NHL DFS Picks Today: Time to Stack the Maple Leafs (April 27)

There are three games on tonight’s DraftKings slate while all four games are available on FanDuel. Given the latter’s lack of DFS options for the NHL tonight, this article will focus more on the three games starting later in the day. Without further ado, let’s dive into the top NHL DFS picks for Saturday, April 27. As always, Stokastic members should double-check the Discord before lock for roster updates.

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NHL DFS Picks Today: Center

John Tavares (TOR vs. BOS)

DraftKings Salary
$5,800
FanDuel Salary
$7,900

After a slow start to the regular season, Tavares made a late charge to post 16 goals, 14 assists and 105 shots over 33 games after the All-Star break. With one goal so far these playoffs, he has 17 goals in 36 games since that break, shooting 14.7% along the way. That conversion rate is much closer to his career with Toronto (13.4%) than the first half of this regular season (7.5%), so he’s regained his typical scoring touch.

That 36-game span has seen him manage 3.2 shots per game with nine DK shot bonuses, so there have been good peripherals, too. In fact, his postseason shot attempt rate of 24.7 per 60 minutes is second on his team, trailing only superstar Auston Matthews by a 4.1% margin.

Down the stretch of the regular season, Toronto started using Tavares’s line more often against opposing top lines, and he often skated against Boston’s top line in Game 3. Tavares’s line carried the play with a 57% shot attempt share and managed a goal. The Leafs may have William Nylander returning to game action tonight, which could shake up their lineup configuration, but Tavares has been shooting and scoring well for nearly three months now, and it is not a bad in-game matchup for him.

Among DK centers priced under $6,000, Tavares leads the way by Stokastic’s fantasy point projections by a whopping 30%, a number nearly as high for centers on FD priced under $8,000. He can be used as a mid-price one-off center or as part of a Toronto tournament stack.


Wyatt Johnston (DAL at VGK)

DraftKings Salary
$5,200
FanDuel Salary
$7,100

Paying attention to the news here will be vital. Dallas had a couple of forwards injured in their last game, so they called up stand-out rookie Mavrik Bourque. Despite all this, Johnston was skating on Dallas’s top line in practice on Friday. That line had 111 minutes together at 5-on-5 in the regular season and produced 46.4 shots, 4.6 expected goals, and 4.9 actual goals per 60 minutes. It isn’t a large sample, but Johnston has been able to find offensive success through many configurations this season, so it’s not altogether surprising.

This center is also 1 of 3 Dallas forwards who averaged at least 18 minutes in ice time over the team’s first two games (18:53). He registered one assist, four shots, and four blocks in those two games.

Going into Vegas, Johnston’s top line is likely to see a lot of Mark Stone’s line at 5-on-5. The duo of Stone and Chandler Stephenson struggled defensively by getting outshot 247-205 in their time together in the regular season, with a goals-against rate around the league average. With Johnston sitting at 27 shot attempts per 60 minutes in the postseason – third-highest rate in the league – he is in a solid matchup to turn that elite rate of shot attempts into points on the scoresheet.

After Tavares, Johnston is the next-highest projected center by fantasy points tonight for those in the same price range. The difference is Johnston’s ownership projections are half of Tavares on FanDuel, and 40% lower (relatively speaking) on DK. He is the pivot option to get away from a chalky Toronto side.  



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NHL DFS Picks Today: Winger

Nikita Kucherov (TB vs. FLA)

DraftKings Salary
$9,100
FanDuel Salary
$10,100

Though he hasn’t had a big game yet in the playoffs, Nikita Kucherov does have an assist in all three games, seven shots, and he has seen his ice time increase with each outing. Tampa Bay is also facing elimination, so he should get as much ice time as he can handle in this contest. That he has just seven shots belies the fact that he is shooting the puck frequently as his 18.6 shot attempts per 60 minutes leads the team.

His problem is that just 35% of his attempts are landing on target, a ratio that was 48.1% during the regular season. He should be closer to 10 shots on goal in three games, rather than seven, and that speaks to the shooting upside he possesses every game, let alone the point production.

In the three games so far this series, Tampa Bay has averaged four power play opportunities per night. Though they have scored just twice on those 12 chances, the Lightning had the top power-play goal rate in the league during the regular season, and Kucherov led the league with 53 power-play points. Florida has generally had a good penalty kill, but giving an elite power play that many opportunities is good news for Kucherov’s DFS upside as his team looks to fight another day.

As expected, Kucherov leads all wingers tonight by fantasy point projections and while his point-per-dollar value isn’t great, it isn’t bad. He is also seventh by ownership projections on DK, ranking fifth on FD. Despite leading point projections, he won’t have heavy ownership for a three-game slate, which makes him a tournament target.  


Jonathan Marchessault (VGK vs. DAL)

DraftKings Salary
$5,900
FanDuel Salary
$8,000

Though having top power-play minutes is always preferable to not, Jonathan Marchessault losing his top PP role to a returning Stone shouldn’t affect him as much as it could other players in the league. Vegas has drawn just three power plays in the team’s two postseason games thus far, and it’s not a big surprise as Vegas drew the fourth-fewest minor penalties per game over the final six weeks of the season while Dallas took the sixth-fewest minor penalties.

Even without that power play time, Marchessault is second on the team by shot attempts per 60 minutes thus far in the postseason, trailing only linemate Jack Eichel. Our winger has two goals, an assist, and five shots in those two outings.

At home this season, Marchessault’s line was excellent offensively with 37.3 shots, 3.1 expected goals and 3.4 actual goals created per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. With Dallas’s injuries and Johnston’s move to the top line, there isn’t as much depth to hold back the Vegas attack as there normally would be, and that helps the matchup for last year’s playoff MVP, too. The drop in ice time without that PP role is a concern but his price on DraftKings has also fallen by $1,000 since the final game of the regular season, so that is being factored into his salary.

The drop in ice time – his skater projection is about a minute lower than the final 20 games of the regular season – is hurting his point projection and his point-per-dollar value. However, he is projected for single-digit ownership on both sites, and, for a 40-goal scorer, that’s appealing for tournaments.


Morgan Geekie (BOS at TOR)

DraftKings Salary
$3,300
FanDuel Salary
$5,300

In Boston’s latest game, Geekie was moved to the second line alongside Brad Marchand. The winger ended up with 13:24 in even-strength ice time, the third-most among their forwards and most of any not on the top line. He is also skating on the same power play unit as his even-strength linemates, so as long as Boston doesn’t give Toronto five (or more) power plays again, he should get past the 16-minute mark as he did in the first two games of the series. He does have a goal and an assist in the three games thus far, so he’s making the most of his increased usage.

Toronto’s penalty kill has been an Achilles’ heel for months now. Going back to the All-Star break, their final 35 games of the regular season saw them rank 22nd by shots against and 24th by goals against per minute while short-handed. The goals against got worse over the final six weeks of the season, and they have allowed five power-play goals in three games to Boston. With Geekie having a power-play role, and, with improved 5-on-5 linemates, he is in a position to succeed offensively.

Among wingers priced under $4,000 on DK tonight, Geekie ranks third by fantasy point projections and has a point-per-$1,000 value of 2.2. That makes him a solid option as a salary-saving flank. Geekie is listed as a center on FanDuel, so users on that site may want to consider James van Riemsdyk (BOS, $3,600) for a cheap winger.


NHL DFS Picks Today: Defender

Noah Hanifin (VGK vs. DAL)

DraftKings Salary
$4,800
FanDuel Salary
$6,200

Noah Hanifin is second among Vegas defensemen in ice time per game thus far in the postseason, and it’s not just because of his top power play role — it’s because he is also second by even-strength ice time per game. He has one goal and two assists but has also posted three blocks. In 21 games in a Vegas uniform, his blocked shots per game is over 14% higher than in Calgary, and the added peripherals are always welcome. Since assuming the top PP role for Vegas, the team is scoring 11.9 goals per 60 minutes with him on the ice, which has turned what was a weakness into a strength.

They may not draw a lot of opportunities, but they’re making the most of the ones they do get, and Hanifin is earning a lot of ice time. Of all defensemen priced lower than $5,000 on DK tonight, Hanifin’s fantasy point projection ranks fourth. He is also projected for single-digit ownership on both sites, even falling near 3% on FD because of his price. With his high usage and top PP role, he is a defender worth considering in all tournament formats.


Aaron Ekblad (FLA at TB)

DraftKings Salary
$3,600
FanDuel Salary
$4,400

As mentioned in the section on Kucherov, Florida is a team that takes, and is taking, a lot of penalties. That means a lot of short-handed usage for Ekblad, who averages over four minutes per game on the penalty kill in the postseason. Though he isn’t typically known for shot blocking, he has seven blocks in those three games with one DK block bonus. If Florida keeps taking penalties as they have, it gives Ekblad plenty of chances to rack up those important peripherals.

He is also averaging 22:39 per game in ice time, adding over a minute per game to what he was skating in the regular season, so his team is in a solid offensive matchup, he should have plenty of chances to rack up blocked shots, and he’s getting more ice time than usual.

Ekblad’s fantasy point projection leads the way on both DK and FD for those priced under $4,000 on the former and $5,000 on the latter. However, his ownership projection is below 3% on both sites, so despite that very good projection, there is not much ownership on him, whichmakes him a valuable target for tournaments.


NHL DFS Picks Today: Goalie

Linus Ullmark (BOS at TOR)

DraftKings Salary
$7,500
FanDuel Salary
$7,800

Linus Ullmark lost Game 2 but still made 31 saves on 34 shots, and that shot volume is important. Thus far in the postseason, Toronto is averaging the most shots per 60 minutes of any Eastern Conference team, leading to Boston goalies facing over 33 shots per game. Volume is good news for Ullmark as he finished the regular season as 1 of 6 regular goalies (with 2000+ minutes) to post a .915 save percentage or better, and that is in the season after he won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goalie.

Toronto has been generating good shot volume, and that helps Ullmark’s DFS upside as long as he doesn’t get blown up (which is rare). Stokastic’s GoalieStats section has Boston’s goalies leading tonight’s slate by projected save total, but they are not at the top of the board for expected goals against. High shot volume can always lead to a blow-up performance, but with Ullmark’s track record, he is worth considering as a mid-priced netminder.

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NHL DFS Top Stacks Today | NHL DFS Picks Today

TOR1: Max Domi – Auston Matthews – Tyler Bertuzzi

Though Matthews has just one goal thus far in the postseason, he has 16 shots in his three games. If Boston keeps allowing him to post over five shots per game, those are going to start turning into goals very fast. That also belies how good his line has been offensively in the postseason as they’ve generated 26 shots, 12 high-danger attempts, and three goals in 32:17 together at 5-on-5. On a 60-minute basis, those are huge totals, and the only thing standing between them and high-end offensive nights is stellar goaltending from Boston.

The note here is to watch for Nylander’s availability. If he returns to the lineup, it will push Bertuzzi to the second power-play unit and remove some special team correlation. Regardless, neither Bertuzzi nor Domi are priced as if they need 18-19 minutes a night with top power play time, so while it’s not ideal, it’s far from a death knell considering how well they’ve played offensively at even strength.

Toronto-1’s top-2 stack probability, per Stokastic’s Top Stacks tool, has this trio has the second-most likely unit to be a top-2 stack on tonight’s slate. They could see high ownership because of a reasonable price, but that reasonable price also allows many different types of stacks, and being able to differentiate easily makes them a tournament target.


FLA2: Carter Verhaeghe – Anton Lundell – Matthew Tkachuk

An injury to Sam Bennett pushed Lundell to the second line, and he responded with his second game in a row with at least one assist. In nearly 125 minutes together at 5-on-5 during the regular season, the Lundell-Tkachuk duo helped Florida create 35.5 shots and 3.8 goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5, so they were very productive offensively. If the Game 3 matchups hold, they’ll see a lot of Tampa Bay’s second line.

That line has had significant defensive struggles thus far in the postseason as Anthony Cirelli and Steven Stamkos have been on the ice for 20 shots and four goals against in just 33 minutes of ice time at 5-on-5. Both Tkachuk and Verhaeghe remain on the top power-play unit, and they are also first and second on the team by shots per minute in the playoffs.

The Top Stacks tool has this Florida trio fifth by top-2 stack probability on both sites tonight. However, they are also expected to have lower ownership rates than that top-2 probability, which gives them positive leverage and an option in any tournament DFS contest tonight.

*Additional stats used for our NHL DFS picks today column from Natural Stat Trick

Michael has been writing about fantasy hockey for over a decade, and has been playing Daily Fantasy for just as long. He has contributed to both the Chicago Tribune and the Boston Herald, has worked for Rogers Sportsnet in Canada and is now in his fifth season with Stokastic. He lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, and can be reached on Twitter @SlimCliffy.

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