. He has allowed at least three goals in all eight starts this year.
Thompson is a priority play at center, and his line is perfectly acceptable in tournaments. He’s projected for the sixth-most DFS points (16.54) on the slate.
Anze Kopitar (LAK vs. SJ): DraftKings – $5,300 | FanDuel – $7,000
In 392 minutes this year skating with Kevin Fiala, Anze Kopitar has managed 21 points, or roughly 3.2 points per 60 minutes. Without Fiala beside him, that number drops to about 1.55 points per 60 minutes. Having a top-end offensive talent on his wing has turned Kopitar’s season around, and he has 12 points in 11 games since American Thanksgiving. According to our expert DFS data, Kopitar’s projected for a modest 10.47 DFS points tonight, adequate value for his price point.
San Jose is visiting tonight and, typically, the Los Angeles Kings send out their second line against the opposing top line in a shutdown role. That leaves Kopitar’s trio to skate against the second line and the Logan Couture–Alex Barabanov duo has been on the ice for 2.7 expected and 3.2 actual goals against at 5-on-5. They have not been very strong defensively, even if they’ve been good offensively, and that gives the Kopitar line a solid matchup.
The Sharks have a good penalty kill but Kopitar’s production has largely not come on the PP, as just six of his 28 points on the campaign have come with the man advantage. It is a very good 5-on-5 matchup and that’s where our focus is. Given his correlation with Fiala, using them in a two-man duo is the tournament path to take here. Kopitar’s ownership percentage (7.1), makes him worthy of a mid-value pick.
Andrei Svechnikov (CAR vs. DAL): DraftKings – $6,500 | FanDuel – $7,800
There could be some scoffing at Paul Stastny being the center for Andrei Svechnikov and Martin Necas, but it shouldn’t really matter: even when that winger duo was with Jesperi Kotkaniemi, whom Evolving Hockey has as arguably the least offensively impactful forward in the league this year, they still scored just shy of 3.0 goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. Svechnikov and Necas are a dynamic pair and the Russian winger even scored in the team’s last game.
With the Dallas top line off the ice over the last month, the team is allowing 2.7 expected goals against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. That is worse than league average and with Carolina at home, the Svechnikov line will not see much of that Dallas three-man unit. It gives them a better matchup than it otherwise could be, especially when factoring in that the Stars are the eighth-most penalized team in the league. Not having Sebastian Aho hurts the Carolina power play, but they may get a lot of cracks to get on the board. Despite going against a strong Dallas defense, our projections have Svechnikov recording 11.10 DFS points tonight, with much higher potential.
Stastny is not on the same PP unit and he’s typically not a player that shoots much. Therefore, Svechnikov is in play for us as a one-off option on this slate, especially because our ownership has him coming in at 1% or less on DK and about 2% on FD.
Travis Konecny (PHI vs. NYR): DraftKings – $5,800 | FanDuel – $8,800
Kevin Hayes will be healthy scratched for Philadelphia but if we look at the season’s numbers at 5-on-5, the Flyers have scored more, shot more, and created more expected goals when Travis Konecny is on the ice without Hayes. Konecny has been the one driving the bus for the Flyers as his scoring chance creation – for himself and for his line mates – ranks in first-line territory, alongside names like Jordan Kyrou and Leon Draisaitl.
It has been a breakout season for the Philadelphia flank as he’s over a point per matchup, is sitting with 3.3 shots per contest, and is pacing for nearly 40 goals in an 82-game campaign. Among all wingers on DraftKings tonight priced under $7,000, Konecny is third in our projections and is much cheaper than options like Jonathan Marchessault or Artturi Lehkonen. He has skated at least 20 minutes in each of his last seven games, averaging over 22:30 in that span. It marks him as a great value on DK tonight, and worth rostering at an expected ownership of 7.1 percent.
He is considerably more expensive on FanDuel and can thus be left to the side on that site. DFS players testing their mettle on FD should consider Sam Reinhart (FLA, $6,600) who is set to skate on the top line – pending news on Matthew Tkachuk – and carries a higher projection than Konecny for $2,200 less.
Fabian Zetterlund (NJ vs. FLA): DraftKings – $3,600 | FanDuel – $4,300
In New Jersey’s latest game, they mixed up the lines at all strengths and it moved Fabian Zetterlund to the top line, and top power-play unit, with Nico Hischier. He had played with Hischier earlier this season following the injury to Ondrej Palat, and posted eight points in 13 games, managing 2.6 shots per game. His move up the lineup in the team’s last game saw Zetterlund post a season-high 16:40 in ice time, landing five shots on target.
Florida has been on a bit of a defensive slide of late as the last month has seen them post an expected goals against rate at 5-on-5 (2.63) worse than teams like Ottawa, Edmonton, and Philadelphia. They are 22nd in shots allowed in that span, so this might be a good time for the Devils to catch the Panthers at home. On top of that, Florida is the fourth-most penalized team in the league, being short-handed 3.8 times per game on the year (league average is around 3.3).
Zetterlund is priced in a range where he doesn’t need to do a lot to have good tournament value; his DK shot bonus last game is proof of that. This is a good matchup for him and the top line, though, so they’re all in play, even if Zetterlund makes a nice salary-saver by himself in NHL DFS and a no-brainer pick at a projected 4.8 percent ownership.
Gustav Forsling (FLA at NJ): DraftKings – $5,400 | FanDuel – $6,400
On the other side of that Devils matchup is a Panthers team that has three playable high-end-ish defensemen on the roster. One of them is Gustav Forsling, who is often disregarded because he does not get top power-play time for the Panthers. The wrinkle is the Florida power play has not been good this year, ranking 26th by conversion percentage, and they may be without Hart Trophy candidate Matthew Tkachuk once again. The focus should be more on 5-on-5 play and that’s where Forsling creates value.
It has been 17 games since Aaron Ekblad returned from injury and in those games, Forsling has 13 points, landed 47 shots, and blocked 20. He is averaging 10.8 DK points per game as a result and his peripherals, in a matchup that features two high-octane even-strength offenses, should play well tonight. He is seventh among our defense projections for blue liners priced under $7,000 on DK, meaning Forsling is a good value this evening.
On FanDuel, where peripherals matter a bit less, Drew Doughty (LAK, $5,800) is a lower-priced option with a stronger projection in NHL DFS.
Nicolas Hague (VGK vs. NYI): DraftKings – $3,400 | FanDuel – $4,200
With all of Shea Theodore, Alex Pietrangelo, and Zach Whitecloud missing from the lineup, Nicolas Hague has been seeing a lot more ice time, averaging over 22 minutes a game in his last three matchups. He has one assist, seven shots, and 12 blocks in that span, so while the point production isn’t great, the peripherals are doing very well.
The New York Islanders are in town tonight playing their second game of a road back-to-back, having lost last night in Arizona. That means avoiding elite goalie Ilya Sorokin, and facing a team that is in the bottom-10 by expected goals against at 5-on-5 over the last month. Hague is third among all defensemen priced under $3,500 by our DK projections, and sixth for rearguards under $4,500 on FD, for this 10-gamer NHL DFS slate.
Jake Oettinger (DAL at CAR): DraftKings – $7,400 | FanDuel – $8,100
Carolina has had a very hard time piling up the goals of late. They have scored more than four goals once in their last 15 games, and just three times all season, a little over 10% of the time. That number was over 25% last year. Over the last five weeks, Carolina is second in the league in shot attempts per minute but 28th in goals per minute. That mix of high shot volume with low scoring is what draws us to their opposing goalie, Jake Oettinger.
It is a wonderful season for Oettinger, even if he’s had his ups and downs (as all goalies do). He is seventh by Evolving Hockey’s Goals Saved Above Expected, 10th in overall save percentage among 49 goals with at least 10 starts, and hasn’t given up more than three goals in five straight games. The 23-year-old net-minder is one of the top options on DK as he’s sixth in our projections despite being $1,000 cheaper (or more) than some of the options just ahead of him.
On FanDuel, there is a very cheap option in Toronto’s Ilya Samsonov (FD, $6,500) that should draw the attention of DFS players.
Top NHL DFS Stacks Today
San Jose is in Los Angeles and at the least, it gives them a good power-play matchup. On the season, the Kings are giving 3.5 power plays to the opponent, which is above the league average. To compound that problem, over the last five weeks, Los Angeles’s penalty kill is 29th by shots allowed and last by goals allowed. Both Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl are on the San Jose top PP unit, a five-man squad that is scoring 10.6 goals per 60 minutes, a mark that is higher than the top PP units from Tampa Bay, the New York Rangers, and Vancouver.
Our Top Stacks tool has this line somewhere around 6-8% ownership, depending on the site, but a higher top-2 stack probability. They have good leverage, are in a great special team matchup, and are very reasonably priced.
Staying with Western Conference teams, the new Winnipeg top line just keeps rolling. In their 150 minutes together at 5-on-5, they are generating 3.3 expected goals and 3.6 actual goals per 60 minutes. Even in their last game, when they were held off the scoresheet, they combined for nine shots. They are all involved offensively and two of the three guys – Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler – are on the top power play unit.
Winnipeg is in Vancouver tonight and the Canucks may be without both Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser due to illness. The real loss is Pettersson, as it now forces the team to play Bo Horvat and J.T. Miller on separate lines, thus weakening the top-6 greatly. Winnipeg’s prices are reasonable on DraftKings, and the matchup could be very good, depending on the health of some of the Canucks stars. On FanDuel, players might want to go to the second line, who are more expensive but coming in much lower owned.
*Additional stats from Natural Stat Trick