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NHL DFS Picks & Stacks for DraftKings & FanDuel Lineups | Tampa Bay Lightning & Jack Hughes 3/12/22

Michael Clifford

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It is a middle-of-the-road eight-game slate tonight in the NHL, but it’s also the evening of DraftKings Fantasy Hockey World Championships. It is a big day in the NHL DFS world, so let’s take our time going through some NHL DFS picks. Subscribers should check the Discord for updates through the day, and for non-subscribers, we have our projections free for everyone to view today on the site. Let’s dive into some of the best fantasy hockey picks from our NHL DFS optimizer for DraftKings and FanDuel NHL lineups.

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NHL DFS Picks Today, Top Stacks & Lineup Optimizer Plays

Center

Jack Hughes (NJD vs. ANA): DraftKings – $6,700 | FanDuel – $8,400

The big knock on Jack Hughes heading into the season was whether he would develop the ability to score; his playmaking and transition skills were never in doubt. He has started to answer that question with 18 goals in 38 games on the season, shooting 14.7%. That might be a tad high, but even 12% would have him on an 82-game pace for over 30 goals. It seems he’s started to find that finishing touch, and it has transformed him as both a real-life player and a fantasy player.

It is the matchup tonight that is particularly appealing. The Ducks recently put three top-9 forwards on the injured reserve and Trevor Zegras missed their last game. They didn’t have a lot of depth to begin with, so their middle-of-the-road 5-on-5 team defense is going to suffer. Anaheim is also in the bottom-5 of the league in expected goals against while short-handed over the last six weeks, so it’s a good power-play matchup for Hughes. He has also skated at least 20 minutes in five straight games.

For tournaments tonight, Hughes and his linemates are most definitely in play. With the power-play matchup, using him in a power-play stack is just fine as well.

Dylan Strome (CHI at OTT): DraftKings – $5,000 | FanDuel – $5,600

While the long-term value of Dylan Strome is still to be determined, his role on the top line cannot be ignored. He is skating with Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane, two of the most talented offensive wingers in the league. That has pushed his ice time over 19 minutes a game spanning his last eight games, never skating under 17 in any of them. It’s a far cry from the 15 minutes a night up to that point. The line itself is playing well, generating 2.8 expected goals per 60 minutes in their time together. That is high for a team that hasn’t been very good this year, and their 4.2 actual goals per 60 minutes speaks to the talent this trio has.

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Of course, like Hughes, it’s the matchup that is appealing here. Ottawa is in the bottom-10 of the league in expected goals allowed both at 5-on-5 and short-handed since the start of February, a span of 18 games. Injuries and inexperience have started to pile up for this young team.

Given the quality of his linemates, it would be hard to use Strome by himself without at least one of his wingers. But the line is in a very good matchup for tournaments, so some sort of top-line stack makes sense.

With Strome being a winger on FanDuel, a mid-tier center to look towards is Roope Hintz (DAL – $6,600).

Winger

Brad Marchand (BOS vs. ARI): DraftKings – $7,500 | FanDuel – $8,500

Brad Marchand hasn’t scored in six straight games, the longest streak of the season for him. It hasn’t been for lack of trying, though, as he has landed 19 shots on goal in those contests. Still, managing over three shots per game while skating around 18:30 a night is a sign that this cold streak isn’t necessarily a function of not being involved offensively. Rather, this seems to be a function of percentages, and those can fluctuate a lot in small samples.

With Jake DeBrusk on the top line, Boston is generating 36 scoring chances and 3.4 expected goals per 60 minutes. They control 71% of the scoring chances, and those are all fantastic numbers for that line. The problem, again, is percentages, as they’re shooting 4.2% in their sample together. Again, percentages fluctuate, and this is a dominant line simply going through a conversion crunch.

Arizona coming to town means a team that is allowing the most expected goals in the league since Feb. 1 is visiting. That means it’s a great matchup for Marchand and his linemates. The problem is that they will carry a lot of ownership given that matchup, so finding less chalky spots elsewhere may be necessary.

Marchand and a bevy of other Bruins players were popping in the NHL DFS optimizer today when running optimal lineups. Check out all of our free NHL DFS picks today by viewing our DraftKings Fantasy Hockey Cheat Sheet and FanDuel Fantasy Hockey Cheat Sheet.

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Johnny Gaudreau (CGY vs. DET): DraftKings – $7,300 | FanDuel – $8,700

A big concern with Johnny Gaudreau these days is lowered ice time. Since the All-Star break, he has cracked the 20-minute mark just once and has been down around 16 minutes a few times. The flipside of that is he has 23 points in 15 games in that span because his line is one of the most dominant offensive lines in hockey. It isn’t hyperbole, either: of the 43 line combinations with at least 200 minutes together this year, they are fourth in goals per 60 minutes and fourth again in expected goal share. They haven’t slowed down at all, so the ice time concerns are alleviated a bit, at least for tournaments.

Detroit is in town and that is a good matchup for Calgary. Since early February, the Red Wings are in the bottom-5 by expected goals against and dead last in actual goals allowed at 5-on-5. The penalty kill is nearly as bad — or worse, by some metrics — so Calgary’s top line is really in a great spot here.

In tournaments, using him with his linemates is a good idea. During Gaudreau’s hot streak, his linemates have 45 points in the 15 games. They will be popular like Boston, so just beware of chalky fillers.

Andreas Athanasiou (LAK at SJS): DraftKings – $3,200 | FanDuel  – $4,500

By some metrics, it has been a good season for Andreas Athanasiou, at least when he’s been in the lineup. He is fifth among Kings forwards in shot attempts per 60 minutes, which is usually a good first step. He is also one of three Kings forwards with a zone entry percentage over 70%, along with Anze Kopitar and Phillip Danault. That is something that can lead to more shots and scoring chances than just dumping the puck in, so he can do more than just shoot the puck.

Going into San Jose isn’t a particularly tough matchup. They have gotten back a couple healthy bodies recently – and we’ll talk about one of those guys shortly – but even before the injuries they were no better than a middle-of-the-pack defensive team. Things have gotten much worse since, and it’s a long hill to climb, even if Erik Karlsson is back. Athanasiou will also not get the top-line matchup from the Sharks, and with that line off the ice since the start of 2022, the team controls just 41% of the expected goals. They are bad.

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At his price, the winger is fine as a one-off in tournaments. Of course, a line stack is acceptable as well.


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Defensemen

Evan Bouchard (EDM vs. TBL): DraftKings – $5,100 | FanDuel – $5,300

Evan Bouchard has taken over the top power-play role in Edmonton, and that’s a very valuable position. The matchup with Tampa Bay is a difficult one, but there is one weakness for the Lightning: the penalty kill. Over the last six weeks, the Lightning PK is 27th by expected goals against, nestled between Detroit and Ottawa. They are 24th by actual goals against per 60 minutes in that span, so it’s really not going well when they’re down a man. That is what makes Bouchard valuable here tonight. That and he can bring some peripherals, if not a lot.

Tampa Bay is one of the best teams in the league at 5-on-5, and that is what makes this a tough matchup. It makes us have to consider the top options from Edmonton very carefully. But Bouchard is on pace for surpassing 40 points this year in his first full season, one indication of his puck-moving prowess. He is most certainly in play for us in tournaments tonight, particularly where he’s not one of the most expensive options.

Erik Karlsson (SJS vs. LAK): DraftKings – $5,200 | FanDuel – $6,100

There were concerns about Karlsson returning to the lineup and how effective he might be. Well, he played nearly 26 minutes in his first game back, posting a pair of assists and three shots on goal. Not a bad returning effort. On the other side of this game are the Kings, a team that may be without Drew Doughty. He missed their last game and did not travel with the team for this one. Assuming he’s out, Los Angeles are missing their shutdown defenseman; the team allows about 10% more expected goals with him off the ice than on.

Karlsson doesn’t bring a lot for peripherals but he’s a tremendous playmaker and the Kings are coming into town short-handed. He makes a lot of sense in some sort of top-line or power-play stack for the Sharks here tonight.

Goalie

Karel Vejmelka (ARI at BOS): DraftKings – $7,100 | FanDuel – $6,700

The Bruins are undoubtedly the much better team here but that’s also what makes Karel Vejmelka an interesting tournament goalie tonight. Boston is seventh in shot attempts taken at 5-on-5 over the last six weeks while the Coyotes are allowing the second-most shot attempts. That could lead to a long night in net for Vejmelka, because Boston finding their scoring touch in a lopsided matchup like this could lead to a lot of goals. On the other hand, he could have a very big game if they don’t, as he’s done this year against teams like Calgary, Toronto, and Colorado.

Top NHL DFS Stacks Today

TB1: Kucherov-Point-Palat

This line was reunited recently after some experimentation, and it’s probably a good idea they did: they are scoring nearly four goals per 60 minutes together this year, controlling 57% of the expected goals. They are dominant, and that is part of what makes them a target. The other part is that their opponent tonight, the Edmonton Oilers, are among the most penalized teams in the NHL since the beginning of last month. Their penalty kill has also started to slide in recent weeks as the team goes through some injuries, and this all makes a very good matchup for Tampa Bay’s power play tonight. Two of the three guys on this line are on that unit, so this trio is a target for us.

SEA1: McCann-Eberle-Johansson

For whatever reason, Seattle is really splitting the ice time across the team. It has helped them to 11 losses in 12 games. Regardless, this particular trio has been Seattle’s best line all year, controlling 52% of the scoring chances when they’re on the ice. They face a Montreal team that has improved their offense with their new coach but their team defense, as expressed by expected goals allowed, are in the Buffalo/Ottawa neighborhood, which is not a good place to be. Great goaltending has saved them at times, but not every time. That is why this line from Seattle can find success tonight, and the reasonable price reflects the ice-time concerns.

*Additional stats from Natural Stat Trick


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

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