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NHL DFS Picks Today: Brock Nelson and Jesper Bratt

Michael Clifford

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NHL DFS Picks Today: Brock Nelson, Jesper Bratt, Connor Hellebuyck

It is a sensible nine-game slate in the NHL tonight, and that provides a good number of options for DFS picks. A lot of top stars like Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, David Pastrnak and Alex Ovechkin are all off tonight so that affords DFS players the chance to vary their selection process. There are illnesses running rampant through the league, so it is very important for Stokastic subscribers to check Stokastic’s members-only Discord for lineup/injury information throughout the day.

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NHL DFS Picks, Top Stacks, Lineup Optimizer Plays

Center

Brock Nelson (NYI vs. STL): DraftKings – $6,300 | FanDuel – $8,000

Following his 37-goal breakout season a year ago, Nelson has kept the offence rolling with 12 goals and 25 points in 26 games this season. A big difference for him has been his shot rate, which climbed from 2.4 per game in 2021-22 to an even 3.0 in 2022-23. The additional shots not only help give him a higher DFS floor but also softens the cushion of a shooting percentage decline that he’s seen this season. Even with a much lower conversion rate, his goals/game mark is still for 38 goals in a full campaign. Volume matters, and Nelson is providing some.

St. Louis is in town tonight and they played the Rangers last night, blowing a lead and losing 6-4. Nelson should face off against the Blues second line and while they’re having a good offensive season together, the defensive issues persist: 3.1 expected goals per 60 minutes against at five-on-five with the same number of actual goals against. Furthermore, while St. Louis takes few penalties, their penalty kill is last in the league by a number of metrics since Halloween. It is a good matchup at all strengths for Nelson and that is why he’s fifth among Stokastic’s center projections on DraftKings and sixth on FanDuel.

Sam Bennett (FLA at WPG): DraftKings – $5,200 | FanDuel – $7,000

Florida will be without Aleksander Barkov and Anton Lundell once again, affording Bennett another opportunity to be the team’s top center. He has played at least 18:47 in five straight games, averaging 19:35 a night in that span. He has two goals and 6 points over that time frame, so the ice time is leading to better line mates and more production.

Bennett has formed a solid duo with Matthew Tkachuk this year, as the team generates 3.6 expected goals and 5.2 actual goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five with them on the ice. Those are huge offensive numbers and give an indication of the upside they have if things go well. Florida’s temporary top pivot won’t be on the top power-play unit, but Winnipeg has an excellent penalty kill anyway. This is about the even-strength matchup and it’s a good one for this Florida line, as Winnipeg often uses their third line in a shutdown role and they have a lot of trouble controlling the play, boasting a 41.3% expected goal share.

At Bennett’s reasonable price, he can be used as a one-off tonight on DraftKings, as he’s the most valuable center on a point-per-dollar basis that is priced over $4,000. His value is a bit lower on FanDuel, where he’s relatively more expensive but still very much in play, particularly in a line stack.

Winger

Nikita Kucherov (TB vs. DET): DraftKings – $8,100 | FanDuel – $10,100

Of all the talk of elite performances this season, it seems Kucherov is getting overlooked despite the fact he’s on pace to push for nearly 40 goals (even with an eight-year low shooting percentage) and over 120 points. His last five games have seen him average 22:40 a night, meaning the ice-time decline he saw a couple weeks ago is now a distant memory.

Tampa Bay’s top line has been phenomenal this year, but shooting percentage remains an issue. They are scoring 2.6 actual goals compared to 3.4 expected goals per 60 minutes, shooting 7.9%. Kucherov’s line shooting percentage is the lowest it’s been since his rookie year, and he was double digits for four straight seasons. It’s scary to think that he’s on pace for over 120 points and is doing so with a very low five-on-five conversion rate, but that’s what’s going on here. If (when) that regresses, he could go on a huge offensive tear.

Detroit’s penalty kill has been on a big slide of late, ranking 26th by goals allowed per minute over the last five weeks. Tampa Bay’s power play has struggled at times, but this is a good spot for them to take advantage of a declining penalty kill. Kucherov leads Stokastic’s winger projections tonight on both sites and that speaks to his and his line’s upside.

Jesper Bratt (NJ vs. CHI): DraftKings – $6,600 | FanDuel – $7,700

Bratt has 100 points over his last 100 regular season games, including 27 in 25 this year, as he is starting to cement himself in the upper echelon of producers on the flank. His issue is that he’s still not shooting very much, sitting at 2.4 shots per game this season. There’s little doubting his ability to produce points, though, and that’s vital for high-end DFS scores.

Bratt has formed a formidable duo on the top line with Nico Hischier, as their unit is generating 3.9 expected goals and the same number of actual goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five. The offence gets a great matchup tonight with Chicago in town too. The top-line Blackhawks duo of Andreas Athanasiou and Patrick Kane are allowing 3.4 expected goals and 3.2 actual goals against per 60 minutes. The New Jersey top line should be able to get the run of play all game long and that means Bratt and co. are in a good situation tonight.

The lack of shooting means Bratt should probably be paired at least with Hischier for tournaments tonight. Given the reasonable price of Tomas Tatar on the other wing, a full three-man stack is in play here, as Stokastic’s Top Stacks Tool has the top Devils trio as a top-10 line on the night by top-2 stack probability.


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Arthur Kaliyev (LA at OTT): DraftKings – $3,200 | FanDuel – $5,500

Very quietly, Kaliyev is putting up a solid sophomore season with nine goals and 17 points in 26 games. Those aren’t huge numbers, but he’s also skating just 11:37 a night on the campaign. On a per-minute basis, he’s in the 95th percentile of regular NHL forwards in goals this season. Because of this production, he has nine games with at least 11 DraftKings points, or over one-third of his games. Considering his price, that is excellent production.

The real reason Kaliyev is listed here is his move to the top line in their last game. He skated with Anze Kopitar and Kevin Fiala in the third period and skated nearly six minutes in that frame alone. Extrapolate that for three periods and he stands a good chance of a huge TOI rise compared to what he’s done to date. Getting lineup information from the Kings can be tough during the day so pay attention to warmups, but Kaliyev could be on the top line and the more productive power play tonight.

At his price, Kaliyev is perfectly fine to use as a one-off for this game, specifically on DraftKings where he’s priced so reasonably. Depending on his line mates, a full-line stack may be in play for tournaments.

For DFS players looking for a cheaper option on FanDuel, consider Teuvo Teravainen ($4,400), who leads Stokastic’s for wingers priced under $5,000.

Defense

Brent Burns (CAR at ANA): DraftKings – $6,300 | FanDuel – $6,900

Carolina is in Anaheim and that means a lot of Carolina skaters are options. The Ducks are allowing the most shots and second-most goals, per minute over the last five weeks, as this team has just fallen apart defensively. The penalty kill is allowing the fourth-most goals per minute in that stretch and that is part of the reason Carolina’s power play quarterback, Burns, is listed here. Half of Burns’ production – 9 of 18 points – have come with the man advantage and he’s fifth among all regular power-play defensemen in the league in shot rate.

Stokastic’s early projection run has Burns fifth on DraftKings and third on FanDuel in median points, carrying single-digit ownership. That is perfectly fine on a slate of this size and means Burns is a top high-end defense option for DFS players.

Thomas Chabot (OTT vs. LA): DraftKings – $5,300 | FanDuel – $6,400

It has been a tough year for Ottawa’s top defenseman, as he’s had a couple nagging injuries and has just 12 points in 19 games. On a team that was supposed to be much better offensively, that’s not great production.

Tonight appears to be a good matchup for the Senators, though, and specifically their power play. The Kings are in the bottom 5 of the league by a number of penalty-killing metrics over the last five weeks, as both their defense and goaltending have let them down. Ottawa’s top power play unit, meanwhile, is generating 64 shots and 13.7 goals per 60 minutes on the campaign. It is a very good power play facing a very poor penalty kill and that’s great news for Chabot. At his cost, Chabot is one of the top values for blue liners priced over $5,000 on DraftKings and $6,000 on FanDuel. He can be used as a one-off or part of a Senators stack.

Goalie

Connor Hellebuyck (WPG vs. FLA): DraftKings – $7,500 | FanDuel – $8,700

Winnipeg’s star goalie continues to have a great season, as Hellebuyck has a .931 save percentage on the season, third in the league among goalies with at least 10 starts. He is also tied for the most shutouts in the NHL, as he’s been a big reason for the Jets’ success this year.

Florida is in town tonight and they are first in the league in shots per minute at five-on-five. Even in the five games without Aleksander Barkov in the lineup, they are still a top-10 team in shot attempts per minute. Stokastic’s have Hellebuyck with the second-most expected saves on the slate and his low price gives a combination that can lead to success in DFS. He will be one of the highest owned goalies on the night, but that doesn’t mean he’s a bad option.

If FanDuel players want a cheaper option on that site, look towards Andrei Vasilevskiy ($7,700) who rates as one of Stokastic’s top goalie values.

Top NHL DFS Stacks Today

CAR1: Jarvis – Aho – Necas

It hasn’t been a lot of time together, but in 57-some minutes of five-on-five time, this Carolina line has generated 3.5 expected goals and 4.3 actual goals per 60 minutes. Going back to last year, the duo of Seth Jarvis and Sebastian Aho – without Andrei Svechnikov – are scoring 3.7 goals per 60 minutes in over 455 minutes together. Whether a small sample this year or a larger sample last year, Aho and Jarvis have been excellent together, and adding breakout star Martin Necas shouldn’t slow them down in the slightest.

As mentioned in the section on Burns, this is a very good matchup for Carolina and this trio is reasonably priced. Ownership could be a bit high as DFS players target a bad Ducks team, but Stokastic’s Top Stacks Tool has them with positive leverage, and thus they are still a high-priority trio for tonight.

SEA1: Wennberg – Burakovsky – Schwartz

The way Seattle runs their lines, this three-man unit often faces off against the second line from the opposition. With Montreal in town tonight, that means lots of time against the Sean MonahanJosh Anderson line from the Canadiens. That Montreal duo has been trading chances all season long, posting 3.5 expected goals for and 3.4 expected goals against per 60 minutes, with actual goals for/against a shade over 3.0. It is a good offensive matchup for this Seattle line, which typically earns the most minutes per game.

Stokastic’s Top Stacks Tool has this line coming in with more ownership than top-2 stack percentage, meaning negative leverage. However, a 3.8 team total is too high to ignore so this Seattle trio remains in play in a very good matchup against a Habs team on the second night of a road back-to-back.

*Additional stats from Natural Stat Trick

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