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NHL DFS Picks Today: Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point Worth Stacking; Timo Meier Producing Shots on Goal

Michael Clifford

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NHL FanDuel picks for Stanley Cup Game 5 daily fantasy hockey lineups. Awesemo's NHL DFS cheat sheet + projections | Nikita Kucherov 7/7/21.

It is a 13-game slate tonight, giving us a tremendous number of options for our NHL DFS picks on DraftKings and FanDuel. Save for Connor McDavid and the Oilers, there are high-end options all over the place to sift through. We will look for both high-end (Timo Meier) and lower-priced (Vladislav Gavrikov) options tonight, balancing ownership and projection. As always, Stokastic subscribers should check our members-only Discord for updated lineup/injury information, especially at warmups.

Let’s get to the NHL DFS picks.

NHL DFS Picks, Top Stacks, Lineup Optimizer Plays

Center

Patrice Bergeron (BOS vs. PHI): DraftKings – $7,300 | FanDuel – $8,000

Despite some key injuries early in the season around him, Patrice Bergeron has been extremely productive with eight goals and 15 points in 16 games. His shots-per-game mark has dropped to 3.25 but a big reason for that is missing the net an unusual amount: just 52.8% of his 5-on-5 shot attempts have hit the net compared to 66.1% over the prior three seasons. Once that normalizes, his shots per game should only rise.

Boston has reunited their old top line, including David Pastrnak, and they’ve been elite for years now: 4.3 goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 in their last 700-plus minutes together. That is a top-tier scoring rate for any forward trio and is one reason that Bergeron is appealing tonight. The other is facing a Philadelphia top line giving up 3.4 expected goals and 4.7 actual goals against per 60 minutes this year. This all brings Bergeron to sixth in our projections among centers for this 13-gamer.

It is a huge 13-game slate but given the matchup, we should still expect reasonable ownership on the Boston captain and his line mates. All the same, their combined production and correlation at all offensive strengths means they’re high on the priority list tonight in NHL DFS, whether as a Bergeron one-off or as a trio.

Pierre-Luc Dubois (WPG vs. ANA): DraftKings – $5,100 | FanDuel – $6,800

Following a career-high 28 goals a season ago, Pierre-Luc Dubois is looking to improve on that mark with seven goals in 14 games so far this season. He is shooting 16.3% at all strengths, which is a bit high, but he did shoot 15.5% in 2018-19 so it’s not completely unreasonable. More importantly, he is averaging career-best shot attempt rates both at 5-on-5 and on the power play which is pushing him over three shots per contest. That is a good peripheral floor to work with.

The faceoff with Anaheim is a big part of Dubois’s recommendation here. The Ducks are last by expected goals against this year and 31st by actual goals against. They are arguably the worst defensive team in hockey and the Jets should take advantage of that. On the flipside, all their top guys will carry heavy ownership due to reasonable pricing and a soft home matchup.

With Dubois being the only player on his line to also skate on the top PP unit, he can be used by himself as a one-off for tournaments tonight. Using his entire line on, particularly on DraftKings, could be perilous, though, as we are expecting near double-digit ownership among NHL DFS picks.

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Winger

Timo Meier (SJS vs. DET): DraftKings – $7,500 | FanDuel – $8,400

The floodgates have opened for Timo Meier, who went goal-less through the team’s first nine games despite averaging 4.7 shots on goal per game. He popped his first goal of the year on October 27th and now has eight goals in his last nine games. Timo Meier cannot maintain that pace but similar to Dubois, he is also shooting a lot: 47 shots in that nine-game stretch, being top-5 in the league in shot attempts per minute. This is just a very shot-happy, top-end scoring winger.

Adding Kevin Labanc to the top line has been a boon all around as they have produced 3.3 expected goals and 5.0 actual goals per 60 minutes, outshooting the opposition by nearly a 2:1 margin. Those minutes include road games in Dallas, Minnesota, and Vegas, so it’s not a product of a soft schedule. They are legitimately playing very well.

Tonight, they get a Detroit team that boasts a weak second line featuring Andrew Copp and Dominik Kubalik. It provides Meier with a very good in-game matchup that he can take advantage of. His shot volume means he’s high on our list for one-off wing options tonight, though he can be used in an NHL DFS tournament stack given the correlation with Tomas Hertl on the power play.

Chris Kreider (NYR at SEA): DraftKings – $6,300 | FanDuel – $7,000

Much like Meier, Chris Kreider had a bad shooting-percentage start to his year. He had two goals in the team’s first eight games, with both tallies coming on the same night. He was shooting just over 8%, a massive drop from the 18.6% he managed in the prior three seasons. His last nine games have been a different story as he has five goals and 10 points, averaging four shots per game, and shooting 13.9%. Even without his conversion rate fully rebounding, his pace in this sample is for over 40 goals. That high shot rate is a big part of his fantasy value.

Seattle typically uses the Alex Wennberg line in a shutdown role, and they haven’t been particularly good defensively this year, sporting an expected goals against rate of 2.9 per 60 minutes. They have gotten elite goaltending behind them to the tune of a .942 save percentage and once that regresses, their actual goals-against numbers will suffer.

Among wingers priced under $6,500 tonight, Kreider comes in fourth by our projections, providing good value. Being on the road on such a large slate means low ownership, so Kreider can be used as a one-off or part of a line stack in tournaments.

Mike Hoffman (MTL at CBJ): DraftKings – $3,400 | FanDuel – $4,800

Mike Hoffman replaced Evgenii Dadonov on the Montreal power play last game and that’s a plus for his fantasy value. The top Montreal PP unit has been much better than it’s been in years since adding Kirby Dach, scoring 9.7 goals per 60 minutes. They are shooting 21%, and that’s a bit high, but all the injuries to the Columbus blue line have taken a couple of key PK defensemen out of the lineup and that should only help Montreal here.

As with almost all Canadiens forwards, ice time can be an issue. Hoffman is averaging 14:28 in the month of November, which is actually an increase from October. However, his shot rate per minute has also increased significantly and he’s shooting roughly as much as Cole Caufield has been. Despite the mediocre ice time, Hoffman is averaging over three shots per game this month.

With his depressed price, ice time isn’t as much of a concern for us. A bigger point to make is that Columbus was one of the worst defensive teams in the league before all these injuries hit and it should only make things worse. Hoffman makes a nice salary-saving one-off tonight, and he projects very well among cheap wingers tonight (second among all flanks priced under $3,500 on DK).

For a less expensive option on FanDuel, our projections recommend Brandon Saad (STL, $3,800) at home against Washington.

Defense

Brent Burns (CAR vs. COL): DraftKings – $6,500 | FanDuel – $7,000

On the topic of injuries, Colorado is in Carolina tonight. They lost Nazem Kadri to free agency and still have Valeri Nichushkin and Gabriel Landeskog on the shelf. That is their entire second line, which could be a first line on many teams. They are also without defensemen Bowen Byram and Samuel Girard, taking their entire second pair out of the equation. All these losses have made Colorado vulnerable as they are sporting an expected goals against rate at 5-on-5 similar to teams like Buffalo and St. Louis. Getting .950 goaltending has papered a lot of issues.

Colorado’s penalty kill has also suffered as they’re allowing the fourth-most goals per minute when down a man. That is where Brent Burns can make some headway as he’s fourth among blue liners in shot rate when his team is on the man advantage. Carolina’s top PP unit is generating a massive 11 expected goals per 60 minutes, scoring 10.4 actual goals. Burns should see low single-digit ownership among NHL DFS picks and he’s a tournament option for DFS players tonight.

Vladislav Gavrikov (CBJ vs. MTL): DraftKings – $3,900 | FanDuel – $4,300

The aforementioned injuries to the Columbus blue line are why we see Vladislav Gavrikov listed here. He has averaged over 25 minutes in the three games since the problems started piling up and skated over 28 minutes in their last game. He is just shy of two blocks per game on the year and that should only rise as he starts earning more ice time.

Of all defensemen priced $4,000 or less tonight on DK, we have Gavrikov second in total projections, a function of the matchup and his expected time on ice. He is starting to get a bit expensive but his blocked-shot potential with his minutes is too great to simply ignore. He is not a punt option tonight, but he’s also still reasonably priced for his expected production.

For a defenseman on FanDuel that does not necessarily require peripherals to succeed, Brett Pesce (CAR, $4,000) projects well for his price against Colorado.

Goalie

Juuse Saros (NSH vs. NYI): DraftKings – $7,000 | FanDuel – $7,800

It feels like a mispricing on Juuse Saros on DraftKings as he’s not been under $7,300 in any game this year and has been at least $7,600 in every home game. Even discounting the low cost, Saros grades out fourth by our projections tonight on both DK and FD tonight. His price gives him the best value of any goalie on the DraftKings slate and seventh over on FanDuel. The Islanders are a mid-pack team by shot rate at 5-on-5 so he could even see a good amount of volume in this matchup. He is at-or-near the top of the list for netminders on this 13-gamer.

Top NHL DFS Stacks Today

TB1: Kucherov-Point-Hagel

On such a large slate, ownership for many top lines is not a concern due to diluted lineups and high cost. Tampa’s top line strikes a balance here as our Top Stacks tool has this trio with low single-digit ownership in a home matchup against Calgary. They are also projected eighth for top-2 stack percentage among NHL DFS picks on both sites as well, giving them good leverage.

The Flames are one of the most penalized teams in the league, giving four power plays per game to the opponent. The Lightning are drawing the most power plays per game of any team, so they could get a lot of opportunities here tonight. This line will also face off against the Nazem Kadri trio a lot at 5-on-5, and they have been trading chances all season, making them ineffective defensively. This Tampa line requires attention tonight among the high-priced options.

ANA1: Terry-Zegras-Henrique

There will be a lot of ownership on the Winnipeg side of this game, but we are showing considerably less ownership on the Anaheim top line, per our Top Stacks tool. This trio has been dynamic dating back to last year, generating 3.1 expected goals and 4.1 actual goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 (in roughly 85 minutes together). Trevor Zegras has good chemistry, as evidenced by his line numbers, with both Troy Terry and Adam Henrique in much larger samples so we should have belief in this threesome’s ability to score.

As is always the case when facing the Jets, the biggest problem is goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, who looks to be turning in another Vezina-caliber season. However, Zegras and co. will match often against a Winnipeg second line that, like the Flames second line we just mentioned, has been trading chances back and forth this season. With low ownership expected here, Anaheim’s top line should be offered some consideration in tournaments.

*Additional data from Natural Stat Trick

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