There are just four games in the NHL tonight, so fans need to be judicious with fantasy hockey picks. There are a couple of teams playing their second of a back-to-back here tonight, so line changes may be coming. Awesemo subscribers are encouraged to check our Discord for lineup changes as warmups approach. Let’s get to our NHL DFS picks today for this Wednesday, March 23.
NHL DFS Picks Today, Top Stacks & Lineup Optimizer Plays
Auston Matthews (TOR vs. NJD): DraftKings – $9,200 | FanDuel – $10,200
While Auston Matthews has been an elite fantasy performer basically all season long, one issue that had cropped up was a drop in ice time. Before his suspension, he had a five-week stretch with several games in the 15-18 minute range. A player that has superb shot rates like Matthews, who leads the league this month on a per-minute basis, benefits greatly from more ice time. That is not to say he was not valuable with less ice time, as he still had 12 goals in 10 games before his two-game reprieve. He has played more than 20 minutes in four straight games, so those ice-time concerns are not really a factor anymore.
New Jersey is in town tonight and they are on a back-to-back in Toronto, which is a tough situation for any team. While they are getting healthier, the Devils are still just a middle-of-the-road team defensively at 5-on-5. That is rarely good enough to contain a player like Matthews, and the Leafs have been resting since Saturday night, with no other game until this coming Saturday. He is perfectly fine in all formats here tonight, including line stacks for tournaments. Just expect a lot of ownership on this short slate.
Jeff Carter (PIT at BUF): DraftKings – $4,500 | FanDuel – $4,700
A full Pittsburgh roster should mean a lessened role for Jeff Carter. He is still skating over 16 minutes a game this month, though, and that is far from true third-line minutes. It is not a lot, but that is also reflected in his price.
In reality, it is the matchup that stands out here. Buffalo is an improved team from recent seasons, but a lot of that has been in the offensive end. This team still has a lot of work to do defensively, and that is very apparent when the top line is off the ice. When their premier trio is on the bench at 5-on-5, this team has been getting out-scoring-chanced by a ratio of nearly 3:2 so far in March. Carter and his linemates will not see much of that threesome from the Sabres, and that means it is a fantastic matchup for them.
Like New Jersey, Pittsburgh is on a back-to-back tonight and that favors Buffalo. Other than that, though, this is a mismatch at basically every level for the Penguins, and Carter should be able to have the run of play against the depth forwards. He can be used as a one-off tonight in tournaments, particularly on FanDuel, where his price is more reasonable.
Alex DeBrincat (CHI at ANA): DraftKings – $5,900 | FanDuel – $8,100
On the topic of gains in ice time, Alex DeBrincat has averaged in excess of 21 minutes a game for the month of March and has exceeded 21 minutes in each of his last five games. For a volume shooter like DeBrincat, the additional ice time is very welcome, as he is just shy of four shots per game over his last 10 contests. It is not as if the production is lacking, either, with 11 points in those meetings.
The top line for Chicago has been excellent offensively in their near-200 minutes together at 5-on-5, creating 2.6 expected goals and 3.9 actual goals per 60 minutes. Since being moved to the top line 18 games ago, DeBrincat has put up 8 goals and 20 points, averaging 3.7 shots per game. Those are just fantastic offensive numbers and shows the kind of upside these top-end forwards have from the Chicago side tonight.
Anaheim has also seen some important players get traded recently, in particular their best defensive defenseman in Hampus Lindholm. That is obviously very good news for DeBrincat and the Blackhawks here tonight. With his goal-scoring prowess, he is certainly acceptable as a one-off in tournaments, but this is an instance where bringing his linemates along may be preferred.
Valeri Nichushkin (COL vs. VAN): DraftKings – $4,700 | FanDuel – $6,600
It has been four games since Valeri Nichushkin was moved to the top line for Colorado, and he has skated over 20 minutes a night in all four games. As for actual production, he has five points and 15 shots in those contests. He has been an excellent addition to the top line when injuries hit, and it has not made him overly expensive just yet.
Part of the reason for the offensive increase was his jump to the top power play unit, and that is important to note for tonight. Vancouver is in town, and they are in the bottom-10, and near the bottom-10, in expected goals against and actual goals against when short-handed over the last six weeks. The penalty kill is not good and Colorado’s power play is a top-10 power play in hockey. Nichushkin being given a role on that quintet is a big boost to his overall fantasy profile.
The question is how to use him tonight. Given his price and role, he is certainly a possibility for cash games this evening. In tournaments, it is more of a question because the Avalanche will be very popular. The top line still deserves full attention, though, and Nichushkin is a big part of that equation at his reasonable cost.
Troy Terry (ANA vs. CHI): DraftKings – $3,900 | FanDuel – $6,000
On the other side of the Chicago game is an Anaheim team that has traded away a few key pieces of late, namely Lindholm and Rickard Rakell. Add in a couple of injuries, and this is not a deep team. The good news for Troy Terry is the coach has assembled him with Trevor Zegras, easily the team’s most talented playmaker. They have not played much together this year, but are two of the pillars of this franchise. They had a good first game with Derek Grant, controlling over 50% of the scoring chances against Nashville.
There are a couple of things working in Anaheim’s favor tonight. The Chicago Blackhawks are the 10th-most penalized team in the league over the last month, which should give these two their chances with the man advantage. The other is that Chicago traded starting goalie Marc-André Fleury, and his backup has been abysmal this season with a high-danger save percentage at 5-on-5 under .790. Goaltending is very random from game to game, but this is a good start for the Ducks.
Terry is a goal scorer, as he tallied his 30th of the year a couple of days ago, so he is fine to use as a one-off in tournaments tonight.
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Quinn Hughes (VAN at COL): DraftKings – $5,200 | FanDuel – $5,700
Without a doubt, going into Colorado is a difficult matchup for any team. There are just eight teams to work with tonight, though, and a couple of them are on road back-to-backs. At least Vancouver is rested here and sporting a power play that is sixth in the league, just behind this Colorado squad, in goals per minute since Valentine’s Day. Conversely, the Avalanche’s penalty kill is, at best, an average one and that is why Quinn Hughes is here. He runs that Vancouver power play and it is one area that the Canucks might have a small advantage against this vaunted Avalanche roster. He is not a player that posts much in peripherals, so he very much needs this power play matchup to work out for fantasy value tonight. That removes him from cash consideration, but he is very much an option in tournaments.
Mark Giordano (TOR vs. NJD): DraftKings – $3,800 | FanDuel – $5,200
One of the bigger trades from this past deadline was Mark Giordano being moved from Seattle to Toronto. He had been having a bad season in Seattle, as everyone did, but he is still a defenseman who loves to jump offensively into the play. He will get a better opportunity to do that on a much better offensive team. The former Flame is also a shooter, having a shot-per-minute rate over 15% higher than any Leafs blue liner this year. The Toronto defensemen not shooting is a part of the team philosophy, but he is priced very reasonably for this great matchup. He does not need a lot of shots to produce good value tonight and it will not take much at his reasonable DraftKings price.
Craig Anderson (BUF vs. PIT): DraftKings – $7,200 | FanDuel – $7,000
This is a tough matchup for the Sabres, but Pittsburgh is also on a back-to-back here tonight. Those situations are tough for any team and that is what brings Craig Anderson into play. Well, that, and the fact that Buffalo is in the bottom-10 by shots allowed over the last six weeks at 5-on-5. Anderson could see reasonable volume here tonight and any goalie that is expected to see volume is in play. The pricing here is what makes this palatable, and the fact that he is at home is what separates him from the other goalies in his price range tonight.
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There are only so many places to go tonight that will not have 30% ownership and at least Buffalo is in a home matchup against a team that is on a back-to-back. While the Penguins have been very good defensively for a while now, this Buffalo top line is generating nearly 40 scoring chances per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 this month, which is an exceptionally high number. The problem is they are shooting 5%, and percentages tend not to last. They skate together at all offensive strengths, and they will be lower-owned than some of the top-end lines from the top-end teams tonight. They are among the stacking targets for tournaments tonight.
As mentioned in the section on DeBrincat, this might be a situation where stacking the entire line is preferable to a one-off. These three skate together at even strength and on the power play, and Anaheim has seen its depth depleted due to trades. They have also seen a significant price drop on DraftKings over the last month or so and that might drive more ownership here, but is also allows for a wide variety of roster construction options. These three Blackhawks forwards are appealing for tournaments this evening.
*Additional stats from Natural Stat Trick
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The NHL DFS projections DraftKings model was created and is maintained by Alex Baker and Jake Hari. Find more NHL DFS picks and DFS NHL picks tonight as well as the best NHL DFS picks FanDuel. The NHL daily fantasy sports rankings for fantasy points and value are derived directly from Alex's own NHL daily fantasy projections. Initial DFS hockey ownership projections for main slates will be posted daily by 4 p.m.
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