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NHL DFS Picks Today: Steven Stamkos and a Pittsburgh Penguins Stack

Michael Clifford

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NHL DFS Picks Today: Steven Stamkos and a Pittsburgh Penguins Stack

It’s a short four-game slate tonight but there are lots of top-end options to consider for our NHL DFS picks. Even with just eight teams, we have Steven Stamkos, Auston Matthews, Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Kirill Kaprizov, and arguably the top line in the NHL right now emanating from Dallas. Let’s dig into some of these high-priced skaters as well as the cheaper end of the spectrum. Stokastic subscribers are encouraged to check the members-only Discord for lineup/injury information that leaks through the day.

Let’s dig in.

NHL DFS Picks Today, Top Stacks, Lineup Optimizer Plays

Center

John Tavares (TOR vs. PIT): DraftKings – $7,000 | FanDuel – $8,500

Despite John Tavares starting to get up there in years, he is still proving a valuable DFS option. He has eight goals and seven assists in 14 games, pushing him just over the point-per-game mark. How he’s getting those goals matters a lot for this matchup: Tavares has scored five of eight goals on the power play. He is managing 30.8 shot attempts per 60 minutes with the man advantage, a five-year high for him. Among all regularly-used power-play forwards across the league, that is an 85th percentile mark in the first month of the 2022-23 campaign.

Pittsburgh visiting tonight brings questions about their penalty kill. The Penguins are 27th by shots allowed per 60 minutes when down a man and are 23rd by goals against as a result. The road team has given up 11 PP goals against in 13 games this year, a season after giving up just 33 in 82 contests. The PK has fallen apart, and Tavares stands to benefit.

Other than the PK, Tavares’s line will face off against a second line from the Penguins that has been average defensively on the season. He is fine as a one-off because of that PP prowess or used in conjunction with his line mates.


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Matty Beniers (SEA vs. MIN): DraftKings – $4,400 | FanDuel – $5,600

Matty Beniers has started his rookie season with a solid nine points in 14 games. That isn’t elite production – a little over 50 points in a full season – but he doesn’t carry a high price tag, either. His biggest issue is a lack of shooting, as he ranks near the bottom of Seattle’s forwards in shot rate per minute but at his price, he doesn’t need a high peripheral floor in tournaments.

The draw here is the matchup with Minnesota. Seattle often sends the Beniers line against the third line from the opposition. With injuries to Ryan Hartman and Brandon Duhaime, added to under-performance from some younger players, Minnesota’s depth has had a poor start to the season. Overall, with the Wild’s top two lines off the ice, they are allowing 3.3 expected goals against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. Conversely, the Beniers line controls over 52% of the expected goal share when they’re on the ice.

Given the lack of shooting, using Beniers in a stack with his line mates is preferred here. Just beware of ownership as our early Top Stacks run has the Beniers line in the high single-digit range. Regardless, their 5-on-5 matchup is very good and they should be given consideration. Even though Seattle is lacking in the win column, they make for great targets for NHL DFS picks.

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Winger

Steven Stamkos (TBL at WSH): DraftKings – $8,200 | FanDuel – $9,400

It has been a tough stretch of late for Steven Stamkos, who has gone eight straight games without a goal. There would be concern if he weren’t shooting, but that isn’t the case: 30 shots on goal in that stretch. In those eight contests, his shot rate per minute has declined from earlier in the year but is still 85th percentile in the league. That he’s still skating over 20 minutes a night in those goal-less games is a very good sign.

There are two positives to the matchup tonight for Stamkos. He will see a lot of the Alex Ovechkin line for Washington at 5-on-5 and that line has been average-at-best defensively, allowing 2.6 expected goals against per 60 minutes. Washington’s penalty kill has not been great, either, ranking in the middle of the league by most metrics. Being average defensively against a premier goal scorer like Stamkos is good for our target tonight.

How to use Stamkos in tournaments is another question. He does not correlate on the power play with his line mates so a one-off is perfectly acceptable here. However, his center – Nick Paul – has skated over 17 minutes in five of six recent games, the lone miss being a game where he left early due to injury. Using them in a duo is another avenue to take, given Paul’s ice time.

Stamkos is listed as a center on FanDuel, so an expensive winger to consider there is Alex Ovechkin (WSH, $7,800), who always brings value in NHL DFS. Tampa Bay’s penalty kill has struggled at times, John Carlson could be returning for Washington, and Ovechkin is second in value for high-priced flanks by our projections.

Rickard Rakell (PIT at TOR): DraftKings – $4,800 | $6,100

When healthy, Rickard Rakell is a winger who can flirt with 30 goals and three shots per game over the course of a full season (he has reached 30 goals twice and managed 2.9 shots per game from 2017-20). Thus far in 2022-23, Rakell is pacing for 31 goals and is averaging 3.6 shots each time out.

Now that the Penguins have their top guys back, Rakell has seen an ice-time drop but he still leads the Penguins in shot rate per minute in four games this month. That is important when facing off against Toronto’s second line, as he is tonight. That line is allowing over 35 shots and 4.0 expected goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 – both well below average – as rookie Nick Robertson makes them more high-event. Rakell might not get prime PP minutes but he’s getting a prime matchup at even strength.

The recent drop in ice time will hurt Rakell’s overall projection but he still stands to succeed in a positive matchup. Our first ownership run has him around 5-6% on DraftKings and a bit lower on FanDuel. He is a low-owned option for us tonight in a game that features a 6.5 goal total.

Matej Blumel (DAL vs. SJS): DraftKings – $2,500

Dallas is starting rookie Matej Blumel on the second line tonight with Tyler Seguin and Mason Marchment. There has been a rotating cast of third wheels on that line and an injury to Denis Gurianov has forced the team to recall Blumel from the AHL to make his NHL debut.

If Blumel is an unfamiliar name, it’s because he’s a fourth-round pick from 2019 that has just nine professional games – all in the AHL this season – in North America. He had a great start to the minor-league campaign, though, with 11 points in nine games while averaging 3.6 shots per game. Reports from Stars training camp in September stated the team thought he had an excellent showing but a deep veteran team – combined with good showings from other young players – meant Blumel was destined for the AHL. All the same, he has kept up that strong play and is now being rewarded for it.

The appeal tonight is obviously the price as he’s the stone minimum. San Jose is playing their second game in as many nights and Dallas’s second line has been good offensively. He is a nice salary-saver for DFS players.

Blumel is not in the FanDuel player pool, so another cheap wing option is Pierre Engvall (TOR, $3,700). He gets a good matchup against a third line from Pittsburgh that has struggled defensively. Let’s shift gears and take a look at some defenseman options for the NHL DFS picks.

Defense

Morgan Rielly (TOR vs. PIT): DraftKings – $4,800 | $5,600

Morgan Rielly does not have a goal yet this year even if he’s managing a pace of nearly 60 assists in a full season. He is shooting less per minute at 5-on-5 as he ever has and that had led to Rielly averaging his lowest shots per game since his rookie season. Those issues are reflected in his price, though, as he’s roughly $2,000 cheaper on DK than he was at times last season.

Like Tavares, it’s the power-play matchup that draws us to Rielly here. Toronto’s top PP unit is generating over 12 expected goals and 13 actual goals per 60 minutes with the man advantage. The lack of peripherals means Rielly is not dependable for cash games but that is the same thing that makes him appealing for tournaments.

Matt Dumba (MIN at SEA): DraftKings – $3,300 | FanDuel – $4,300

Scoring in his last time out, Matt Dumba is starting to turn around his shooting woes. He had just 16 shot attempts at 5-on-5 in his first seven games with nearly half of those coming in that early-season 13-goal game against Los Angeles. He has 21 shot attempts in his last six games with 3-plus attempts in three straight contests. He is starting to look more like the blue liner he was last year when he paced for double-digit goals in a full campaign.

By our projections tonight, Dumba is fourth on DK for blue liners priced under $4,000 and fourth on FD for the same players priced under $4,500. He has skated at least 21 minutes in three of his last four contests and has reached the DK block bonus on four occasions this season. He is one of our top cheap options for rearguards.

Goalie

Jake Oettinger (DAL vs. SJS): DraftKings – $8,100 | FanDuel – $8,400

It is always difficult relying on a goalie returning from injury in NHL DFS, but Jake Oettinger gets a bad San Jose team that is playing its second game in as many nights. He leads our projections on both sites tonight by a comfortable margin and is even priced down a bit on DK because of that return from injury.

Though Oettinger has just 84 career games, he’s shown himself to be a top goalie in the league. Among all regular starters over the last three seasons, he trails only Igor Shesterkin, Ilya Sorokin, and Ville Husso in high-danger save percentage at 5-on-5, one indicator of goalie talent. Dallas has done a good job of limiting dangerous shots, too, as he’s faced the sixth-fewest high-danger shots per minute. Oettinger stands a good chance to limit the goals against tonight against a poor offensive team like San Jose.

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PIT1: Guentzel-Crosby-Rust

In 65 minutes together this season, Pittsburgh’s top trio has been elite offensively, generating over 4.0 expected goals and 5.4 actual goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel have been roughly as productive with or without Bryan Rust, so that top line appears to be one of the most proficient in the league regardless of who is on the right wing. The Penguins have been average this season, but still carry good stacking value in NHL DFS.

Pittsburgh will face Toronto’s AHL goalie Erik Kallgren tonight. The 26-year-old netminder has a save percentage under .890 in 20 NHL games with a high-danger save percentage under .800. His one full AHL season saw him sit at .904 overall. This may not be a very good goalie that the Penguins are facing and their leverage on the Top Stacks tool leads the way on DK tonight (and is double-digits on FD as well).

DAL3: Benn-Johnston-Dellandrea

On a short slate, looking deeper into lineups is a necessity. This Dallas third line has generated 3.4 expected goals and 5.4 actual goals per 60 minutes in their 70-ish minutes together. They should see a lot of middle-six minute from the Sharks and neither of their second or third lines have been even average defensively this season. Jamie Benn also gets top power-play minutes so there is an added bonus here. Stacking all three together is not a necessity but adding Benn with one of his line mates gets cheap, low-owned options helps pay up for the top spots tonight.

*Additional Stats from Natural Stat Trick

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