It is just a six-game slate for now in the NHL, and that is a small slate to make Awesemo’s NHL DFS picks for this Wednesday. COVID is running through the league, so more postponements and player scratches are possible. Be sure to keep up on news in Awesemo’s Discord. This Power Play article will use Awesemo’s Premium NHL Tools to help dole out the NHL DFS advice to help with building lineups on DraftKings and FanDuel tonight. The Awesemo NHL projections and ownership projections are two of the best tools to utilize when constructing stacks and making the optimal NHL DFS picks. Let’s go position by position and pinpoint some of the top plays and stacks for Wednesday, Dec. 29.
NHL DFS Picks, Tops Stacks & Lineup Projections
Claude Giroux (PHI at SEA) DraftKings – $5,600 | FanDuel – $5,800
The Flyers, like every other team, are currently enduring some COVID issues and with Sean Couturier out, that has pushed Kevin Hayes to the top line. It has also left Claude Giroux as the team’s second-line center. It is likely that Giroux will lead them in ice time, since Hayes typically skates 14-15 minutes when everyone is healthy, with Giroux at 18-19 minutes.
Seattle lost checking winger Brandon Tanev for the year, and he is a big part of the team’s ability to shut down the opponent. Beyond that, the Kraken have been awful of late with the top line off the ice, controlling just 41% of the shot attempts and scoring chances for the month of December. Giroux and his line mates will avoid that matchup and will now get even easier in-game matchups. It is a good spot for them.
With Seattle’s poor goaltending and soft matchups, Giroux is a strong consideration tonight. He is likely best used as part of a line stack with, at least, Cam Atkinson, but keep them in mind; Giroux, for example, is outside Awesemo’s top-10 centers by ownership. There will not be much here this evening.
Elias Pettersson (VAN at ANA) DraftKings – $3,800 | FanDuel – $6,100
Anaheim got some bad news as star center Trevor Zegras is in COVID protocols. It cannot be overstated how big a loss that is. He gives them a second line that is actually competent, and that is not hyperbole: without Zegras as his center, winger Sonny Milano’s on-ice shot share drops from 56.3% to 49.6% and scoring chance share from 58% to 48%. Quite simply, without Zegras in the lineup, Anaheim is a one-line team, and Elias Pettersson will see very little of the Anaheim top line.
A big problem here for DFS is that Pettersson can endure some inconsistent ice time. Since new coach Bruce Boudreau was brought in a little over three weeks ago, Pettersson has been down to 15 minutes and up to 19 minutes. There is no real clear pecking order on this team, and that makes Pettersson harder to use in single-entry contests or cash games.
With that ice time problem out of the way, as mentioned, this is a soft matchup against Anaheim and Pettersson’s line has controlled 56% of the expected goals, scoring 3.5 goals per 60 minutes over the last few weeks. He is fine as a one-off or can be used as part of a line stack. Just beware of his price on FanDuel because he is wildly over-priced there.
Vladimir Tarasenko (STL vs. EDM) DraftKings – $7,300 | FanDuel – $7,600
Robert Thomas is returning tonight for St. Louis, and that gives Vladimir Tarasenko his regular center back. With Thomas as his pivot and Pavel Buchnevich on the other side, as they are lining up tonight, the team is controlling 58% of the shots and 61% of the scoring chances. They have been truly a dominant trio when skating together, and that can only mean good things for Tarasenko, a guy averaging north of three shots per game and on pace for 30 tallies this year.
Over the last month, with Edmonton’s top line off the ice, the Oilers are controlling just 46% of the shots and 44% of the scoring chances. The Tarasenko line rarely matches against opposing top lines, so this looks to be a great matchup for St. Louis’ second line tonight. So good, in fact, that Tarasenko is second on the slate tonight by Awesemo’s projections.
There is a question of ownership here, too. St Louis’ top line should come in much higher owned as they are much cheaper, particularly on DraftKings. But they are in a tougher spot in-game and the Blues’ second line has been great this year, where the top line has not. They also moved Tarasenko/Buchnevich to the top power-play unit as well, so they are in play in tournaments tonight.
Jordan Eberle (SEA vs. PHI) DraftKings – $5,600 | FanDuel – $5,900
As mentioned in the section on Giroux, the Kraken do not send out their top line against top competition. In fact, they often send their top line out against the third and fourth lines of the opposition. With Couturier out of the lineup, the Flyers can run two lines at the most right now, and that leaves Jordan Eberle with some good matchups.
Being united with Jaden Schwartz and Jared McCann has been fortuitous as well: Eberle has five points in six games for the month of December, while his line controls 54% of the shot attempts and 57% of the scoring chances. It may just be a function of getting softer matchups, but as long as they are playing well and scoring, that is all that really matters.
With the reasonable prices across the Seattle forwards, there may be some high ownership here, as they are priced more as a filler stack and not a top line. That pricing is accurate, but it is also a good line in a good spot. Eberle is fine as a one-off in tournaments because he is a multi-point threat but using him as part of a line stack makes more sense given the perfect power-play correlation.
J.J.Peterka (BUF vs. NJ) DraftKings – $2,500 | FanDuel – $3,000
The NHL has instituted, more or less, the same COVID rules as last year, which allows teams to have a taxi squad of AHL players with the NHL roster at all times. That will likely lead to more prospects getting some games in over the next couple of months at least. That starts tonight with J.J. Peterka coming into the lineup for Buffalo, and straight to the top line with Tage Thompson.
For those unfamiliar with Peterka, people were kind of split on him as a prospect. He was playing in the German men’s league, which is not as highly scouted as Junior hockey, and his best showings came at the World Juniors, skating with now-Senators center Tim Stuetzle. It was why he fell to the second round of the draft, even if many had him as a first-round talent. It seems those people may have been right, as he has 20 points in 23 games as a 19-year-old in the AHL this year, just a wonderful start to his North American career. It should be noted his early skills seems to be on-ice vision and patience, meaning he may be a better distributor than scorer at this point of his career.
All that said, he is skating on the top line and is min-priced at home to a team that is no higher than 20th by shot, expected goal, and scoring chance share over the last month. He is probably best used in a line stack with Thompson and Alex Tuch, but at his price, he does not need to do much to be worth it as a one-off. Just beware of ownership as a line, as they have negative leverage by Awesemo’s Top Stacks Tool, likely because they are so cheap.
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Jacob Trouba (NYR at FLA) DraftKings – $5,800 | FanDuel – $5,600
Roman Josi is on the COVID list, and with the other cancellations and injuries, there are a lot of top-end defensemen missing tonight. For reference, Mark Giordano is the fifth-most expensive blue liner tonight and he has eight points in 24 games. Dougie Hamilton, the most expensive rearguard, has no goals and five assists in 11 games since Jack Hughes’ return and seen his shot rate drop nearly a half-shot per game. The blue line is wide open, and Jacob Trouba is on pace for 40 points, and over two blocks and two shots per game. They are facing a high-paced Florida team, so his peripherals should tick up even more. For those wanting to avoid some of the higher-priced blue liners tonight, Trouba slots in nicely in the middle of the pack.
Mattias Ekholm (NSH at WSH) DraftKings – $3,400 | FanDuel – $3,900
With Josi out of the lineup, it is inevitable that Mattias Ekholm sees a huge ice time increase. Last year, for example, Josi had a stretch where he missed seven games and Ekholm went from under 23 minutes to over 25 minutes in ice time. Whether he gets prime power play minutes remains to be seen, but any defenseman earning 25 minutes a night requires attention. The fact that he is priced where he is because of his production this year means he is one of the better values on the slate tonight for cheap defensemen, and he is third in projections for any blue liner under $4,000 on DraftKings tonight.
Igor Shesterkin (NYR at FLA) DraftKings – $7,100 FanDuel – $8,200
Arguably the best goalie in the world returns tonight, as Igor Shesterkin has missed over three weeks due to injury. It is not outrageous to say he is that good, either, as since stepping into the league in 2019-20, a span of 65 games for him, he leads all goalies in five-on-five high-danger save percentage. That is a good indicator of his talent, and the Panthers are one of the shot-happiest teams in the league. An elite goalie facing a high volume of shots is what to look for in a tournament netminder.
Top NHL DFS Stacks
STL2: Thomas – Tarasenko – Buchnevich
One problem with this trio this year has been the power play, as Buchnevich and Tarasenko have often been split across two units. They have been united on the top power play, though, and that gives them more value than they had prior. By Awesemo’s Lineup Builder, St. Louis’ second line projects for more points than any other second line on the slate, meaning they are more of a top line, and that is where they are priced. The entire Blues top six is in play, but the Top Stacks Tool‘s lower-owned option is the best play.
SEA1: McCann – Eberle – Schwartz
With Couturier not playing tonight for the Flyers and the Kraken sending out their top line against depth competition, this is a great matchup for the Seattle top trio. So good, in fact, that they project for slightly more points than the Florida top line and are cheaper. They are fine to load up as a mid-tier line that allows access to more expensive defensemen.
*Additional stats from Natural Stat Trick
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