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Power Plays: NHL DFS Picks & Top Stacks for DraftKings + FanDuel with John Tavares | 4/29/21

Michael Clifford

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DraftKings NHL DFS Picks for daily fantasy hockey lineups. Awesemo's FREE cheat sheet with expert projections | John Tavares 5/1/21.

The NHL regular season is winding down, but there are still huge slates to discuss, including this 10-gamer ahead tonight. Let the folks at Awesemo help out by providing some NHL DFS picks for DraftKings and FanDuel lineups tonight. The players listed below are here for any mix of reasons. It could be a good value by our premium NHL DFS projections, it could be low ownership via our NHL DFS ownership projections, or simply a player in a new role. Be sure to check our Premium Slack chat through the day for lineup changes or updates.

For a little extra help in building your daily fantasy hockey lineups, be sure to check out our free DraftKings and FanDuel NHL DFS cheat sheets tonight.

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NHL Power Plays: DraftKings + FanDuel DFS Picks | April 29

NHL DFS Picks: Center

John Tavares (TOR vs. VAN)

DraftKings – $7,000

FanDuel – $6,900

It has been a very good April for Tavares, posting seven goals and 16 points in 13 games and averaging roughly 3.5 shots per game in that stretch. He has been playing genuinely good offensive hockey, too; he has a personal 1.04 ixG per 60 at five-on-five for the month, compared to 0.76 over his first 36 games. His on-ice expected goal rate has gone from 2.58 earlier in the season to 2.74 in April as well. All these are signs of a player really finding his offensive groove, so it’s no wonder he has put up such great point totals over the last four weeks.

The Maple Leafs are on a back-to-back but are home to Vancouver, a team that is near the bottom five in the league since mid-March by expected goals against. They had a big layoff in there and, outside of Braden Holtby, have looked pretty bad. This is a great matchup for Tavares and company, putting him and most Leafs stars on radars for tonight regardless of format. The added bonus is Vancouver’s penalty kill is atrocious, and they are one of the most penalized teams in that most recent stretch. Tavares comes in top 10 in Awesemo’s NHL DFS point projections (ninth among all skaters), yet he is outside the top-15 skaters by price on DraftKings. That is a value gap.

Sam Bennett (FLA at CHI)

DraftKings – $4,100

FanDuel – $4,000

Bennett has been on an absolute tear since being traded to Calgary, posting four goals and 10 points in seven games, averaging nearly 3.5 shots per game. All this is being done with over 18 minutes a night in ice time, and that includes top power-play minutes. That means that, while he probably won’t be a 100-point player, he’s probably the best positioned offensively he has been in years. His line has been excellent too, posting 3.1 expected goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five and a 69.8% expected goal share. He has been flat-out great for them.

While the Blackhawks have been good on the penalty kill of late, their five-on-five defense has been bottom 10 in the NHL, and their goals against is bottom five. This is a great even-strength matchup for Bennett, and his price is still very reasonable, at least compared to players with a 100-plus point pace over the last couple weeks. He is fine by himself but is probably best used in some sort of stack along with his linemates or Aleksander Barkov. Despite this not being a good special-teams matchup, the entire second line is on the top power-play unit for the Panthers. That kind of correlation is to be coveted.


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NHL DFS Picks: Winger

Kevin Fiala (MIN vs. STL)

DraftKings – $7,000

FanDuel – $6,300

A replay of a game from last night, Fiala is viable of his performance of late. Even with declining ice time, Fiala is managing nearly four shots per game (49 in 13 games) with 14 points in 13 April contests. That shot volume is just outstanding and is a big reason he’s here.

The other reason is that St. Louis just isn’t a good hockey team. They probably should be a good team, and they have a lot of good players, but they have the third-worst expected goal share in hockey in April and are neck-and-neck with New Jersey on the season as a whole. On top of that, St. Louis’ penalty kill has been bad, coming in 30th by expected goals against and 22nd by goals against in April. Seeing as Fiala will largely avoid the Ryan O’Reilly matchup, this is a great matchup at all strengths for Fiala. He makes a solid one-off for tonight, as exemplified by his less than 1% popularity, according to our NHL DFS ownership projections, given the lack of correlation with his linemates. He could even be used in some sort of power-play stack for the Wild. Just pay attention to pricing here; he is a considerably better value on FanDuel than on DraftKings.

Denis Gurianov (DAL at TB)

DraftKings – $4,100

FanDuel – $4,500

Gurianov is just a fun player to watch. He seems like a guy who just loves shooting the puck, and it has paid off in spades’ over the last two years, he has the same goals per 60 as Alex DeBrincat. Just this year alone, he has hit the shot bonus on six occasions, and despite not playing heavy minutes, he is averaging 2.5 shots per game over his last 10 games.

Gurianov has found a home on Dallas’s excellent second line where he, Jamie Benn and Jason Dickinson have combined for 3.1 goals per 60 minutes in their 131 minutes together. Their 63.5 expected goal share should create a mismatch with most secondary lines. Tampa Bay still can roll three lines even with their injuries, but Gurianov should miss the Yanni Gourde matchup from the Lightning, and that’s important here tonight.

Given the lack of correlation with the top power-play unit, Gurianov is a one-off target in any format tonight. It is not an easy matchup, but he’s a good goal scorer on a great line at a reasonable price. Awesemo’s current NHL DFS ownership projections have him coming in under 1%, which is perfect for a one-off tournament option.

Janne Kuokkanen (NJ vs. PHI)

DraftKings – $3,300

FanDuel – $3,400

Speaking of guys playing on great lines, it is time to talk about Kuokkanen. He would be on pace for over 40 points in a full 82-game season, which is a good mark for a rookie on such a bad team. But it’s his line that makes him a particular target here tonight: They have combined for 2.8 expected goals per 60 minutes and a 65.4% expected goal share. While the huge goal numbers haven’t been there, the process has, and Awesemo likes good five-on-five lines.

Philadelphia was in New Jersey a couple days ago and Hughes’s line largely got depth matchups. That means Kuokkanen will avoid the Sean Couturier matchup, which, now that he’s healthy, is a matchup to avoid. With the top line off the ice, the Flyers are just above break-even by expected goals for/against, and that makes Kuokkanen a cheap target tonight. His price and the lack of correlation with linemates is what makes him a one-off. Just beware that he’s not a volume shooter, so using him in cash games is a decision that is fraught with peril.

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NHL DFS Picks: Defensemen

Mark Giordano (CGY at EDM)

DraftKings – $6,100

FanDuel – $5,900

The injury to Noah Hanifin has meant more minutes to go around, and in the two games without him, Giordano has averaged 25:47 and is running the top power-play unit. Conversely, for most of the season, he was around 22:30 with secondary power-play minutes. His outlook has changed wildly over the last week compared to most of the season.

On the year, Giordano is averaging just under two blocks per game (1.90) and just over two shots (2.30). Keep in mind, most of that is playing 22 to 23 minutes, not 25 to 26. That just means even more minutes to accumulate those peripherals.

Calgary gets an Edmonton team that is playing back-to-back on the road, having played last night in Winnipeg. That is a good situation for the Flames, even if Edmonton’s penalty kills has improved over the last four weeks. Giordano’s price puts him among the top-end options, but he’ll probably be under-owned because he’s not held his current role for very long. He is a fine option in any format tonight, but the preference would be to use him as a one-off in tournaments.

Brett Pesce (CAR vs. DET)

DraftKings – $3,800

FanDuel – $4,200

Were this a full season, Pesce would be on pace for 120 shots, 120 blocks, and 40 points. That is a very good year for most any defenseman, let alone one priced in his range on either fantasy site. Over his last 10 games, he has added nearly a minute of ice time (23:44) compared to earlier in the year (22:50), so they’re starting to lean on him a bit more as they get closer to playoffs. Do not forget that the winner of the Central Division probably will get one of Nashville/Dallas as an opponent, while the other matchup will feature the Lightning, presumably with Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos back in the lineup. Even with a playoff spot locked up, the Hurricanes have a lot to play for.

Pesce gets secondary power-play minutes, and Detroit has a bottom-10 penalty kill by expected goals against in the month of April. They don’t take a lot of penalties, which could cut into Pesce’s upside, but he’s a genuinely great puck mover. And with Teuvo Teravainen back, this team is nearly back to full health. Pesce makes a lot of sense tonight for those not spending up to Dougie Hamilton. Hamilton is the No. 1-owned player in the Awesemo NHL DFS ownership projections for tonight’s slate, so Pesce is a way to avoid that chalk.

Top Goalie

Jonathan Bernier (DET at CAR)

DraftKings – $7,000

FanDuel – $6,700

Most any matchup Detroit has will be a bad matchup. But tonight, at least, the Red Wings get a Hurricanes team that is fourth in shot rate in the month of April. That means Bernier is on the radar as a possible candidate for a 35-save bonus on DraftKings. Carolina is a top-10 scoring team, so this could be a game where Bernier allows three goals on eight shots and is out after 10 minutes, but those are the same guys that can win tournaments. For those looking for a cheap option, look no further than Bernier.

Top Stacks

TOR2: Galchenyuk – Tavares – Nylander

The second line for Toronto has been excellent since being assembled, combining for 2.7 expected goals per 60 minutes, 2.6 actual goals and a 60.2% expected goal share. On top of that, Tavares and Nylander play on the top power-play unit for the Leafs, and their expected goals for rate at five-on-four is second in the NHL in April. All that is holding them back is a 7.7% shot rate that will climb. Even on a back-to-back, they get a good matchup and should be a target here tonight.

DAL2: Dickinson – Benn – Gurianov

As mentioned in the section on Gurianov, the Dallas second line has been excellent this year. This is also a team with a lot to fight for, as they are in the thick of a playoff race. Avoiding the Gourde shutdown line is the benefit in this matchup, and their price allows for a higher-priced stack. They will be low-owned tonight, and Tampa Bay has allowed more goals per 60 minutes this month than Anaheim. They should at least be on the radar of fantasy owners tonight because of their bargain price.


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