Tuesday rolls in with a 10-game NHL DFS slate littered with great options up and down the board. With so many viable plays, narrowing down the player pool is of the utmost importance. The Awesemo premium NHL tools and data are the best way to help in doing so. Ownership projections and player projections aid in knowing which players look the best based on matchups, and how to manipulate exposure. Below is a position-by-position breakdown of the players popping in Awesemo’s NHL DFS optimizer as the top NHL DFS picks today for DraftKings and FanDuel lineups.
NHL DFS Picks, Tops Stacks & Lineup Optimizer Plays
Connor McDavid (EDM at DET): DraftKings – $9,200 | FanDuel – $9,900
McDavid is the top producer in the NHL and has 95 points over his last 47 regular-season games spanning back to last season. While his power-play production this season has been a big reason for his overall success, it is worth noting he is still over a point-per-game player even without the power-play points (11 in 10 games). He is truly the most dominant player to step into the league in at least 15 years.
Detroit’s penalty kill has been a bit unlucky this year, coming in last by save percentage, but they are not elite. And the Red Wings are among the 10 most penalized teams in hockey. It does not take much for McDavid to get a lane to score. If a good-not-great penalty kill gives this Oilers team four or five opportunities with the man advantage, things could go very poorly for the Red Wings.
The big uptick for McDavid is his shot rate. He has 25 shots in his last five games, so it has not started to tail off just yet. His point production with that shot rate makes him a target in any format on any night. Quite honestly, unless McDavid’s production and shot rate start tailing off significantly, he is underpriced where he is.
Ryan O’Reilly (STL at WPG): DraftKings – $5,400 | FanDuel – $6,700
The Blues are going into Winnipeg, and though the Jets have assembled three decent scoring lines for the first time in recent memory, they are still using Blake Wheeler in a shutdown role. Their expected goals against this year sits at 2.7 per 60 minutes, on the heels of a 2.7 last year and 2.4 the year before. This is not a good shutdown duo, and it is why their on-ice goals against over the last three years are north of 3.1 despite having Connor Hellebuyck in net.
O’Reilly returned for St. Louis last week and is back on the top line with David Perron. That means they will get the Wheeler/Mark Scheifele line in a matchup, and that is advantage O’Reilly and Perron. Note that Scheifele is technically a game-time decision.
O’Reilly is tricky to use because he is not a volume shooter. That type of player is unlikely to have huge fantasy nights without other players on the team having big fantasy nights. In that sense, O’Reilly, Perron and a defenseman, or just stacking the line at even strength, make more sense than using O’Reilly as a one-off. He will undoubtedly be overlooked tonight on the road, though.
Matthew Tkachuk (CGY vs. SJ): DraftKings – $6,900 | FanDuel – $7,000
The Flames keep rolling, as the team has just one regulation loss on the season, which came on opening night against Edmonton. They are 7-0-2 since, having scored at least two goals in every game this season. While some of it is good fortune, the top line is controlling 65% of the expected goals and 60% of the shots when they are on the ice. The line of Matthew Tkachuk, Elias Lindholm and Johnny Gaudreau is throttling opponents and has been all year. San Jose in town tonight means that line is getting the second and third lines from San Jose. The team remains without some of their stars, like Erik Karlsson and Evander Kane, while William Eklund was sent back to Sweden. Add in the rest of the COVID problems, and there is just too much depth missing, even if Timo Meier returns tonight.
That provides favorable conditions for Calgary and a question on how to use Tkachuk. He is expensive, but he is averaging four shots per game and has hit the DraftKings shot bonus on four occasions. Between this matchup, his line’s chemistry and his shot rate, there are a lot of reasons to use Tkachuk tonight. He can obviously be used as part of a tournament stack, but his shot rate brings him into play as a one-off, or even for cash games.
Nils Hoglander (VAN vs. ANA): DraftKings – $2,900 | FanDuel – $4,100
Vancouver will draw a lot of attention tonight given their matchup and performance on the weekend. They also are not overly expensive, so people not playing Edmonton/Boston will have them on their radar. But the attention is likely to go to the power-play options – with good reason – and that leaves Hoglander as a lower-owned option. In fact, his early ownership run is 25% lower than linemate Bo Horvat.
Since joining the Horvat line, Hoglander has played at least 15 minutes in each of his games. Even with just 15 to 17 minutes of ice time, he is a shot bonus threat on DraftKings, having hit it once this year already and falling one shot short on three other occasions.
It is the fact that he is playing with Horvat that grabs attention. That duo has had good chemistry over the last two seasons, creating 2.6 expected goals, 66 shot attempts and 3.3 goals per 60 minutes, all well above-average numbers (in over 440 minutes together). This is a good duo and should come in lower owned than Elias Pettersson and company.
The lack of power-play time caps Hoglander’s upside, but he absolutely has multi-goal, multi-point, shot-bonus upside tonight playing at home to a defensively inept Anaheim team. He is fine by himself in a tournament or with Horvat in a stack.
Craig Smith (BOS vs. OTT): DraftKings – $2,700 | FanDuel – $3,800
The major problem with Smith this year – besides injuries – is the inconsistent ice time. In his six games he has played between 11 and 12 minutes twice, 14 to 15 minutes twice and 16-plus twice. It would be better if he were just getting 15 minutes every night.
The fact remains that his shot rate is very good, exceeding 17 attempts per 60 minutes at five-on-five. That is what constantly makes Smith appealing – if he can get ice time, the DraftKings shot bonus is a real threat. He has hit it once in his six games this year, in a game he played a season-high 16:43. He hit it three times last year as well (twice in games he skated over 17 minutes). With Ottawa in town, the Bruins may be inclined to spread out the ice time, supposing that it is a game they can control. That should hopefully offer a decent number of Smith minutes. He is the top-value winger at $3,000 or less on DraftKings by Awesemo’s projections.
Even if he does not get the time, he is still a threat to score despite being goalless on the year. The second line is still generating an unholy amount of shot attempts (over 84 per 60 minutes), and Ottawa likes to play a high-paced game anyway. Smith works for tournaments either as a one-off or part of a second-line stack to avoid heavy top-line ownership.
Justin Faulk (STL at WPG): DraftKings – $4,900 | FanDuel – $4,400
Torey Krug was added to the COVID list over the weekend for St. Louis, and that has pushed Faulk from the second power play to the top power play. He had also just been playing more in general of late, having skated at least 23 minutes in four straight games, all four games being season-highs. That level of ice time makes him a bonus threat on DraftKings, having one shot and two block bonuses already this season. He had six shot bonuses and 12 block bonuses in 56 games last year, so he is a genuine threat for either as long as he is skating the 23 to 25 minutes he has been. The top power-play minutes just boost his upside through point production.
The Blues are in Winnipeg, and that means getting a Jets team that is in the bottom six across the board in penalty-killing stats. The Jets having a bad penalty kill is nothing new, as it is something that has generally plagued this team since Paul Maurice took over as coach. That is great news for Faulk and company, the No. 2 team in goal rate on the power play this season. He is best used in some sort of stack, but he is fine by himself in tournaments.
Haydn Fleury (SEA at VGK): DraftKings – $3,200 | FanDuel – $4,000
Fleury is an interesting player because as long as he is in the lineup he is a threat for the DraftKings bonuses. He has two shot and one block bonus this year yet has just one game with more than 20 minutes in ice time. He had one shot and eight block bonuses last year, having skated 20 minutes in just seven of his 47 regular season games. He is a genuine peripheral threat; he just needs to get into the lineup with a reasonable, not necessarily excessive, number of minutes.
Tonight’s matchup is one against Vegas, one of the higher-paced teams in the league by shots generated and allowed. That should give Fleury chances for shots and blocks. He is not a true punt, but he is certainly priced cheaply enough that a block bonus with an assist is a big night, and that is not much to ask.
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Andrei Vasilevskiy (TB vs. CAR): DraftKings – $7,900 | FanDuel – $8,500
Tampa Bay, despite the injuries and offseason losses, remains a good defensive team. However, they are still looking at Carolina coming into town, one of the highest-volume shooting teams in the league, and volume is paramount when rostering an elite goalie at home at a DraftKings price that is not excessive. This is a dangerous game to play because Carolina can hang five goals here tonight. That said, Awesemo’s projections have Vasilevskiy top 10 by saves and 15th by goals tonight.
Top NHL DFS Stacks
Calgary 1: Tkachuk-Lindholm-Gaudreau
As mentioned in the section on Tkachuk, this is a great matchup for this line at five-on-five, and they are perfectly correlated on the power play. They are expensive, but it should keep ownership in check on them, as Boston is at home and McDavid is also on the slate. It is too good of a matchup and ownership rate to pass on for tonight.
Los Angeles 2: Iafallo-Danault-Athanasiou
While they are on a back-to-back, Los Angeles’s second line is a high-paced line on the season, as their on-ice shot attempt rate is well over 70 per 60 minutes. They are going to get the depth matchups from Montreal here, and with their injuries, there is not a lot of depth up front or on the blue line. In fact, with Tyler Toffoli and Nick Suzuki off the ice, the Canadiens are allowing 25% more goals and shots than with them on the ice. The Kings second line should be able to generate against this weak Montreal depth. They are coming in at low single-digit ownership as well.
*Additional stats from Natural Stat Trick.
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The NHL daily fantasy projections model was created and is maintained by Alex Baker and Jake Hari. The DFS hockey rankings for fantasy points and value are derived directly from Alex's own NHL DFS projections tonight. Find more DFS NHL picks tonight and DFS NHL lineups tonight as well as the best DFS NHL lineups tonight. Initial hockey DFS ownership projections for main slates will be posted daily by 4 p.m.
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