DraftKings & FanDuel NHL DFS Picks: We have ourselves a nice five-game slate on the docket tonight, which narrows our focus for NHL DFS picks but also brings ownership concerns into the mix. There won’t be any Vegas Golden Knights players listed here because going into New York to face the Rangers is arguably the best road matchup in hockey right now, which makes them obvious plays. There are also a lot of bad teams on this slate, so pickings are slim.
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DraftKings and FanDuel NHL DFS Picks: Centers
Anze Kopitar (LAK at ANA): DraftKings – $6000, FanDuel – $7700
It’s a hefty price to pay for Kopitar on FanDuel tonight where he’s the fourth-most expensive skater behind Jack Eichel, Artemi Panarin, and Patrick Kane. Over on DraftKings, Kopitar comes in as the 19th-most expensive skater. While I don’t think the matchup in general is bad for Kopitar and the Kings, it’s hard to pay $7,700 for a road forward on a bad team, even on a short slate.
While Kopitar’s current 18.2 percent shooting will probably decline, it’s important to note he’s always been a high-percentage, low-volume shooter. He hasn’t had a season over three shots per game in nine years, but half of his 82-game campaigns in that span included at least 25 goals.
Anaheim is quietly one of the worst defensive teams in the NHL, coming in tied for 27th in expected goals against at five-on-five while Kopitar’s line is above-average by expected goals generated. There’s no need for a stack here as Kopitar is the focal point of the entire team, making his price on DraftKings appealing as a one-off in tournaments.
Travis Zajac (NJD at BUF): DraftKings – $3200, FanDuel – $3600
New Jersey frequently changes their lines, but it appears their top-6 will remain intact as it has for a few games now. That means Travis Zajac centering Nikita Gusev and Blake Coleman.
Zajac himself isn’t a goal scorer, as he hasn’t had a 20-goal season in a decade (seriously). One thing he does well is distribute the puck: from 2016-19, Zajac was in the top third of the league in zone entry percentage, zone exit percentage and shot assists, the latter two floating near the 80th and 85th percentiles, respectively. What that means is he likes to carry the puck in transition, often with success, and that he’s good at finding teammates for shots. In short, he’s a play-maker, and that’s part of the reason why he’s so cheap.
Having Coleman and Gusev is good for Zajac, as those are two of the team’s five heavy shooters (two others are on the top line). They’re likely to face a good amount of Casey Mittelstadt’s line, and both he and Jimmy Vesey are well below average defensively.
Again, the issue with Zajac is he doesn’t shoot, which means he has a very low floor, even at this price. He’s strictly for salary relief or as part of a contrarian stack.
DraftKings and FanDuel NHL DFS Picks: Wingers
Andrew Shaw (CHI vs STL): DraftKings – $2900, FanDuel – $4200
Another instance where a player is considerably cheaper on DraftKings than FanDuel, even when factoring cap and scoring differences.
The pop line Alex Nylander experiment has come to an end for Chicago, and he has been replaced by Andrew Shaw. Shaw is a proven commodity in the NHL, having shown for years that he can drive shots and goals for his team(s). Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad have been able to generate a lot of shots this year – over 67 attempts per 60 minutes – and that has led to a very high expected goal rate of 2.82. With the introduction of a proven scorer like Shaw, it should only help their offensive numbers moving forward.
A dirty secret in the NHL this year is that the St. Louis Blues aren’t great defensively, at least not like the latter half of last year. They’re sitting at 2.22 expected goals against per 60 at five-on-five, which is about league average. They’re flying by on top-end goaltending performances, which should be a concern for Blues fans, given the variance of the position. Shaw shoots more than Zajac, which means he’s more appealing for cash games on DraftKings but is still better used as a salary relief for one-off in tournaments.
Rickard Rakell (ANA vs. LAK): DraftKings – $5900, FanDuel – $6000
November saw Rakell pick up his offensive numbers, especially the shots department, basically adding a shot for every 60 minutes of five-on-five ice time. That might not sound like a lot, but it works out to be an extra 2-3 goals over the course of a full season.
Rakell was also reunited with Ryan Getzlaf and those two, along with Troy Terry, have been excellent offensively, coming in at 3.2 expected goals and 15.8 high-danger chances per 60 minutes. That led to Rakell posting five goals and 10 points in 13 games for the month, which is about the pace we’d expect him to play to, given his historical scoring rates. After looking off for the first month, he and Getzlaf reuniting has ignited both guys.
When Los Angeles’s top line is on the bench in road games this year, the team allows 20 percent more shot attempts and 10 percent more expected goals. In other words, the team is considerably worse defensively, which makes sense. That’s good news for Rakell as the Henrique line should see matchup duties, leaving Rakell and his line mates to run amok on the depth from a bad Kings team. He’s fine in any format for this slate.
DraftKings and FanDuel NHL DFS Picks: Defense
Tony DeAngelo (NYR vs. VGK): DraftKings – $4500, FanDuel – $4600
The knock on DeAngelo has always been his defense, and that’s why he’s had a hard time finding a consistent role in the NHL. Well, at least until the Rangers traded everything that could be traded and were effectively forced into playing him. He’s had a consistent role this year and, hey, look at that: a guy with a lengthy track record of being a great offensive play-driver from the blue line has been a great offensive play-driver from the blue line.
Vegas is a good defensive team in every regard but one: the penalty kill. For some reason, a team loaded with good defensive forwards is a bad PK team, coming in allowing the fourth-most shot attempts and seventh-most expected goals. The actual goals against haven’t been too bad because of a high save percentage. With Marc-Andre Fleury away from the team for personal reasons, this is a good opportunity for the Rangers’ power play to pepper a backup goalie with shots. DeAngelo is the distributor on the power play, which makes him a nice one-off for tournaments tonight.
Ryan Pulock (NYI at DET): DraftKings – $5000, FanDuel – $4500
There aren’t a lot of defenseman that are true threats for five shots and three blocks in a game, but Pulock is genuinely one of them, and his price is considerably cheaper than most of his peers would be. On the season, he’s averaging 2.1 shots and 1.9 blocks per game. That’s after a slow start, though: the month of November saw him put up 2.5 shots and 1.6 blocks per game.
Pulock is on the second power-play unit but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The top unit – with Barzal, Lee, and Eberle – is generating very meager shot totals in whichever combinations they’ve this year. The second power-play unit has been better, though we’re talking about small samples all around here. The long and short of it is the Islanders are facing an atrocious Red Wings team and Pulock is a combo-meal defenseman who should play 22-23 minutes.
DraftKings and FanDuel NHL DFS Stacks to Target
Chicago line of Toews-Shaw-Saad
Chicago ownership should largely fall on the Kane-DeBrincat line, but as mentioned in the section on Toews, he and Saad haven’t had much problem generating offense this year. Adding Shaw to the mix should only help. Toews and Shaw both play the power play together, adding a bit of correlation. In addition, they’re also cheap, which helps fit in not only expensive stacks like the Golden Knights or Rangers, but also to squeeze in expensive blue liners.
Anaheim line of Rakell-Getzlaf-Terry
As also mentioned in the section above on Rakell, he and Getzlaf are a very good offensive duo in their own right, and they’ll get good matchups all game long. Having Terry on the other wing really brings down the average cost of the line, making them a perfect target among the mid-range for this slate. Of course, they should carry a fair amount of ownership.