It is a short slate from which to make NHL DFS picks tonight, but with the high-powered offenses on the docket, there is no shortage of elite options. The Awesemo NHL DFS projections and fantasy projections are the best tools to use when constructing optimal DraftKings and FanDuel lineups tonight.
NHL DFS Picks, Tops Stacks & Lineup Optimizer Plays
Auston Matthews (TOR at CHI): DraftKings – $8,500 | FanDuel – $8,500
It has been a tough start to the year for both teams here, though the Maple Leafs have more hope for optimism. The function of their scoring woes is simply shooting percentage, where they rank last in the league. They are generating a lot of offense, being top 10 in shots and top five in expected goals. There is too much talent for this percentage downturn to persist. Chicago, on the other hand, is in the middle of the league in both regards and will be without at least Jonathan Toews.
Matthews is playing nearly 21 minutes a night and is generating well over four shots per game, his established norm. Going into Chicago to face a team that is bottom 10 in expected goals against and has been controlling just 42% of the shot share. Both are numbers that favor Matthews and the Leafs, who get a great matchup to explode tonight.
The question is how to use him, because on a slate this short in a spot this good, he will carry a lot of ownership. A one-off in tournaments probably does not make sense given the size of the slate. Creativity in tournament stacks is a necessity, even with some cheaper linemates. All the same, Matthews is No. 2 in Awesemo’s raw points projections for good reasons.
Connor McMichael (WSH vs. DET): DraftKings – $2,800 | FanDuel – $3,600
McMichael picked up a pair of assists in his last game out. In the AHL last season, he managed nearly four shots per game on goal, sitting officially at 3.85. He led their team in points as well and looks to be the next top-six center of the future. Regardless of the early returns, that level of shot rate means he is a bonus threat on DraftKings every night, even if he is playing 13 or 14 minutes a night. Skating on the second line with T.J. Oshie and Anthony Mantha also gives him talented wingers to skate with, which always helps.
Detroit is in town, and the team is improved from recent seasons. That said, they are in the middle of the league in expected and actual goals against. This is not a monumental task for McMichael and to overcome, especially if they are avoiding Dylan Larkin’s line most of the night. McMichael is cheap, which is reflected in his ice time, but the options in this range are thin, and he is skating with good wingers.
Zach Hyman (EDM vs. PHI): DraftKings – $5,100 | FanDuel – $6,000
The Oilers are second in the league in goals per game, which is no surprise. The power play leads the league, which is also no surprise, with 22.2 goals per 60, roughly double the sixth-highest scoring team. They similarly lead the next-closest team in power play expected goals by about 23%. Hyman is a fixture of that top power-play unit, having already tied a career high in power-play goals, with three. As long as he stays there, he is a big production threat and should always be considered in tournaments.
The tricky part is how to use him and the rest of the Oilers. Like Toronto, they will carry a lot of ownership, and there will be many stacks with Connor McDavid and Zach Hyman. He is too expensive for cash games, so it is a matter of how to deploy him in tournaments. The more players used from Edmonton, the more likely the combination is to be unique.
It should be noted he should avoid Sean Couturier a lot at five-on-five, and that is always a matchup to look for when playing the Flyers. There are more reasons than just the power play to use Hyman, which is why he is a top-five winger by value among wingers projects for double-digit points.
Denis Gurianov (DAL vs. VGK): DraftKings – $4,100 | FanDuel – $4,500
It has been an awful start to the season for the Stars offensively, with just 11 goals in six games. They have the second-lowest expected goals against in the league (next to Arizona) and the second-lowest shot rate as well. While that would probably bode poorly for this Dallas team, they host a Vegas team that is playing a back-to-back, and Vegas’ extensive injuries mean poor defensive numbers for them.
The problem with Gurianov this year has largely been ice time. The upside is that he was moved up the lineup in their last game and played north of 18 minutes. While Dallas is unreliable enough that he can drop back to 11 minutes for this one, at his price on a short slate it is worth the risk. Note that Gurianov leads the Stars in shot rate by over 50% the next-closest player. If he does play 18 minutes, he is a major shot-bonus threat on DraftKings.
Anthony Duclair (FLA vs. BOS): DraftKings – $3,800 | FanDuel – $5,000
With Duclair on the top line, the Panthers are excellent offensively, with over three expected goals per 60 and nearly four actual goals per 60 at five-on-five. While the Bruins in town means an excellent defensive team visiting, the Panthers have been able to score on anyone for two seasons. It is a short slate, so gamers cannot just exclude a line or team because of a tough matchup.
Duclair is a good goal scorer, with nearly 25 goals per 82 games for four years, doing so playing 14 to 15 minutes a night. He will not get much more than that here, but that is also why he is priced where he is. It is hard to use him in cash games because he is not a volume shooter. He is the opposite of Gurianov in effect, which makes them different types of players for tonight. Duclair is fine as a one-off in tournaments or as part of some Florida stack. He is particularly a better value on DraftKings tonight.
John Carlson (WSH vs. DET): DraftKings – $5,300 | FanDuel – $6,400
It has been a tough start to the season for Carlson, with just 3 points in six games, but he still has his role on the top player and only lost about 40 seconds of ice time from last season. A tough start and still being 23 minutes a night for this team is well worth it for his price on DraftKings.
It is still early in the season, but Detroit is by far the most penalized team in the NHL this year, taking north of five minor penalties a game. If the Capitals get anywhere approaching five power plays tonight, Carlson is a wonderful option for this slate. Even without five or six power plays, he is still playing 23 minutes a night at home for one of the highest implied goal totals on the slate. Ownership is a concern, but the spot is not, and he is one of the best expensive defense values on the slate.
Evan Bouchard (EDM vs. PHI): DraftKings – $4,300 | FanDuel – $4,100
There are only so many defensemen at the top of the list tonight, but to get a bit different, Bouchard is a strong play. Last year in a small sample Bouchard had wonderful transition and playmaking numbers from the blue line. This year, again in a small sample, the Oilers have their best offensive numbers across the board with Bouchard on the ice. He certainly looks like as if he is going to be a great playmaker, and he may be that already. He provides a lower-owned alternative in a high-owned spot, which is ideal for smaller slates.
Linus Ullmark (BOS at FLA): DraftKings – $7,600 | FanDuel – $7,900
Florida has been one of the better offensive teams in the league this year, be it by shot attempts or expected goals. Ullmark comes in at a reasonable price on the road and should see decent volume, even behind a stout Boston defense. He is fine on his own or correlating with a stack.
Top NHL DFS Stacks
TOR PP – Matthews-Tavares-Nylander
Toronto is going to popular tonight, and that means getting different with the stacks. One that should be considered is the double-center, as it is not a stack that is often used by DFSers in the name of a balanced lineup. It is expensive, but there are a lot of cheaper spots to go to, and that should put Toronto against a faltering Chicago team at the top of the list.
DAL 2 – Gurianov – Benn – Radulov
With Jason Robertson back, a lot of excitement will go to the Dallas top line, and likely for good reason. Dallas is at home tonight to a Vegas team on a back-to-back, and they are continuing to be one of the worst teams in the league defensively, mainly thanks to all the injuries. The Stars will be popular fillers, but there are lots of ways to mix and match defensemen to be unique.
*Additional Data from Natural Stat Trick
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The NHL DraftKings rankings for fantasy points and value are derived directly from Alex's own NHL projections DFS. The NHL DFS projections DraftKings model was created and is maintained by Alex Baker and Jake Hari. Initial best NHL DFS ownership projections for main slates will be posted daily by 4 p.m. Find more DraftKings DFS NHL and NHL DFS as well as the best NHL DFS picks.
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