It’s been quite the ride with our FanDuel NHL DFS Picks over the last couple of nights. Inconsistent can be the word as we’ve alternated excellent lineups with poor ones, something that will happen when you’re playing GPPs.
Our Panthers stack held up their end of the bargain as Aleksander Barkov, Aaron Ekblad and Anthony Duclair combined for five assists and 12 shots on goal. No problem there.
Our Rangers stack scuffled outside of Artemi Panarin who tallied two assists and four shots. Ryan Strome and Alexis Lafreniere combined for just four shots on the night.
We also got very little from our low-owned Blue Jackets stack as their offensive woes continue. Seth Jones and Cam Atkinson combined for only three shots on the night at Detroit.
Finally, our goaltender Philipp Grubauer was solid if unspectacular, making 21 saves in a winning effort over the L.A. Kings.
It wasn’t the worst lineup in the world, but we’ll need much better with this cash-aimed lineup on tonight’s five-game main slate!
FanDuel NHL DFS Picks – January 20, 2021
C – Auston Matthews (TOR) – $7,900 vs. EDM
Matthews has slipped under the $8K price line and even behind John Tavares who is tied for the NHL lead with six points. Such a happening would indicate a slow start, and while Matthews has just one goal in four games, his start has been anything but slow.
Aside from Friday in Ottawa, Matthews has been a factor. His 40 shot attempts lead the NHL, as does his 21 shots on goal. He’s also added three helpers to his lone goal on the season for four points in as many games. The problem? A 4.8% shooting rate that is remarkably low to begin with, but considering his 15.5% career mark it’s pretty clear that a goal-scoring binge is on the horizon, we just don’t know exactly when.
Tonight seems like a pretty good matchup to bust out with a multi-goal effort. The Oilers have allowed 3.75 goals per game in the early going — good for 26th league wide — but they’ve also leaned heavily on goaltender Mikko Koskinen this season. Due to Mike Smith’s injury that will keep up out for a few weeks, Koskinen has played every single minute of the season for Edmonton, turning in a 3.80 GAA and .897 Sv% in the process. To be fair, the Oilers don’t have much choice given the lack of options behind him as Anton Forsberg was claimed off waivers before the season started.
Nonetheless, I’m set to run with the Maple Leafs’ big boys in this one tonight.
C – Leon Draisaitl (EDM) – $7,800 vs. TOR
I would love to have gotten Connor McDavid into this lineup in what marks a homecoming game for the Toronto native, but his inclusion would have left us with next to no money to fill out the remainder of the lineup, so I’ll pivot to Draisaitl in a matchup with the Maple Leafs.
The Leafs’ defense struggled in their first two games of the season, but have since allowed just three goals over their last two games.
That said, while he bounced back with a win on Monday against the Jets, Frederik Andersen is off to another slow start in the Maple Leafs’ crease while posting a 3.32 GAA and .881 Sv% in three outings this season while this is certainly a Maple Leafs blueline that has had its fair share of breakdowns in the early going, just like many groups around the league.
Draisaitl has actually failed to score in four games this season, but has five assists in that time with 11 shots on goal. Of course, a player that’s scored 93 goals over his last 153 games is due to bust out in a big way as well.
W – Mitch Marner (TOR) – $7,800 vs. EDM
Next man up in our three-man Maple Leafs stack is Marner, a player off to a red-hot start to the season as he sits tied with Tavares — and others — for the NHL points lead with six on the season.
A play-maker by trade, Marner has scored three times on just seven shots this season, so expect plenty of regression from his 42.9% shooting rate here in the early going. That said, I wouldn’t expect much of a dip in production as he and Matthews lineup on the Maple Leafs’ top line and top power play unit and are both hovering around 25 minutes of ice time per game so far.
Since he entered the league in the 2016-17 season, Marner’s 211 assists ranks him ninth in the league. That said, he’s only skated with Matthews for the second half of the last season and four games this season (at 5v5) and considering only Alex Ovechkin has scored more goals than Matthews in that same time frame, I would expect the assists to continue to come in bunches.
Also, it’s a very bad idea to leave Marner out of any Matthews-led Maple Leafs cash stack these days.
W – Dominik Kahun (EDM) – $4,000 vs. TOR
We’ll get our Oilers mini-stack out of the way in a hurry here as Kahun lines up with Draisaitl on the team’s second line and will also see second-unit power play reps as well.
Kahun — who grew up playing minor hockey with Draisaitl in their native Germany — has registered just one assist in four games, but like Draisaitl, he’s also goalless despite putting 11 shots on goal so far. A 2.75 shots-per-game average will certainly play and the goals will come at some point this season.
It was interesting to see him marinate on the free-agent market for so long before the Oilers scooped him up as he notched 12 goals and 31 points in 56 games last season. I would suggest the Oilers would be happy with that production again this season after he did so between the Penguins and Sabres last season. It’s also a young player that tallied a solid 13 goals and 37 points in 82 games as a rookie with the 2018-18 Chicago Blackhawks.
As he finds his footing with the Oilers, we’ll see if the German duo is ready to break out in the goals scored department tonight.
D – Morgan Rielly (TOR) – $5,600 vs. EDM
We’ll get another stack completed here as Rielly joins Matthews and Marner on this high-powered Maple Leafs offense tonight against the Oilers.
Like Matthews and Marner up front, Rielly has been a major workhorse this season, averaging 25:03 in the early going. His overtime winner on Opening Night against the Canadiens stands as his lone point of the season in four games, but he’s put 12 shots on goal and blocked another so far, so at least he’s putting pucks on net as he looks to bounce back from a three-goal season in 47 contest last year, but he also tallied 20 goals in the 2018-19 season, the most among NHL blueliners.
Hard to imagine this guy is still just 26 years of age. He’s going to be one of the more productive defensemen for years to come, and so long as he’s skating on this Maple Leafs offense as well as the top power play unit, Rielly makes for a wonderful play on a Leafs power play that has clicked at 42.9% in the early going, good for third in the league at this point.
D – Vince Dunn (STL) – $3,700 vs. SJ
He’s not going to bring a high floor to the table as he doesn’t shoot the puck much, but Dunn remains one of my favorite low-cost plays when needed on the blueline.
The 24-year-old Dunn’s production tailed off a little bit last season with nine goals and 23 points in 71 games, but those nine goals are a healthy total for a d-man while he put 138 shots on goal. This isn’t a player that needs to shoot a ton to score given his offensive skill set as his 6% career shooting rate is an elevated number for a defenseman.
This is a guy that will get second-unit power play reps, but he also doesn’t log a ton of ice time in averaging 16:36 through three games this season and 16:16 in 71 contests last season.
So, we can see where the low price stems from, but this is a nice matchup for the young rearguard. The Sharks have once again struggled on the back end early this season, tying for 27th on defense (along with these Blues, interestingly) and I’m not so sure they’ll move up the rankings much. We’ll see fewer goals scored as the season moves along, but I have little to no faith in the Martin Jones/Devan Dubnyk goaltending tandem and this is a weak Sharks blueline, period.
Dunn kick off a three-man Blues stack tonight.
UTIL – Mike Hoffman (STL) – $5,700 vs. SJ
Next man up in said stack is Hoffman who signed late with the Blues after sitting as the top remaining free agent on the market following the mid-October frenzy.
He missed the team’s opener due to visa issues, but has a goal and three shots in two games with his new club after tallying 29 goals in just 69 games with the Florida Panthers last season.
Over the previous six seasons, Hoffman ranks 16th in terms of goals scored. That said, he’s been a monster on the power play, ranking fourth with 49 power play tallies over the last four seasons. It’s a Blues power play that is 0 for 9 in the early going, but one that ranked third in the league last season, so it should get going sooner than later.
For now, however, Hoffman resides on the second unit alongside Dunn and the final member of our Blues stack, so I’m glad to have found a way to fit a 5v5 and PP2 stack into this lineup along with the high-end Maple Leafs and Oilers above.
UTIL – Robert Thomas (STL) – $4,300 vs. SJ
Completing our Blues stack is Thomas as the third-year center looks to build on what was a productive sophomore season last year.
Thomas came on strong late in his rookie season en route to a nine-goal, 33-point output in the 2018-19 campaign. He followed that up with a 10-goal, 42-point effort last season in four fewer games, and also increased his shot and ice-time totals as well.
So far this season, the 21-year-old has notched two assists in three games, albeit with just two shots on goal. However, it’s clear he’s taking on more responsibility as his 15:11 of average ice time sits above his 14:34 from last season and well above the 13:04 he skated as a rookie.
It appears Thomas will skate as the third-line center with Hoffman and Tyler Bozak in this one tonight, but as noted will also skate on the second power play unit with the Hoffman/Dunn duo. For what it’s worth, Bozak is cheaper and also fits fine into this lineup, but I believe Thomas is the superior point-getter this season despite a lack of shots on goal.
At the end of the day I feel excellent about this three-man stack going up against one of the worst defenses in the NHL this season.
G – Cam Talbot (MIN) – $7,900 vs. ANH
You’ll likely see throughout the season that I’m a big Talbot believer in this new digs after he bounced back last season with the Calgary Flames.
Talbot posted a .919 regular-season save percentage with the Flames a season ago, stealing the No. 1 job from David Rittich in the process, and also went on to post a .924 mark while starting all 10 of the team’s postseason games.
The bounce back campaign followed a couple of down seasons for the veteran, but here’s a goaltender that’s posted a save percentage of at least .917 in five of his seven NHL season and owns a career .915 mark.
Now, he moves to a Wild team that ranked first in expected goals against/60 at 5v5, scoring chances against/60 and high-danger chances against/60 last season, as per Natural Stat Trick. The problem was a 29th-ranked .897 Sv% from Dubnyk and co.
Through three starts this season, Talbot owns a 2.27 GAA and .926% with a 2-1-0 record. He took a tough-luck 1-0 loss against the Ducks on Monday despite turning aside 26 of 27 shots in that one.
He’s playing behind an elite defense and I think he’s in for a big year as a result. For tonight, he should be able to once again handle a Ducks offense that has scored just four goals in three games this season.