NHL DFS Picks Today: William Nylander Value! (April 30)

There are four games on this NHL DFS playoff slate, and there are a couple of key lineup spots to watch. Toronto’s Auston Matthews left Game 4 and has been battling an illness while Winnipeg is likely to make changes to the lineup after getting throttled defensively for four straight outings. Before we get to our NHL DFS picks today, Stokastic members are strongly encouraged to double-check the Discord before lock for roster updates.

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NHL DFS Picks Today: Center

J.T. Miller (VAN vs. NSH)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

Miller is leading Vancouver forwards this postseason with 20:50 per game in ice time, and though his team has largely had a tough time generating much offense against Nashville, that hasn’t been the case with him on the ice: through four games, his line is generating 3.9 expected goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5, which is more than double the rate than when his line is on the bench. They have also scored two of Vancouver’s six goals at that strength while Miller has also figured in on both of their power play goals. His line was similarly excellent at 5-on-5 during the regular season, creating 3.7 expected goals and 5.0 actual goals per 60 minutes, so this is just a continuation of that.

With the Canucks at home, they can dictate matchups. In the two home games earlier in the series, Miller’s line was sent out more often against Nashville’s fourth line (over eight minutes head-to-head) than Nashville’s first line (5:18 head-to-head). Head coach Rick Tocchet realizes that this has been his best offensive line so he’s giving them every advantage possible to create scoring chances. That is great news for Miller and his upside tonight as his team looks to advance to the next round.  

If Matthews plays, he and Nathan MacKinnon are in a center tier of their own by price and projection. However, the top fantasy point projection on both DK and FD after those two is Miller. He also has ownership projections under 10% on both sites, so he and his line mates make a nice pivot away from Colorado.  

Colton Sissons (NSH at VAN)

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All three members of Nashville’s top line are averaging over 20 minutes a game this series. Eight of their other forwards are skating under 14:45 per game. The one remainder is Sissons, who sits at 16:52 per appearance and the most of any non-top line forward. Though he has just one goal in the four games, he has seven shots and was one inch away from an empty-net goal in Game 4 that would have tied the series 2-2. He lost his top power play role late in the regular season, but Nashville has been giving their second power play unit roughly 35% of the power play time. That means Sissons is still getting some special team usage, even if Vancouver’s penalty kill is generally excellent.

There are two key reasons to lean to Sissons tonight, with the first being the opposing goalie. Starting netminder Thatcher Demko is injured and that means one of Vancouver’s backups is in net. While they played very well in Games 2 and 3, they combined for an .898 save percentage in the regular season where Demko was just nominated for the Vezina Trophy as goalie of the year.

The second reason is Sissons is doing a great job getting to the net this postseason with an individual expected goals rate of 1.22 per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. That mark is 32.6% higher than the next-closest Nashville forward so even if Sissons doesn’t have a high shot rate, the shots he does take are very high quality due to his proximity to the net.

Among centers priced under $3,500 on DK and $5,000 on FD, Sissons ranks third by fantasy point projection. He also has single-digit ownership projections, including 3% on DK, so he’s perfectly suitable as a cheap one-off center option tonight.


NHL DFS Picks Today: Winger

William Nylander (TOR at BOS)

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FanDuel Salary

There is a lot of doom-and-gloom around Toronto and after their Game 4 effort, it’s hard to argue with it. All the same, Nylander returned to the lineup after missing Toronto’s first three postseason contests, which is a big boost to the lineup. With Matthews leaving that game, Nylander skated a game-high 22:24. He tied for the team lead with eight shot attempts and three shots on goal, too. Considering he was dropped into the middle of a playoff series after not playing in 10 days, and was largely away from the team’s top stars by skating on the third line, it is hard to be too upset with that performance. This is a guy with back-to-back 40-goal seasons and has had the chance to knock some rust off.

Nylander is expected to line up with John Tavares and there was both good and bad to that duo at 5-on-5 in the regular season. The good is that they created 3.2 expected goals and 15.5 high-danger attempts every 60 minutes, which are excellent numbers. The bad is that they actually scored just 2.5 goals per 60 minutes, which is about the league average. That is due to 7.1% shooting, so if they can turn that low percentage around, there is a lot of upside for Nylander, especially considering his likely ice time levels.

Stokastic’s DK fantasy point projections have Nylander with a better point-per-dollar value than other wingers in his price range like Jake Guentzel and Mikko Rantanen. He also has the highest point projection for any winger priced under $9,000 on FD, so he’s fine to use as a one-off winger on either site.

Artturi Lehkonen (COL at WPG)

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FanDuel Salary

On a 60-minute basis, Lehkonen leads Colorado skaters by both points and expected goals. He is second in shot rate, trailing line mate Casey Mittelstadt, and all this has led to four goals and three assists in four postseason games. He has been legitimately excellent offensively for Colorado and he gets all-important top power play time, too; the penalty kill was a big problem for Winnipeg in the regular season as they ranked 21st by goals against per minute, and there was a sizable gap between 20th-ranked Seattle and Winnipeg. That has continued in the postseason as the Jets have allowed six power play goals against in their four games, and Lehkonen has figured in on two of the five scored with him on the ice.

Lehkonen’s appeal goes beyond the power play, though. At 5-on-5, his line with Mittelstadt has been shredding Winnipeg’s defense with 36 shots, 15 high-danger attempts, and four goals in fewer than 45 minutes of ice time. They will mostly avoid Winnipeg’s shutdown line and that gives them easier matchups than they otherwise might have if they weren’t on the road. Our winger is earning over 20 minutes a game thanks to his second line/top power play usage, and with the way his line is playing at both strengths, he has a great chance to keep his point production going.

Ownership projections on both DK and FD have Lehkonen between 8-9% on both sites. He may come in a littler higher in single-entry contests, but it’s the top line that usually draws heavy ownership, and his status as the lone power play option from his line make him a mid-priced flank to consider tonight.

James van Riemsdyk (BOS vs. TOR)

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After being inserted into the lineup in Game 3, van Riemsdyk has added a much-needed depth scoring dimension to Boston’s lineup. He has two shots in each of his two games, scored in Game 4, and ripped a shot off the post in Game 3. In the regular season, he was third among Boston forwards by individual expected goals per 60 minutes and led them by high-danger attempts per 60 minutes. He turns 35 years old later this week so maybe his shooting talent is falling off – he shot just 4.2% at 5-on-5 in the regular season – but he is still creating a lot of chances in the limited time he’s given. That ice time includes a 45.4% share of the power play time, which is fourth among Boston forwards.

That power play time is crucial here because – as often stated in this column – Toronto’s penalty kill has been a big issue for them for months. From January 1st onward, the Leafs ranked 21st by shots against and 27th by goals against per minute while short-handed. That has persisted in the playoffs as Toronto has given up six power play goals against, tied for the second-most of the 16 postseason teams. Even if he earns just 11-12 minutes, van Riemsdyk is in a good spot to create offensively.

Of all wingers priced under $3,500 on DK and $4,000 on FD, van Riemsdyk ranks fourth and first, respectively, by fantasy point projections tonight. He won’t carry much ownership and gets a good power play spot to get on the scoresheet.

NHL DFS Picks Today: Defender

Cale Makar (COL at WPG)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

It has been an unbelievable postseason for Makar as his four games have resulted in two goals, six assists, 14 shots, and 10 blocks. He is 1 of 7 defensemen earning at least 25 minutes a game in the playoffs, and he’s done that without an overtime game yet. Our defender is third among all blue liners by shots per minute and fourth by expected goals. Like Lehkonen, the power play is a big part of his upside as half his points have come with the man advantage. If Colorado’s offense keeps rolling as it has through the first four games, Makar is likely to be involved, and his ability to put up very good peripheral production, partly thanks to high usage, insulates him in case he doesn’t manage much raw point production.  

Makar’s fantasy point projections tonight ranks second on DK and first on FD as he and Roman Josi are in a tier of their own. If Winnipeg doesn’t improve their defense considerably from the first four games, our blue liner has a very good opportunity to stuff the stat sheet once again.

Alex Romanov (NYI at CAR)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

With 12 blocks, six shots, and one assist, Romanov has been productive by averaging 8.2 DK fantasy points per game. Eight of those blocks came in one game, so there has been inconsistency in his DFS performances, but he’s also averaging the second-most ice time of any of New York’s defensemen. That ice time is important because he managed 29 DK block bonuses in 81 regular season appearances, doing so with 20:50 per game in ice time. That has gone up in the playoffs, even excluding the team’s double-overtime game, so this is a defenseman with increased usage facing a Carolina team that is consistently one of the highest shot volume teams in the league. That lends itself to a good chance of racking up blocked shots.

Stokastic’s ownership projections have Romanov at 2% or less on both sites, and given his high usage and shot-blocking potential, that is a friendly ownership rate for this defender. He is more valuable on DK than FD because of the blocked shots, but he is fine to use as a cheap rearguard on either site.

NHL DFS Picks Today: Goalie

Semyon Varlamov (NYI at CAR)

DraftKings Salary
FanDuel Salary

The Islanders are facing elimination but it’s not due to Varlamov’s play: in three playoff starts (four appearances), he has a .930 save percentage and that ranks third among playoff goalies with at least three starts. It is a small sample, but he tied for second by save percentage in the regular season (minimum of 25 starts) and is eighth in the league over the last three years (minimum of 75 starts). As with Romanov and his blocked shots, Varlamov stands a good chance of seeing a lot of volume against Carolina, and he faced over 32 shots per 60 minutes in these three playoff starts. If the Islanders extend this series another game, it is likely because Varlamov turns in another very good performance.

As expected, Varlamov leads Stoakstic’s GoalieStats section by projected save total tonight. He is second by expected goals allowed, so there is downside here if he gets blown up early, but there is a real chance he racks up saves in the team’s most important game of the season. That makes him an option for DFS players in need of a cheap goalie.

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NHL DFS Top Stacks Today | NHL DFS Picks Today

COL1: Valeri Nichushkin – Nathan MacKinnon – Mikko Rantanen

The question of whether to play this Colorado line faces DFS players once again. They are, by far, the most expensive line on the board but they have also combined for 8 goals, 11 assists, and 43 shots in four games. As with Makar and Lehkonen mentioned earlier, a lot of this production is due to the power play as over half (10/19) of those points have been with the man advantage. While that power play is riding hot, shooting over 25% with this trio on the ice, they have also generated a preposterous 40 shot attempts in under 16 minutes of ice time. They are creating at will against a Winnipeg penalty kill that struggled in the regular season, and all three members are averaging over 22 minutes a game. High usage at all strengths, including a great power play matchup, makes this trio the top line tonight.  

Stokastic’s Top Stacks tool has Colorado as the most likely line to be a top-2 stack tonight, and it’s nowhere close as they exceed 50% on DK and are just shy of 47% on FD. They are very expensive, and that makes roster construction difficult, but they are clearly the best line on tonight’s four-game slate.

CAR3: Jordan Martinook – Jordan Staal – Seth Jarvis

One change Carolina made this series, even with them on the verge of advancing to the second round, was moving Jarvis back down to the Staal line. The scoring winger made a big difference there in the regular season as this trio scored 2.6 goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 in nearly 300 minutes together, a number that fell to 1.8 without Jarvis.

Though they are listed as the third line, this has really been the second line for Carolina as the three members are 4th, 5th, and 6th by even strength ice time per game in the playoffs. Martinook had 12 shots in their four appearances while Jarvis managed two goals and two assists. They don’t have power play correlation, but they are cheap, had success in the regular season, and are getting good usage against the Islanders. Just watch for warmups because Martinook was on a different line at practice on Monday.

The Top Stacks tool has this trio with negative leverage on both DK and FD tonight, but they are also expected to have lower ownership than other third lines in their price range like those from Vancouver and Winnipeg. For DFS players looking to use an expensive stack elsewhere, this Carolina trio is a filler stack to consider.

*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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