Thursday night brings in the NHL brings a nine-game slate from which to make NHL DFS picks tonight. This article will focus on the players who pop in Awesemo’s expert fantasy point projections as well as some stacks to target based on the Awesemo Top Stacks Tool. With these picks, there should be no issued in creating your DraftKings and FanDuel NHL lineups.
As always, be sure to check our Premium Slack chat for updates throughout the day on projections, ownership and lineups.
NHL DFS Picks: Thursday’s Best Plays & Top Stacks
NHL DFS Picks: Center
Vincent Trocheck (CAR at CHI)
DraftKings – $6,300
FanDuel – $5,400
Trocheck missed three weeks with an injury but returned two nights ago and posted an assist with six shots in nearly 19 minutes of ice time. He looked just fine coming back from his upper-body issue. He was skating with Andrei Svechnikov in his return, and that duo has been excellent this year. In 51 minutes together, they have 3.7 expected goals per 60 minutes and a 67.2% expected goal share. Those are monster totals. It is a small sample, but they were great in a small sample last year as well, and these are two very good hockey players. They also get a Chicago team that has been 29th by expected goals against and 20th by actual goals against over the last four weeks.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau (NYI vs. WSH)
DraftKings – $4,600
FanDuel – $4,300
A slow start to the season kept Pageau’s overall season’s numbers modest, but after posting one goal and 10 shots in his first 10 games, he is up to 10 goals and two shots per game over his last 25. That span has seen him play just a few seconds shy of 17 minutes a night, playing all three phases for the Islanders. That has led to 7 points with the power play and 2 on the penalty kill.
It is his line that makes him a target. He is skating with Oliver Wahlstrom, and they have been very good together, posting an expected goal share over 54% and 2.7 goals per 60 minutes. There are not many cheap centers that make good one-off targets, but Pageau playing in all facets for the Islanders makes him unique for players in his price range. He is best used as part of a stack in a tournament, but he is fine to use by himself as well.
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NHL DFS Picks: Winger
Oliver Bjorkstrand (CBJ at TB)
DraftKings – $5,000
FanDuel – $6,700
Two quick notes: Bjorkstrand missed practice on Wednesday with a non-COVID illness, so he may be out Thursday, and his price on FanDuel is far too high. He makes a better option on DraftKings.
In all, there really isn’t a lot to get excited about with Columbus for DFS. The coach often changes lines, ice time is inconsistent, the team has a bad power play, and they don’t draw many penalties to begin with.
None of this seems to affect Bjorkstrand, though, as he has 13 goals and 30 points in 37 games on the season. He is shooting 15.1%, but after seasons of 13% and 14.3%, it doesn’t seem outlandish. His production paces out to 29 goals and 66 points, which is fantastic when considering the environment in which he plays. He is also one of the very few who gets consistent ice time, playing at least 17 minutes in 10 of his last 11 games.
It is a tough matchup tonight in Tampa, but that keeps Bjorkstrand’s ownership low. He seems to be impervious to the difficulties around him, and that makes him a target as a one-off for tournaments. He is just very hard to stack with any other forward from his team because of the aforementioned constant line changes.
Kaapo Kakko (NYR at BUF)
DraftKings – $3,200
FanDuel – $4,200
New York’s second line has really started to score of late, with Kakko posting three goals in five games, with Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome combining for 16 points in that stretch. There is a bit of luck, but they’ve been playing very well together this year, posting 2.4 expected goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five and 4.3 actual goals. Kakko himself has much better underlying metrics like shot-driving and shot-prevention numbers than last year.
Getting a Buffalo team that is at the bottom of the league, playing a back-to-back is a gift for the Rangers here. At his price, Kakko is fine to use in any format and in any contest.
Brett Connolly (FLA vs. DET)
DraftKings – $2,800
FanDuel – $3,300
Despite being a healthy scratch often this year, this is a reminder that Connolly, in a four-year span from 2016 to 2020, was 14th in the league in goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five, exceeding luminaries like Evgeni Malkin, John Tavares and Patrik Laine. His problem has always been ice time, and this year it’s been just getting in the lineup.
Well, he has two problems, really. He doesn’t shoot a lot, as his shot rate is more in the middle of the league in the span listed above. He relies on percentages, and that makes him volatile.
With all of Florida’s injuries, it has forced Connolly not only back into the lineup, but to the top of it. He has played at least 16 minutes in three straight games, scoring in his last one. He is at home to a Detroit team that is 22nd by expected goals against at five-on-five over the last four weeks and 25th in actual goals against. Connolly, at his price, is a target for tournaments.
[osBestBetsSingleGameOdds league=”nhl” date=”04/01/2021″ team=”panthers”]
NHL DFS Picks: Defensemen
Thomas Chabot (OTT vs. MTL)
DraftKings – $5,600
FanDuel – $5,000
Before Ottawa’s recent break, Chabot was being used at an insane clip by his coach; he had exceeded 30 minutes in ice time in four of his five games and cracked 28 in the other. Three of those were overtime games, but clearly he would be playing high-20s regardless. He had just one assist in that span but racked up 13 blocks and hit the bonus on DraftKings twice.
Tonight Ottawa hosts a Montreal team that is among the most penalized in the NHL, and Chabot should run the team’s top power-play unit. Beyond that, Ottawa allowed the fourth-most shot attempts per 60 minutes in March, while Montreal ranked fourth in shot attempts taken. There should be plenty of opportunity for Chabot to get the shot-block bonus on DraftKings tonight. On FanDuel the lack of bonus makes him a more precarious play, but his sheer volume of ice time makes it a bit easier to swallow.
Esa Lindell (DAL at NSH)
DraftKings – $4,400
FanDuel – $3,700
Since the injury to Ryan Ellis, Nashville’s penalty kill has fallen from eighth by expected goals against per 60 in the league all the way to 24th. That is a precipitous drop. In the meantime, their actual goals allowed fell, but so did the rate of penalties called league-wide, so they were 23rd by actual goals against. This is a bad penalty kill.
Lindell gets secondary power-play minutes, but the unit has had names like Jamie Benn and Denis Gurianov on it. It is not as if he’s playing with scrubs. Beyond that he has 55 blocks in 33 games, hitting the block bonus on DraftKings eight times in those contests.
There is potential for across-the-board production, and Lindell has a reasonable price for someone averaging over 24 minutes a game for his last five. He is fine as a one-off in tournaments or part of a Stars stack. He has a real nice price on FanDuel in particular.
Kevin Lankinen (CHI vs. CAR)
DraftKings – $7,400
FanDuel – $7,200
All the reasons that made Trocheck a good play earlier in the article are some of the same reasons that make Lankinen a good goalie to use. To crystallize this issue, Lankinen averaged 33.6 shots faced per game in 10 games during the month of March. Only two teams — Florida and Colorado — averaged more shots per 60 minutes in the last month.
NYR1: Zibanejad – Kreider – Buchnevich
It took some time, but Zibanejad found his groove in March to the tune of nine goals and 16 points in 21 games, averaging over 20 minutes a night in ice time. Going into Buffalo tonight gives them one of the worst teams in hockey on a back-to-back. The Rangers deserve full attention tonight from top to bottom, and it starts with their premier line.
MTL1: Danault – Tatar – Gallagher
Though it seems as if they’ve been disappointing, Montreal’s top line has a goals for per 60 minutes of 4.17 this year at five-on-five. That rate is higher than the top lines from the Islanders, Bruins, Blackhawks, Rangers and Panthers. Those are some great top lines, and this line has outscored them all per minute.
The problem is ice time, as Montreal tends to spread theirs out. But they get an easy matchup with the Senators tonight and may not need a lot of ice time to return value at their reasonable prices.
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