Thursday in the daily fantasy hockey world provides one of the larger slates of the season — a 10-game slate — with a handful of appetizing NHL DFS contents around the industry. With the help of Alex Baker’s industry-leading fantasy hockey projections and Top Stacks Tool, we’ll be using the data to extract some of the players in ideal spots and optimal conditions. In the detailed portion below, we’ll analyze the best NHL DFS picks for DraftKings and FanDuel lineups on Thursday, April 8.
As always, be sure to check our Premium Slack for lineup and projection updates throughout the day.
NHL DFS Picks & Top Stacks | DraftKings & FanDuel
NHL DFS Picks Center
Brock Nelson (NYI vs. PHI)
DraftKings — $5,100
FanDuel — $5,600
The Islanders have been sending out Nelson’s second line against opposing top competition for a while now, basically since the Anders Lee injury. Tonight, that means going up against Sean Couturier, Joel Farabee and Oskar Lindblom. Since March 1, with the duo of Couturier and James van Riemsdyk on the ice, the Flyers control just 46.4% of the expected goals and average 4.2 goals against per 60 minutes. Those are atrocious numbers — very un-Couturier-like. But he’s playing injured, so in that makes sense in context.
Conversely, the Islanders’ second line has controlled 59.1% of the expected goals in that same span, scoring 3.3 goals per 60 minutes. Those are great numbers and are why Nelson is the focus. He is best used in a stack with his line in a tournament, but he’s a proven goal scorer, so using him as a one-off in tournaments is fine as well. Just beware of using him in cash games because he doesn’t shoot a lot, so he has a real possibility of putting up a zero.
Kirby Dach (CHI vs. DAL)
DraftKings — $3,800
FanDuel — $3,700
What needs to be understood about Dach is that, like Nelson, there’s a real chance of a zero here. On the season, he’s averaging 1.7 shots per game, up from 1.6 shots per game last year. That is a very low floor.
However, the reason for his inclusion here is three-fold. First, he is getting good amounts of ice time, and valuable ice time at that; he’s skating with Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat both at five-on-five and on the power play. In over 400 minutes with DeBrincat dating back to last season, the Blackhawks have scored 2.8 goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five, which is a perfectly fine mark. Second, his price is very reasonable. And third, Dallas’s defensive metrics have fallen off lately, surpassing two expected goals against per 60 over the last few weeks, whereas they were at about 1.7 for the month before that. This isn’t the super-elite defensive team they have been for much of the year. They are still good defensively, just not unbeatable, and Dach’s line is talented enough to take advantage of that. While he’s only carrying a 6.19-projected point total tonight, he’s worth a look.
NHL DFS Picks: Winger
Steven Stamkos (TB at CBJ)
DraftKings — $6,800
FanDuel — $7,400
It is always a bit precarious using high-priced players against Columbus because the Blue Jackets are among the least-penalized teams in the NHL, and a lot of DFS value is derived from power-play time. With that said, at five-on-five, Columbus’ expected goals against per 60 at five-on-five for the last three weeks are 2.41, just slightly better than Chicago’s 2.43. If this were Tampa Bay going into Chicago, and the Hawks weren’t taking a lot of penalties, no one would fade Tampa Bay; they would take the great five-on-five matchup. The bonus for Tampa Bay is that Boone Jenner, probably Columbus’s best checking forward, is out for the season.
The big issue is that Stamkos’ line with Anthony Cirelli and Alex Killorn hasn’t been very good, scoring just two goals in 107 minutes of ice time against 3.5 expected goals. But with Jenner out, there is nothing to worry about matchup-wise, and Columbus was a bad defensive team before that. Tonight, the Cirelli line as a whole is a strong play and Stamkos (who is the No. 3-projected Winger on the entire slate behind David Pastrnak and Kane) in particular is an outstanding one.
Nino Niederreiter (CAR vs. FLA)
DraftKings — $4,600
FanDuel — $4,300
It has been a bit of a tough stretch for Niederreiter, with no goals in his last six games, but he still managed 10 shots in that span and averaged 16:26 a night. It isn’t as if he has disappeared. And there has been consistency, as he’s moved to a line with Jordan Staal and is consistently around that 16-minute mark.
Staal and Niederreiter have been great when skating together this year, posting 3.3 expected goals per 60 minutes, 3.9 actual goals per 60 minutes and a 59.1% expected goal share (all at five-on-five). Though they get the Aleksander Barkov matchup tonight, and that’s a tough matchup in itself, the guarantee of that matchup guarantees Niederreiter’s minutes tonight as well. And, as just mentioned, Niederreiter’s line is not a pushover; they are quite good in their own right.
This is probably a spot to use Niederreiter in a two-man with Staal, or something of that nature. They will carry very little ownership compared to guys like Sebastian Aho or Vincent Trocheck, and they have shown the ability to score. Niederreiter can be used as a one-off, but using him with Staal in a tournament makes more sense.
Andrew Copp (WPG at MTL)
DraftKings — $4,200
FanDuel — $3,900
The Jets have lost Blake Wheeler to injury, and that has opened a couple valuable spots in their lineup. At the least, Copp appears to have moved into the top-six-forward mix, flanking Pierre-Luc Dubois on the second line.
Copp has had a quietly good season, posting 30 points in 39 games and averaging a career-high 18:26 a night. He has surpassed 20 minutes in two of his last three games, figuring to play at in that range again with Wheeler out of the lineup and Copp in the top six. He got some top power-play time last game, but Mason Appleton was moved there in practice, so do not rely on top power-play minutes just yet.
That doesn’t matter for tonight, though. The Canadiens are either starting Jake Allen on a back-to-back or their third-string goalie, supposing Carey Price doesn’t return from injury tonight. Copp has a price that puts him in range in any format, though a one-off in tournaments makes sense given his spot on the roster.
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NHL DFS Picks: Defense
Miro Heiskanen (DAL at CHI)
DraftKings — $5,400
FanDuel — $4,400
The run that Heiskanen is on right now probably isn’t getting as much publicity as it should. Since the beginning of March, a span of 21 games, he has managed five goals, 11 points, 57 shots and over 26 minutes per night in ice time. It is that last point that is most notable, as ice time leads to a solid floor, evidenced by that shot rate of nearly three per contest.
Going into Chicago is a plus matchup for Dallas. The Hawks are a bottom-10 team by expected goals against per 60 at five-on-five over the last few weeks, only being saved by great goaltending from Kevin Lankinen. Relying on goaltending is not a key to sustained success, so take this matchup for Heiskanen. That goes double for FanDuel where he’s priced very generously.
Jacob Trouba (NYR vs. PIT)
DraftKings — $4,100
FanDuel — $4,300
Just two days ago, the Rangers put up an eight-spot on the Penguins. Do not expect anywhere close to that kind of performance again, but the Rangers have looked fantastic lately. That isn’t just random praise either, as the team has been top 10 by expected goals for per 60 minutes at all strengths, and third by actual goals scored. Part of this is getting healthy and getting their players back, Trouba included.
In the month since returning from injury, Trouba has seven points in 16 games, and 27 shots blocked in that span (hitting the DraftKings bonus on five occasions). He doesn’t have the regular upside of Adam Fox because of Fox’s top power-play status, but Trouba has shown the ability to block shots on a regular basis, doing so on one of the top offensive teams in the NHL at the moment. He doesn’t need top power-play minutes to get in on the scoring, shown by his two assists in that eight-goal outburst. For those not wanting to pay Fox’s high price, Trouba is fine in any format.
Linus Ullmark (BUF vs. NJ)
DraftKings — $7,600
FanDuel — $6,700
For as bleak most of Buffalo’s season has been, Ullmark has been great. He was dealing with injuries earlier in the year, but in five games since returning he’s posted a .921 save percentage, allowing just 13 goals in five games. Over his three full-ish seasons, he’s in the top quartile of the league’s goalies in goals saved above average, and this has been on dreadful Buffalo teams. He really does look like a good goaltender beyond just this season.
Tonight they get a New Jersey team that has as many losses as Buffalo does over the last three weeks and lost both Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac yesterday to a trade. Ullmark looks to be a good goalie, and he comes in at a solid price (particularly on FanDuel) with likely low ownership.
NYR2: Panarin – Strome – Blackwell
This line has been nothing short of incredible for the Rangers, posting 58.5% of the expected goal share at five-on-five, taking a whopping 84.7% of the actual goal share and scoring 4.7 goals per 60 minutes. They get the exact same matchup they had a huge game in a couple nights ago. While it can feel like chasing points, this is a great line that will get depth matchups against a team that has a couple key injuries. They should be on the list for consideration in tournaments tonight.
NYI2: Beauvillier – Nelson – Bailey
The issue is that these three players don’t skate on the same power-play unit, with Beauvillier on PP1 and the others on PP2. However, as mentioned in the section on Nelson, they are just a very good line at five-on-five, and at their price no one can complain much about not having perfect correlation. Being tasked with Couturier’s line gives them an ice-time floor, and it’s a good matchup. They are a nice secondary line tonight in GPPs.
*Stats from Natural Stat Trick
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