It is a colossal 11-game slate on tap tonight with a slew of high-end selections from Auston Matthews to Nathan MacKinnon to David Pastrnak. Options will be whittled down as we try to look for both high-end and cheap alternatives across both DraftKings and FanDuel for NHL DFS contests. As usual, Stokastic members should check the subscriber-only Discord at relevant warmup times for lineup/injury news.
Let’s break this down.
NHL DFS Picks Today, Top Stacks, Lineup Optimizer Plays
Nico Hischier (NJD vs. ARI): DraftKings – $6,400 | FanDuel – $8,400
Going back to December 1st of last season, Nico Hischier has managed 27 goals and 63 points in 63 games played. That is a point-per-game player over a three-quarter-season stretch and speaks to his growth as an offensive weapon, along with the rest of his team.
New Jersey’s top line has been excellent in their 70 minutes together at 5-on-5, generating over 4.0 expected and 4.2 actual goals per 60 minutes. They are generating shots at 5-on-5 at the rate of an average power play and that speaks volumes of just how dominant they have been. Tonight, they face off against an Arizona top line that is carrying just 39% of the expected goal share this season, giving Hischier and his line mates a terrific matchup.
Our big concern here is ownership. Teams and players facing the Coyotes are always rostered at a high rate and that should be no exception as we have them in the high single-digit range. It is too good of a matchup to ignore, though, and Hischier’s multi-faceted role makes him fine as a one-off. Using him in a full-line stack for tournaments, including Tomas Tatar, is a way to dilute overall ownership as the winger should be much lower owned than his line mates.
Evan Rodrigues (COL vs. CAR): DraftKings – $4,900 | FanDuel – $6,200
It was a slow start to the year for Evan Rodrigues, who managed just two points (both goals) in his first seven games, averaging under two shots per game. However, an injury to Valeri Nichushkin has pushed him to the top power-play unit and his per-game ice time has risen by more than five full minutes. He has five points in the five games since being promoted and is averaging three shots on goal each contest. His shot attempts per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 trail only Nathan MacKinnon among Avalanche forwards since the Nichushkin injury.
Last year, Carolina had one of the best penalty kills we have seen from a team in recent NHL history. They have been much more pedestrian this year, ranking seventh by expected goals against (which is good but not elite) and are 21st by goals against per minute. Colorado maintains one of the league’s best power plays and Rodrigues could stand to benefit.
The top guys from the Avalanche usually draw reasonable ownership but there shouldn’t be much on the second-line center here (our early run is around 3%). All the same, he’s skating a lot of minutes and getting exposure to one of the league’s top PP units. He can be considered as a one-off or as part of a Colorado PP stack tonight.
Troy Terry (ANA vs. CHI): DraftKings – $6,900 | $8,600
A good case can be made for Troy Terry being the least-discussed superstar in the league. Since the start of last season, he has the same goals/minute rate at 5-on-5 of names like Nathan MacKinnon, Andrei Svechnikov, and Kyle Connor. This year, he’s shooting more often on the power play than MacKinnon, Elias Pettersson, or John Tavares. He is also averaging over 20 minutes a night and three shots per game.
Terry was reunited with Trevor Zegras last game and that duo has been dynamic offensively for the Ducks this year: 3.1 expected goals and 5.2 actual goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 in over 100 minutes together. In over 300 minutes together going back to last year, they are scoring 3.7 goals per 60 as well. This fearsome twosome should also see a lot of depth matchups from a Blackhawks team that is bottom-10 by most defensive metrics.
As with Hischier listed above, there should be high ownership here as DFS players recognize a good matchup against Chicago. With that said, Terry (and Zegras) skate a lot of minutes together at all offensive strengths and have great numbers to back them up. Terry is one of our top winger values in the $6,000-plus range on DK and is still fine on FD even if he is priced up a bit.
Adrian Kempe (LAK vs. DET): DraftKings – $4,900 | FanDuel – $6,100
It has been five straight games without a point for Adrian Kempe but it’s not for lack of trying. He is still skating nearly 20 minutes a night in that stretch and is averaging four shots on goal. Kempe’s line has been excellent since adding Gabriel Vilardi, sitting with 3.5 expected goals per 60 minutes and controlling north of 62% of the expected goals. Shooting percentages, as is often the case with the Kings, remains an issue, but they’re dominating the opposition and that is very important for us.
What is also important is the matchup with Detroit. Los Angeles uses Kempe’s line against the second line from visiting teams, and that means Andrew Copp tonight. Copp’s line has been awful defensively, recording 3.4 expected goals and 4.5 actual goals against per 60 minutes. In fact, by defensive impact as rated by the stats website Evolving Hockey, Copp is among the absolute worst in the league in the first month of the season. This is a great matchup for the 35-goal scorer from a year ago.
Seeing as there is perfect correlation with the Los Angeles top line, using all three in a tournament stack is one route to take. For DFS players just looking for a shooter, though, Kempe is one of our top-10 values among mid-priced wingers tonight.
Brendan Gallagher (MTL vs. PIT): DraftKings – $2,800 | FanDuel – $4,500
The issue with Brendan Gallagher, as has been the case most of his career, is ice time. In his last five games alone, he’s skated as little at 11:12 and as much as 15:38. That is something that is built into his price, though, and he can still manage a lot of shots: Gallagher has hit the shot bonus on DK twice already this year despite the low TOI. He also has 24 shot attempts at 5-on-5 in his last five games. For reference, that is the same number as teammate Cole Caufield, who is considerably more expensive and plays more minutes.
Pittsburgh is coming to town tonight playing their second road game in as many nights. Gallagher’s line typically avoids squaring off with opposing top lines and that means not seeing much of Sidney Crosby. That is usually a positive for opponents.
Going back to the hiring of Montreal’s coach last year, Gallagher’s line is above average by expected goals and goals generated per 60 minutes. They don’t get a lot of ice time but at his price, the Montreal assistant captain doesn’t need it. That low cost means he makes a nice salary-saver for tournament lineups, allowing high-end, high-priced players elsewhere.
For a lower-priced wing option on FanDuel, Josh Bailey (NYI, $3,800) is skating on the top line for the Islanders against a Columbus team missing a lot of defensemen due to injury.
Rasmus Andersson (CGY vs. WPG): DraftKings – $4,900 | FanDuel – $6,200
Calgary is on a seven-game losing streak but a lot of it is driven by percentages, as they have the worst shooting percentage and 29th-ranked save percentage in that stretch. There is a bit of bad luck here.
With Jonathan Huberdeau off the top PP unit – he’s injured – the Flames are still scoring over 10 goals per 60 minutes, which is a very good mark. Rasmus Andersson runs that power-play unit and has already amassed six power-play points in 13 games on the year. He has also seen his ice time increase significantly as the Flames blue line deals with a couple injuries, skating 26:45 a night over his last five games. Winnipeg is in town tonight and they’re an average-at-best defensive team. With all the extra ice time he’s earning, Andersson is second among our DK projections for blue liners priced $5,000 or less, leading the way on FD for the same players priced under $6,500.
Andrew Peeke (CBJ at NYI): DraftKings – $3,000 | FanDuel – $4,300
The Columbus blue line has endured significant injuries recently with all of Zach Werenski, Adam Boqvist, and Nick Blankenburg expect to miss significant time. Erik Gudbranson is also injured. This opens up a lot of ice time for the rest of their defensemen, including Andrew Peeke. He skated significant minutes at times last year when they had injuries, including a 20-game stretch from late January to early March where he was over 25 minutes a night. He had 52 blocked shots in those 20 games.
With DraftKings’ block bonus, Peeke is grading out as one of the top punt-type defensemen tonight by value and projection. Expect a lot of ice time from the 24-year-old and that brings him into focus for us.
Ville Husso (DET at LAK): DraftKings – $7,200 | FanDuel – $8,000
Despite getting blown out in their last game, allowing eight goals on 33 shots, Ville Husso is still sitting with a .920 save percentage on the year, good for 10th in the NHL among regular starters. Goalies and teams have bad games, and a single contest shouldn’t alter how we view a netminder. Over his three seasons, Husso is still third in the NHL in high-danger save percentage at 5-on-5, behind only Igor Shesterkin and Ilya Sorokin.
Los Angeles is a team that shoots a lot but can have trouble scoring. On the season, they’re eighth in shot attempts per minute at 5-on-5 but just 15th in goals, thanks to a shooting percentage that is 21st in the league. That is something that plagued them last year as well and it’s what makes Husso a low-priced target for us this evening.
For a cheaper option on FanDuel, consider John Gibson (ANA, $7,400). He is third in value by our projections for netminders priced under $7,600 on FD.
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As mentioned in the section on Terry, the duo with Zegras has been explosive offensively this year. This has continued with or without Max Comtois skating on a line with them; just be careful that Comtois might lose his role. Adam Henrique missed their last game due to the birth of his child and should return to the lineup tonight. He might take Comtois’s role though thankfully, they are similarly priced so making the swap should be straightforward (on DK, at least). Our Top Stacks tool has this Ducks trio as 10th by our top-2 stack percentage on DK and 11th on FD, which is good for a slate featuring 22 teams. All three are on the same PP unit as well and the Blackhawks are one of the most penalized teams in the league. Quack Quack.
When the Nashville Predators are down a man on the penalty kill, they are allowing the most shots against per minute. More than poor penalty-killing teams like Montreal or Anaheim. What has saved them is their goaltending and they can’t rely on goalies every night to bail them out. This is where the Rangers’ top PP unit – scoring nearly 11 goals per 60 minutes – can do damage. All it takes is a few opportunities for a group this talented to take advantage of a porous PK.
Though we don’t have PP stacks in our Top Stacks tool, the Rangers’ top two forward lines are projected for low single-digit ownership. There won’t be many DFS players using this team tonight and the power-play matchup is very good.
*Additional Stats from Natural Stat Trick
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