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NHL DFS Picks & Stacks for DraftKings & FanDuel Lineups | Pittsburgh Penguins and Artemi Panarin 11/24/21

Michael Clifford



Thanksgiving Eve brings the biggest NHL DFS slate of the season, with 14 games on tap tonight. As always, this Power Play article will use Awesemo’s Premium NHL Tools to help dole out the NHL DFS advice to help with building lineups on DraftKings and FanDuel tonight. The Awesemo NHL projections and ownership projections are two of the best tools to utilize when constructing stacks and making the optimal NHL DFS picks. Let’s go position by position and pinpoint some of the top plays and stacks for Wednesday, Nov. 24.

NHL DFS Picks, Tops Stacks & Lineup Optimizer Plays


Sidney Crosby (PIT vs. VAN)

DraftKings – $6,800 | FanDuel – $7,400

It has been a tough start to the year for the future Olympian as Sidney Crosby started the year injured, and then caught COVID just after his return. He has only played six games on the year, with two points in those games.

It is taking time for Crosby and his linemates to get back in sync. Since his return, the line has generated just 50 shot attempts and 2.1 expected goals per 60 minutes. That is far from the 57/2.5 they posted last season. The good news is Vancouver is in town tonight and the Canucks are mediocre-to-bad on all fronts defensively: 18th by shot attempts against and 20th by expected goals against this month at five-on-five, coupled with a penalty kill that is near or at the bottom of the league across several categories. Crosby has not quite looked himself yet, but this is a good matchup to get back on track.

Tonight ownership is not a concern, as he is outside the top 10 center ownership marks. There are too many games and too many top-end talents. That leaves Crosby low-owned, which is probably correct given his performance so far this year. But this line has been elite in the past and now has a handful of games under their belt. He is fine as a one-off in tournaments or in part of a stack.

Tomas Hertl (SJ vs. OTT)

DraftKings – $4,500 | FanDuel – $5,900

Both teams have had to endure their share of COVID battles, but Ottawa is just returning from theirs, this being their second game since being shut down. There has not been a lot of skating for many of the Senators players, so that should be advantage San Jose tonight.

For Tomas Hertl, his problem is a lack of help. His linemates of Noah Gregor and Alex Barabanov have 27 career points between them, and neither is a high-end prospect. Hertl will have to do a lot of heavy lifting on his line, but he has elite offensive and defensive impacts. He can carry a line in soft matchups, and he will get a lot of those against the ailing depth of this Ottawa team.

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Hertl is averaging a six-year high in shot rate at five-on-five and he is getting that ice time to go with it. Even when they were healthy, Ottawa was, at best, an average defensive team. He may not boast the linemates to help, but Hertl may not need it in a matchup such as this. Hertl is the best center value on DraftKings for any center between $4,000-$5,000. He is the mid-range pivot target.

Hertl was coming to the top of the NHL lineup optimizer today when running optimals. Check out more of Awesemo’s free daily fantasy hockey picks tonight in the DraftKings NHL cheat sheet and FanDuel NHL cheat sheet.


Artemi Panarin (NYR at NYI)

DraftKings – $7,500 | FanDuel – $7,700

Both teams from New York have had rough start. The long road trip for the Islanders saw them return home under .500, lose a pair of games, and get hit by COVID. The Rangers are third in the division but anyone watching the team knows how much Igor Shesterkin has factored into that. Goaltending is not reliable every night.

Those COVID problems are an issue for the Islanders, though. As it was, this team was in the bottom-3 of the league in shot attempts and scoring chances against at five-on-five. They cannot afford to lose the depth they have, but Anders Lee, Josh Bailey and Zdeno Chara have all hit the list. That is where Artemi Panarin comes in.

Despite the struggles, Panarin is still over a point-per-game on the season. After a slow start that saw him post 21 shots in 13 games, he has 22 over his last 5 contests. He will not keep that pace up, but he is showing signs of offensive life. The Islanders do not pose the same matchup problems they have in recent seasons. Panarin is a fine tournament option by himself or with his linemates at very low ownership – under 3% in the first run.

Kyle Connor (WPG at CBJ)

DraftKings – $7,700 | FanDuel – $9,100

At the risk of having two high-priced wingers in this column, this does appear to be a very good matchup for Kyle Connor. Beyond that, his circumstances have changed a lot this season and are worth briefly discussing.

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Connor’s personal shot rate, per minute, has increased every season in the NHL. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, but he has jumped two seasons in a row now and is near 20 shot attempts/60 minutes. With his level of ice time, he is a shot-bonus threat every single night. Because of all these minutes and shots, Connor is the top winger by raw projected points priced between $7,000 and $8,000 on DraftKings.

He is also forming a formidable duo with Pierre-Luc Dubois, as the team generates 67 shot attempts and 3.2 expected goals per 60 minutes with them on the ice. They are also going into a Columbus top line that is good but plays at a very high pace; over 140 shot attempts for and against per 60 minutes. Connor is one of the top snipers in hockey who shoots a lot, plays a lot, and is in a fast-paced matchup. That is a tournament one-off target on DraftKings. He is too expensive on FanDuel.

Zach Sanford (OTT at SJ)

DraftKings – $2,900 | FanDuel – $3,400

On the other side of the aforementioned San Jose matchups is Zach Sanford and the Senators. He was moved to the top line towards the end of their game against Colorado and stayed there in practice. He joins Josh Norris and Brady Tkachuk on the top line, the absolute best spot to be on this roster with their injury problems right now.

While not a household name, Sanford is not a nothing player, either. He averaged 16 goals per 82 games for St. Louis in three full-ish seasons, playing third-line minutes. That is fine production out of that spot, and he does not need to be much more than fine to benefit from his current role.

This is a punt play for tournaments. He is priced where he is because he is typically a third-liner, but he can have success against a mediocre San Jose team and skating on the top line. The bonus here is that he was also getting some secondary power-play minutes, so there is a real chance he can replicate 15 to 16 minutes again rather than skating 12 to 13 as he had most of the season. He just does not play the power play with his linemates, which is one reason he may be better as a one-off than as part of a stack tonight.


Aaron Ekblad (FLA vs. PHI)

DraftKings – $7,100 | FanDuel – $6,500

The Philadelphia penalty kill was referenced in the Power Plays article yesterday, but for anyone just jumping in today, since the start of November, the Flyers are second-to-last by shot attempts against and are also allowing 35% more expected goals than the next-worst team. They are being supported by unsustainable goaltending because this penalty kill is atrocious.

Step in Aaron Ekblad and the Panthers. They are without Aleksander Barkov, but still have high-end talent all through the lineup, and enough for a good top power play unit. Ekblad will run that unit against this awful penalty kill, and that is what makes him appealing for tournaments.

In cash games, Ekblad just cannot stack up. He is one of the most expensive defensemen on the slate but does not block shots. The lack of those peripherals makes him a real cash-game concern. In tournaments, though, it is a great special teams matchup, and Ekblad should be considered in Florida power-play stacks. He can even be used as a one-off; he has had big nights this year without entire lines being great. He can do it tonight, though he is obviously a better value on FanDuel than DraftKings.

Sam Girard (COL vs. ANA)

DraftKings – $3,500 | FanDuel – $5,000

This is about looking for cheaper plays among the elite teams tonight. Colorado is at home to Anaheim tonight, and though the Ducks are in improved team, they are still just middle of the pack defensively. That is not good enough against an Avalanche team leading the league in scoring this month.

Sam Girard is not a big shooter, which is one reason he is priced where he is. But his playmaking skills from the blue line are very good, and he even has a pair of block bonuses on DraftKings this year (falling one block short several times). He is a target tonight in what could be a high-paced offensive matchup in any format, but much more so on DraftKings than FanDuel.

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Jonathan Quick (LA vs. TOR)

DraftKings – $7,500 | FanDuel – $7,800

While facing Toronto is not necessarily ideal, the Leafs are fourth in shot rate on the season at five-on-five and Jonathan Quick is in a home matchup. Only the Seattle, Buffalo, and Arizona goalies are cheaper home options tonight on DraftKings, and those teams are facing Carolina, Boston, and Edmonton, respectively. Quick is currently sporting a high-danger save percentage that is among the league leaders.

Top NHL DFS Stacks

PIT1: Crosby-Rust-Guentzel

All the reasons mentioned in the Crosby section to play him also apply to his linemates. What is more is that they are being priced down, at least on DraftKings, where entire line comes in at $18,600. This is a line that, if they get a few good games in, will be over $20,000 in a hurry. They are underpriced, assuming they are healthy, and they are coming in with good leverage by Awesemo’s Top Stacks Tool.

NJ1: Hischier-Zacha-Tatar

This could be a high-event game with a lot of power plays: these two teams are second and third in the league by short-handed opportunities given. Both Pavel Zacha and Tomas Tatar are expected on the top power play, so using them with their center Nico Hischier or a defenseman is just fine. The other side of this matchup is that they should see a lot of Kirill Kaprizov’s line, and they figure to be weaker defensively than their other top-2 lines. They will carry low single-digit ownership tonight too.

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Find more NHL DFS predictions and NHL DFS lines as well as the best NHL DFS picks for today. The best DFS NHL projections model was created and is maintained by Alex Baker and Jake Hari. The daily fantasy sports rankings NHL for fantasy points and value are derived directly from Alex's own NHL DFS projections tonight. Initial daily fantasy hockey ownership projections for main slates will be posted daily by 4 p.m.
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