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NHL DFS Picks Today: Mark Scheifele, Johnny Gaudreau, and Stacking the Vegas Golden Knights

Michael Clifford

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Free NHL FanDuel picks cheat sheet with the best daily fantasy hockey plays and optimal NHL DFS lineups using Awesemo's lineup optimizer Schenn Tarasenko Mark Scheifele

There is another gargantuan 13-game slate for us tonight in the NHL DFS picks, which gives us an imposing number of choices to comb through. We will focus on both higher-priced and lower-end options to give DFS players targets across the salary spectrum. As usual, Stokastic subscribers should check the members-only Discord for lineup and injury information, especially when warmups hit.

Let’s pare these games and picks down a bit.

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NHL DFS Picks, Top Stacks, Lineup Optimizer Plays

Center

Mark Scheifele (WPG vs. PIT): DraftKings – $6,600 | FanDuel – $7,000

Among expensive centers tonight on DraftKings (those priced over $6,000), Mark Scheifele is projecting to be one of our top values. He is projecting for more points than pricier options like Boone Jenner and Sebastian Aho, for example. One reason is ice time, as he’s not skated under 19 minutes in any contest so far this season and has been over 23 minutes in his last two outings. Another reason is an increased shot rate: his shots per minute are at a seven-year high and he has already hit the DK shot bonus four times in 15 games. He hit that bonus just five times in 67 games last season.

Something Winnipeg does with their lines is rarely send out the Scheifele line against opposing top lines. This means he’ll avoid the Sidney Crosby matchup from Pittsburgh, and their third line in has been very weak defensively. Beyond that, the Penguins are 30th by shots allowed and 22nd by goals against on the penalty kill this year, another boost for Scheifele.

Given his correlation on the power play with his line mates, Scheifele is best used in a tournament stack tonight, but his shot rate does make a one-off proposition more intriguing for NHL DFS picks.

Ryan O’Reilly (STL vs. ANA): DraftKings – $4,300 | FanDuel – $4,600

Ryan O’Reilly had a brutal start to the season with one goal (his only point) in the team’s first eight games. He then did a media interview where he excoriated himself and his play. Whether he’s more focused now or not is up for debate but he does have seven points in eight games since that interview, skating at least 18 minutes in three of his last four contests.

Adding Brandon Saad back to his wing has been huge for O’Reilly. Almost all of his scoring has been since Saad returned on November 7th and the Blues generate over 10% more shot attempts when they’re together than when O’Reilly is without him. They also get an Anaheim team that ranks near the bottom of the league in defensive metrics across the board.

According to our projections tonight for low-priced centers (under $4,500 on DK and $5,500 on FD), O’Reilly is at-or-near the top of total fantasy points, along with teammates Robert Thomas and Brayden Schenn. That speaks to the matchup the team has tonight and is a big reason why we are including the St. Louis captain on this list. At his price, he can be used as a one-off among NHL DFS picks but is also fine to bring along with Saad in a cheap duo stack.

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Winger

Johnny Gaudreau (CBJ vs. DET): DraftKings – $6,800 | FanDuel – $6,600

Despite an awful start to the year for Columbus as a team, offseason signee Johnny Gaudreau has been just fine, pacing for a 30-goal season and averaging three shots per game. His only real problem is an awful Blue Jackets power play, which has scored just four goals in 16 games. Thankfully, this isn’t a game to target for power plays anyway – Detroit’s penalty kill is allowing the fifth-fewest PK shots against per minute.

On the flipside, though, is the even-strength matchup tonight. Gaudreau’s line is often sent to face off with top competition, and that means the Dylan Larkin line tonight. With David Perron on Larkin’s wing, Detroit is allowing 2.9 expected goals against per 60 minutes and allowing 3.3 goals. The Red Wings have struggled a lot defensively this year and that permeates throughout their top-6 forward mix.

Among all wingers priced at least $6,000 tonight on either site, Gaudreau is either at the top in total points projection, or second place behind Boston’s David Pastrnak. The lack of a good power play and expensive price on his center means Gaudreau can be used as a one-off here tonight in any NHL DFS picks format, but he is also perfectly fine in a full-line stack for tournaments.

William Nylander (TOR vs. BUF): DraftKings – $5,300 | $7,600

What needs to be said first is to expect a lot of ownership on the top Toronto forwards, William Nylander included. They are showing a high implied goal total, a lot of the prime options – outside of Auston Matthews – have been priced down, and it is a good matchup with the Buffalo Sabres in town. All these factors, including Nylander skating on the top line and top power play, will drive heavy ownership in this direction.

With all that said, all the reasons for high ownership are what make Nylander a recommendation. The top line isn’t as prolific scoring-wise with Nylander there, historically speaking, but they do generate a lot of offense, managing 3.2 expected goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. They also are facing a Buffalo top line that loves trading chances back and forth, as they generate 3.7 expected goals for per 60 minutes but give up 3.9 against. It leads to a lot of actual goals against and that is a good thing for Nylander and his line mates.

At his reasonable price on DK, Nylander can be used as a one-off, but excluding Matthews might not be a good idea with this being a very good spot for the Toronto power play for NHL DFS picks.

For a cheaper option on FanDuel, going back to Kyle Connor (WPG, $6,600) is an option given his strong projection and (comparatively) low price.

Mason Marchment (DAL vs. NYI): DraftKings – $3,600 | FanDuel – $5,700

It has been an up-and-down season for Mason Marchment, who started the year with six points in four games but has just four in 13 games since. He is still just shy of a 25-goal pace, though, and goals are far more important for us in the fantasy game.

The New York Islanders in town present the same problem we’ve discussed with the Winnipeg Jets at times. The Islanders aren’t a good defensive team – they allow the second-most expected goals and 10th-most shots against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. What is saving them is goaltender Ilya Sorokin, one of the top goalies on the planet, who has a .925 save percentage on the campaign. The great goaltending makes spending for top options precarious, but Marchment is not priced as such.

In addition to the Islanders being poor defensively, Marchment will square off with the opposing second line. That line allows 3.7 expected goals and 3.2 actual goals against per 60 minutes. This gives Dallas’s second line, and Marchment, a good in-game matchup to target. He can be used as a salary-saving one-off tonight for tournaments; he is one of our top sub-$4,000 DK wingers tonight.

On FanDuel, consider Adam Henrique (ANA, $4,700). He is on the top line for the Ducks and is projecting better than Marchment for $1,000 less.


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Defense

Tony DeAngelo (PHI at MTL): DraftKings – $6,000 | FanDuel – $6,100

Of all blue liners priced at least $6,000 on both sites, Tony DeAngelo is coming in with a better projection than more expensive options like Adam Fox, Erik Karlsson, and Justin Faulk. One factor here is that he runs the top Philadelphia power play and has six power-play points on the season, as he is heavily involved in that quintet. Conversely, the Montreal Canadiens are allowing the most shots against on the penalty kill so far this season and despite great goaltending, are mid-pack by goals against.

DeAngelo being on the road is hurting his ownership here tonight as we have him under 5% on DK and around 7% on FD. DFS players wanting to avoid the higher-owned options like Roman Josi and John Carlson should look to DeAngelo. He’s cheaper and that brings good value.

Evan Bouchard (EDM vs. VGK): DraftKings – $4,300 | FanDuel – $4,400

There were times this season when Evan Bouchard was much more expensive, but his inconsistent ice time has hurt him a lot. In his last five games alone, he has played under 17 minutes twice and over 22 minutes twice. On the year, he has played under 17 minutes five times and over 21 minutes five times. It makes him very unreliable for cash games but makes him a target for tournaments.

Bouchard has also fallen on some hard luck as he is without a goal this year on 39 total shots. If he’s shooting his normal 6%, his fantasy points/game increase 14% and he’s probably $1,000 more expensive. It is a tough home matchup against Vegas but with the price decrease and potential for high ice time, Bouchard is second in both our DraftKings and FanDuel projections for blue liners priced under $5,000.

Goalie

Connor Hellebuyck (WPG vs. PIT): DraftKings – $7,600 | FanDuel – $8,400

It is a bit of a wonder what is going on with DK’s pricing of Connor Hellebuyck this season. He has generally been one of the top goalies in the league for years now – with a Vezina Trophy to prove it – and has a .935 save percentage on the campaign. He leads all regular starters on tonight’s slate in DK points per game, hasn’t had a single-digit DK point performance in four weeks, and yet there are times where he’s priced in the mid-$7,000 range. Pittsburgh is a good team, despite some losses lately, but Hellebuyck is cheaper than the Edmonton goalies, for example.

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Regardless, Hellebuyck projects as one of the top sub-$8,000 goalies tonight by value, trailing only Minnesota’s Filip Gustavsson. He is also second among all goalies in projected saves because of the shot volume Pittsburgh can generate. This all makes him a lower-priced DK option for DFS users.

Because of a higher price on FanDuel, Hellebuyck’s value is not nearly as good on that site, per our projections. He is still perfectly acceptable but for DFS players looking to save some cap space, Jake Allen (MTL, $7,500) rates better by both expected fantasy output and dollar value.

Top NHL DFS Stacks Today

VGK1: Eichel-Stone-Stephenson

Mark Stone joined the top line back on October 24th and in the 12 games since that point, center Jack Eichel has averaged over 19 minutes per contest, has put up 14 points, and is a shade shy (3.9) of four shots each night. Their line has generated nearly 45 shots per 60 minutes at 5-on-5, or roughly the same rate as a lower-than average power play. They have been dynamic and tonight they’re in Edmonton. The Oilers are giving up the sixth-most shots per minute at 5-on-5 as the team has been porous defensively. Even worse is that they’re giving up the most power plays per game to the opponent and the penalty kill has been similarly bad. It is a great matchup at all strengths for this Vegas line.

Our Top Stacks tool has VGK1 as one of the best leverage spots on both sites, meaning much lower ownership than potential to be a top-2 stack on the night. They are near the top of the priority list for us among NHL DFS picks.

ANA1: Terry-Henrique-Zegras

On both DraftKings and FanDuel tonight, our early Top Stack projection has this Anaheim trio coming in under 5% owned. We should not worry about high ownership, despite a reasonable price, given that they are on the road, and we have 26 teams on the slate.

In talking about O’Reilly earlier in this article, an omission was made about team defense. Even with Saad back on his wing, along with Josh Leivo, the top Blues line has been roughly average defensively by expected goals against. The Blues also use their second line against top competition at times and they’re even worse defensively. With no Colton Parayko for St. Louis, this isn’t an awful matchup for the Ducks.

This Anaheim trio is generating 2.9 expected goals and 4.6 actual goals per 60 minutes and are perfectly correlated on the power play. For reference tonight, they are projecting for 0.8 fewer DK points than the Pittsburgh top line despite being over $2,000 cheaper. On FanDuel, it’s just 1.4 fewer points for $2,000 less. They are a good low-owned, mid-priced option for DFS players.

Additional stats from Natural Stat Trick

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