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Power Plays: NHL DFS Picks & Top Stacks for DraftKings + FanDuel with Leon Draisaitl | 5/6/21

Michael Clifford

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Free NHL FanDuel picks cheat sheet with the best daily fantasy hockey plays and optimal NHL DFS lineups using Awesemo's lineup optimizer.

The NHL regular season is winding down, but that doesn’t mean NHL DFS has to stop. Thursday presents to us a six-game slate, which is more than enough to peruse some NHL DFS picks and make a lineup – or 150 – for DraftKings and FanDuel. All of the picks and plays in this Power Plays article are based on Awesemo’s expert NHL DFS projections, ownership projections and Top Stacks Tool.

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NHL Power Plays: DraftKings + FanDuel DFS Picks | May 6

NHL DFS Picks: Center

Connor McDavid (EDM vs. VAN)

DraftKings – $9,100

FanDuel – $9,300

In these Power Play articles, the goal is to avoid using the high-priced players because they’re obvious. Yes, of course McDavid is a good play today. He is a good play every day. So is Nathan MacKinnon, so is Auston Matthews. That McDavid is a good play today isn’t a shock. But there is a reason to include him for today, and it’s not only because he’s first in Awesemo’s NHL DFS projections by nearly 10% more fantasy points than second-place Leon Draisaitl. At this point, it’s just to point out how bad Vancouver is. It is not their fault specifically given they had a brutal COVID bout as a team, but since returning, the Canucks are 29th by expected goals against at five-on-five, 28th by actual goals against at five-on-five and are barely edging out Detroit to not be last by expected goal share.

McDavid looks as if he’s on a mission to wrap up the MVP, putting up a whopping 30 points in 14 games since the start of April. No matter the contest tonight, it seems foolish leaving McDavid out of lineups. He is in a great spot and is still motivated to produce.

Vincent Trocheck (CAR vs. CHI)

DraftKings – $6,400

FanDuel – $5,800

Trocheck was injured for a few weeks back in March, and there was concern it would slow him down like injuries have in the past. In the 20 games since returning from injury, he has 19 points and is averaging 2.5 shots per game. It seems as if he’s still doing just fine.

Carolina also has something to play for. They haven’t completely wrapped up first place, needing one more point to do so. Wrapping up first also avoids Tampa Bay in the first round, so it’s kind of important. Trocheck also is coming in with much lower in the Awesemo NHL DFS ownership projections than Sebastian Aho.

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For as bad as Vancouver is, highlighted in the McDavid section, Chicago is the only team that has been worse than the Canucks defensively over the last three weeks. Trocheck’s line has a 2.9 expected goal rate at five-on-five and a 57.1% expected goal share. He also gets top power-play minutes, which is good because his total ice time has declined since returning. Trochek doesn’t need 20 minutes to put up big numbers against this horrific Chicago team, though, especially where he’s so cheap on FanDuel.


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NHL DFS Picks: Winger

Jake Guentzel (PIT vs. BUF)

DraftKings – $6,800

FanDuel – $7,600

At the top of things to play for, the Penguins are in a race with the Capitals for first in the division. The winner gets the Islanders, who’ve been sliding of late, while the loser gets Boston, who look like the best team in hockey over the last month. In other words, though this is a lopsided game, Pittsburgh should offer a good effort.

There really isn’t a matchup that can stop the Penguins here tonight. The duo of Victor Olofsson and Sam Reinhart has a 42.4% expected goal share, while the Casey Mittelstadt line has a 38.2% expected goal share. And those are their top two lines. Conversely, Pittsburgh’s top line is one of the best in hockey, and Guentzel is locked into a point-per-game season, the first of his career if not counting his injury-shortened season last year. This is a lopsided matchup for the Penguins, and that puts Guentzel and his linemates firmly on his radar. If people want to save some money and use Bryan Rust instead of Guentzel, there are no issues. They are somewhat interchangeable when factoring in price.

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Craig Smith (BOS vs. NYR)

DraftKings – $4,500

FanDuel – $4,800

To be blunt, Boston’s second line has been one of the best lines in hockey since being assembled, full stop. It has been about a month as a trio, and Taylor Hall, David Krejci and Smith have averaged three expected goals per 60 minutes as a line; that has converted to nearly five actual goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five. They are controlling 64.7% of the expected goals too. This is complete dominance very much on par with what the top line can do.

The problem is they don’t get the power-play minutes the top line does. That kind of caps their upside, but Hall has put up 5 points in five games, Krejci has 8, and Smith has 5. This line is on a tear, and they face a Rangers team playing three in four nights, have had all the off-ice turmoil and now are without Artemi Panarin, Ryan Lindgren and Jacob Trouba. Even with those guys, the team’s defensive metrics have been sliding to the bottom 10 of the league over their last 10 games. Smith is the trigger man on the line, so he gets the nod here.

Oliver Wahlstrom (NYI vs. NJ)

DraftKings – $2,900

FanDuel – $3,100

The annoying thing about Wahlstrom is the team doesn’t seem very high on him at the moment, and that has led to inconsistent ice time – he’s played as few as 10 minutes and as many as 17 over his last four games. They also infrequently post their lines at warmup, so there are times it is not known who is in the Islanders lineup until five minutes to lock.

Anyway, Wahlstrom has been good this year. He is second on the team in goal rate at all strengths and first in shot rate. As explained, the problem is ice time, which is why he’s priced where he is.

Tonight, the Islanders get a Devils team that is bottom 10 by most defensive metrics available over their last 10 games. At his price, Wahlstrom doesn’t need a 3-point bonus to reach value; a goal and a couple shots will do the trick. Against a team that is allowing more goals than the Flyers and Canucks over the last few weeks, that seems doable. Wahlstrom makes a nice cheap option tonight and can be used as part of a stack with someone like Kyle Palmieri (assuming they’re on the same line which, as mentioned above, which may not be apparent until near lock).

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NHL DFS Picks: Defensemen

Will Butcher (NJ at NYI)

DraftKings – $3,800

FanDuel – $3,500

Butcher finds himself on this list despite the bad matchup because of his price and his role on the top power play. He was moved to the top unit due to the injury to Ty Smith. This isn’t a good matchup on the power play, as mentioned. The Islanders are middle of the pack by time on the penalty kill over the last three weeks and have a top-10 penalty kill by expected goals against and actual goals against. Butcher, however, has been over 20 minutes in his last two games and has those top power-play minutes now. This is a value play on FanDuel where he’s being min-priced for a defenseman. He is still usable on DraftKings, but the value is much worse given how much higher his relative pricing is.

Rasmus Sandin (TOR vs. MTL)

DraftKings – $3,000

FanDuel – $3,500

Sandin is here because he ran the top power-play unit in Toronto’s last game and was back there in practice on Wednesday. It seems as if Sandin has locked the top power-play role, at least temporarily.

For those not familiar with Sandin, he was a late first-round pick in 2018 and at the time was expected to develop into a top-pair guy. With 43 points in his last 66 AHL games, he doesn’t have a whole lot left to prove there. He is a good all-around defenseman with good puck skills. In short, he seems smart enough to let their talented forwards do the work. In the matchup tonight, he’ll draw a lot of interest at his price.

Just be aware that Sandin isn’t playing a ton of minutes. He has a 21-minute game in his last five, but also 14, 18, 14 and 16. For those looking for some more certainty through ice time, the answer is probably Butcher over Sandin, at least on FanDuel. Also, the same applies for projected ownership.

Top Goalie

Michael Houser (BUF at PIT)

DraftKings – $7,000

FanDuel – $7,000

After appearing in just one AHL game over the last four years, Houser got the call to the NHL and promptly won his first two starts, including a sterling 45-save performance on Tuesday night. It is unclear if he is good, but goalies don’t have to be good forever — they only need to be good tonight. It is clear he could face a barrage of shots, as the Sabres are porous defensively, so if they win, it will likely be on the back of a great Houser start. He could easily get blown out of the water, but such is the nature of using cheap goalies on bad teams that should see volume.

Top Stacks

EDM PP – Draisaitl – McDavid – Chiasson – Barrie

On a six-game slate, the Oilers will be very, very popular. That is why one should mix in a power-play stack with guys like Alex Chiasson or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Incorporate players that aren’t necessarily skating together in order to avoid the easy duplications that can happen when there is going to be clear ownership on two specific players. As mentioned in the McDavid section, this is a phenomenal five-on-five matchup, and Chiasson is still min-priced with all the PP1 minutes he can handle.

CAR PP2 – Necas – Niederreiter – Pesce

On shorter slates, gamers have to get a bit more creative with stacks. As mentioned earlier, Carolina still has lots to play for and should post a good effort here. The Hurricanes’ second line is great, as also mentioned in the section on Trocheck. But gamers can leave Trocheck off the PP2 stack here and add Brett Pesce. That brings down the average cost per player significantly and allows some more expensive players in a unique lineup. This should be a low-owned line, as the even-strength trio (including Trocheck) comes in under 10% by Awesemo’s Top Stacks tool, and adding the defenseman will only reduce the ownership further.

*stats from Natural Stat Trick


Follow us on all of our social channels! Check out our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for more great Awesemo content. Initial daily fantasy hockey ownership projections for main slates will be posted daily by 4 p.m. The NHL fantasy rankings today for fantasy points and value are derived directly from Alex's own NHL FanDuel projections. The NHL projections DraftKings model was created and is maintained by Alex Baker and Jake Hari. Find more NHL DFS and DFS NHL lineups as well as the best NHL DFS.
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