The NHL always gives us large slates on Saturdays, and this one isn’t one to disappoint. There are 11 games on the slate tonight, with some really great stacking options and one-offs to target. 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 us go position by position and pinpoint some of the top plays and stacks for Saturday, Dec. 11.
NHL DFS Picks, Tops Stacks & Lineup Optimizer Plays
John Tavares (TOR vs. CHI): DraftKings – $7,200 | FanDuel – $8,600
With the Chicago Blackhawks in town, Toronto is sure to garner a lot of ownership. Now that Ondrej Kase is on the top line, they are more playable than they have been. But it also should take a bit of attention away from John Tavares and company tonight.
Tavares’s line, over the last month, has seen a resurgence offensively: three expected goals and 33 scoring chances per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. They are still struggling in their own end, but the Blackhawks are not a strong possession team themselves, so those concerns are minimal. It is the expected goals that matter here, as Alex Kerfoot and Tavares were closer to 2.2 per 60 minutes. Increased shot quality against an average defensive team is a good sign.
The power-play matchup is the driver here. Chicago’s penalty kill under its new coach is allowing the fourth-most shot attempts and eighth-most goals per 60 minutes. Toronto’s power play, in that same span, is in the top 5 of the NHL. Tavares is fine as a one-off in tournaments or as part of a line stack, but he’s more valuable on DraftKings than FanDuel. Just keep Kase in mind for the stacks, as his price is far too low for someone earning top-line and top power-play minutes. He also correlates with Tavares & Co., on that power play.
Vincent Trocheck (CAR at EDM): DraftKings – $4,500 | FanDuel – $5,100
While skating with a rookie isn’t always a great thing, Vincent Trocheck’s on-ice rates seem just fine with Seth Jarvis: over 60 shot attempts and 2.5 expected goals per 60 minutes. Those are both well above average. The problem is the line isn’t finishing, shooting just 3% at 5-on-5. That won’t last and this has been a good offensive line, they’ve just been snakebit.
Going into Edmonton tonight should afford Trocheck the second-line matchup from Edmonton. With that line on the ice, the Oilers control just 46% of the shot attempts and 43% of the scoring chances. They are getting bailed out by great goaltending, something else that cannot sustain itself.
The final note here is Edmonton’s penalty kill. It is 25th by expected goals against and 21st by actual goals against over the last month. Trocheck is a fixture of the top power-play unit for Carolina and that only adds more value to his profile for tonight. Neither of his wingers skate with him on the top power-play unit, so using him as a one-off tonight makes a lot of sense, given his role on the power play. Of course, with Jarvis being so cheap, a two-man from that second line is fine as well.
Kirill Kaprizov (MIN at LAK): DraftKings – $7,500 | FanDuel – $8,000
Tonight will be Kirill Kaprizov’s 82nd game in the NHL. For his career, he has 83 points. That he’s been over a point-per-game since entering the league, regardless of being an older rookie, is remarkable. More than the points, though, are the shots. His 5-on-5 shot rate is up over 20% from last year and that has helped him add a half-shot per game to his profile. That may not sound like a lot, but he already has six DraftKings shot bonuses on the season in 26 games. He had just eight in 56 games last year. The point-per-game rate, on top of being a genuine shot-volume threat, is what makes him so valuable in fantasy this year. Tonight, our ownership has him under 5%, so he won’t be heavily targeted by tournament players.
The matchup against Los Angeles isn’t particularly difficult anymore. The top line is playing at a much higher pace, and it’s resulting in 3.6 expected goals and 33 scoring chances against per 60 minutes. They have been getting .940 goaltending, which has helped keep them afloat. Regardless, playing at a high pace against Kaprizov’s line, one of the top offensive lines in the league this year, is a dangerous game. The second-year winger’s shot rate makes him viable as a one-off tonight, or he can be used in a stack with his line mates.
Pavel Buchnevich (STL vs. MTL): DraftKings – $4,700 | FanDuel – $6,300
One problem with Pavel Buchnevich in fantasy this year is his even-strength line mates have infrequently been on his power-play line as well. That has changed as Buchnevich, Ivan Barbashev and Vladimir Tarasenko all look to be lined up both at 5-on-5 and on the power play together as well. That added correlation makes Buchnevich more valuable in tournaments than at most points this season.
He doesn’t need correlated line mates to succeed, though. He is on pace for about 70 points and 250 shots, which would be a huge season. The three shots per game are what’s valuable here, as he has four DraftKings shot bonuses on the year, so he doesn’t even need goals and assists for good value this evening; there are reasons besides goals why he leads our projections tonight for wingers under $5,000 on DraftKings.
Montreal is in town and the team has been decimated by injuries. Including goaltender Carey Price, they are missing no fewer than 10 starters out of their 20-man lineup. They were a borderline playoff team at full strength. This is, arguably, the worst defensive team in the league at the moment because of all that missing depth. The Blues will be popular, but that’s no reason to ignore them completely, and Buchnevich’s price on DraftKings is particularly appealing.
Buchnevich was popping up as one of the best plays of the night in the Awesemo NHL lineup optimizer today. Check out all of our free NHL DFS lineup picks tonight in our DraftKings NHL cheat sheet and FanDuel NHL cheat sheet.
T.J. Oshie (WSH at BUF): DraftKings – $4,100 | FanDuel – $6,100
Going into Buffalo tonight, T.J. Oshie should escape the defensive matchup from the Dylan Cozens line. With them on the ice, the Sabres are controlling over 50% of the shots and 58% of the expected goals over the last month. When they’re off the ice, those numbers fall to 46% and 43%, respectively. The top line is generating chances, but giving up a lot as well, and the depth just isn’t there on a bottom-end team. Oshie will get great in-game matchups, regardless of which line he faces.
On the Washington side, Oshie and line mate Connor McMichael have shown good chemistry this year. With the two of them on the ice, the Caps are sporting a 61% shot share and 69% scoring chance share. Those are dominant numbers in a sample surpassing 80 minutes now. In a soft matchup, this line should be looked at.
What makes Oshie particularly special is that he also plays the top power-play unit for the Caps. He, obviously, isn’t the focus of their power play — Alex Ovechkin is — those minutes are valuable. He is fine by himself in tournaments or as part of a stack, either with his line or with the man advantage. This is another player with much better DraftKings value, too.
Jakob Chychrun (ARI vs. PHI): DraftKings – $6,900 | FanDuel – $5,000
It has been an absolutely brutal first two months for Jakob Chychrun, with just seven points in 25 games. Arizona is certainly a bad offensive team, but he’s getting truly unlucky: the team is shooting under 4.5% with him on the ice, having averaged 7.9% the previous three years. The team also welcomed playmaker Nick Schmaltz back to the lineup yesterday, having missed all season due to injury. The team will start scoring more with him on the ice, just not a lot.
Part of his appeal is the peripherals he can bring. He’s averaging over three shots per game and also has three block bonuses on the season. That plays well over on DraftKings.
The rest of his appeal for tonight is the matchup against Philadelphia. While the Coyotes are a poor defensive team, the Flyers may be worse: last by shot attempts allowed over the last month at 5-on-5 and last by scoring chances allowed. They are also on a back-to-back (as are the Coyotes, but they’re at home). Chychrun is fine to use as a tournament option tonight on the blue line, specifically on FanDuel where he’s priced so much cheaper.
Jake Bean (CBJ at SEA): DraftKings – $3,100 | FanDuel – $3,900
In Columbus’s last game, Adam Boqvist was injured and as a result, Jake Bean played nearly 27 minutes. While he won’t play that much tonight, without Boqvist, Bean should be well north of 20 minutes, having played 23 a couple times recently even with Boqvist there. While Seattle has been a fine defensive team, their goaltending remains the worst in the league and shows no sign of letting up. Bean playing that many minutes at his price against goaltenders this bad should draw our interest.
Bean isn’t a household name, but he is skating on the top pair, the second power-play unit, and is cheap tonight. That combination isn’t frequent, so we have to at least consider him in tournaments this evening. He makes sense by himself at his price, as he’s a punt option that enables us to get to more expensive stacks.
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John Gibson (ANA at PIT): DraftKings – $7,600 | FanDuel – $7,300
The Pittsburgh Penguins will be without both Bryan Rust and Jake Guentzel, as both are injured. Being without their two best scoring wingers means a lot of punch missing from the Penguins lineup. John Gibson, on the other hand, is priced down on the road and has been steady for the Ducks this year with a .917 save percentage. Pittsburgh should still be able to generate shots, so Gibson is among the leaders in expected saves tonight, and the price is appealing. He is a tournament goalie target for us.
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TOR PP: Matthews-Kase-Rielly
The kindest thing that can be said of the Chicago penalty kill over the last month is that they’re in the bottom-5. They may be the worst penalty kill in hockey right now, and that’s saying something with Ottawa and Arizona putting up competition. With Kase on the top Toronto power-play unit, it is much cheaper now, and this is a great special team matchup.
Seattle’s top line has been very good this year, controlling 56% of the shot attempts and 63% of the expected goals on the year. The way their matchups work is they often see second and third lines, and those lines are allowing the most scoring chances for the team, rather than the top line, of late. They have depth matchups and a reasonable price across the industry, and are also coming in at 2% ownership by our Top Stacks tool. Seattle’s top line is a target for us.
*Additional stats from Natural Stat Trick
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The NHL daily fantasy rankings for fantasy points and value are derived directly from Alex's own best NHL DFS projections. The most accurate NHL DFS projections model was created and is maintained by Alex Baker and Jake Hari. Find more Yahoo! DFS NHL and NHL DFS today as well as the best NHL DFS picks. Initial best NHL DFS ownership projections for main slates will be posted daily by 4 p.m.
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