It was certainly a nice start to the NHL season for our FanDuel NHL DFS Picks as our cash-aimed lineup fared well in crossing cash lines in double-ups while you should have made out quite well in head-to-heads as well.
John Tavares led the way for our lineup, notching a goal and two helpers, but we also got quality value out of linemate Jimmy Vesey who scored his first goal as a Leaf. The duo also combined for seven shots on goal while T.J. Brodie contributed a shot and a pair of blocks in his Maple Leafs debut. If you had William Nylander in your lineup to complete the second-line stack you were looking pretty as he scored twice and added an assist with three shots and a block.
Our Tampa Bay cash stack worked perfectly. The trio of Ondrej Palat, Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos combined for three goals, three assists, 10 shots and a blocked shot while four of those six points came on the power play. That’s exactly the type of production we wanted from that group.
Even our Oilers mini-stack got in on the action. Tyson Barrie didn’t get much done with just a shot and a blocked shot, but Dominik Kahun notched an assist with four shots and a block to greatly exceed value in his Oilers debut.
Finally, Andrei Vasilevskiy put forth just the effort we were looking for. Unfortunately, we missed the shutout by about three and a half minutes as Chicago’s Dylan Strome banked one in off the goaltender from behind the goal line. The puck bounced around in an unsuspecting Vasilevskiy’s crease before sliding over the goal line, breaking the goose egg with the final minutes winding down in a 5-1 Tampa Bay throttling of the ‘Hawks.
Nonetheless, we’ll take the results and the profits and move onto a larger 10-game main slate where we will look to get involved in some GPPs tonight!
FanDuel NHL DFS Picks – January 14, 2021
C – Connor McDavid (EDM) – $8,800 vs. VAN
It wasn’t the best showing of his NHL career last night in the season-opening loss to the Canucks as McDavid was held off the scoresheet, but managed five shots and a block while skating a whopping 26:24 in that one. But, let’s be honest, how often does this guy miss the scoresheet twice in a row?
Well, in his 64 games last season, it happened twice. A three-game pointless drought from Oct. 18-22 and a two-gamer from Dec. 18-20. That’s it. While he’s Connor McDavid and his ownership is never going to be minuscule, he’s a big price to pay and with the 10-game slate lathered with high-end options, perhaps last night’s output turns some folks off while we’ll have enough GPP differentiation in this lineup regardless.
The Canucks played fine last night, but McDavid certainly had his chances and worked some magic but couldn’t find twine. That said, here’s a guy that missed six games last season and still finished with 97 points in 64 games with 212 shots on goal and another 43 points on the power play alone. The 24-year-old has notched 27 career points in 22 games against the Canucks, but this play is more strictly due to the fact that he’s already due for a big night after missing the scoresheet for one game.
That’s simply how this man has operated in his NHL career and I’ll look for a multi-point effort in the rematch tonight.
C – Tomas Hertl (SJ) – $3,000 vs. ARI
See anything that doesn’t add up here? Why Hertl is at the minimum $3,000 price tag is beyond me, but let’s roll with it and look for some value out of the Sharks’ second-line center.
Never forget that @TomasHertl48 chose the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song for his goal song.
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) May 23, 2020
Hertl missed a good chunk of last season with a knee injury, but managed a healthy 16 goals and 36 points in 48 games when on the ice. The Sharks’ offense fell off a cliff without Hertl, Logan Couture and Erik Karlsson for large stretches, but it should at least be an improved offense when healthy and to matchup with the Coyotes could be better than what appears on the surface.
Here we have one of the league’s worst offenses from last season against one of the league’s best defenses. While the Coyotes tied for third in overall defense, they also ranked 22nd in expected goals against/60 at 5v5 and 19th in high-danger chances against/60 at 5v5, as per Natural Stat Trick. As a result, look no further than the third-ranked .919 Sv% they got from their goaltending as to why they ranked among the leagues best defenses a season ago.
Can Darcy Kuemper repeat his .928 Sv% from last season? Maybe, but that’s a lofty bar and I would think he regresses from that figure.
Nonetheless, I’m going to test him and see if the Coyotes can outplay their advanced metrics again this season.
W – Zack Kassian (EDM) – $4,000 vs. VAN
You could also go with the Leon Draisaitl/Dominik Kahun tandem at a cheaper cost in this lineup, but I’m on the McDavid train all day long here so I’ll throw Kassian into a winger spot as he skates to the right of the world’s best player at 5v5.
Unlike McDavid, however, Kassian reached the scoresheet in last night’s loss, notching an assist while adding a shot and a block for a quality 11.2 FanDuel points. Not a monster total, but that’s certainly a number I would be happy to get from him in this one tonight.
Playing with McDavid helps, but let’s keep in mind this guy has scored 15 goals in back-to-back seasons and did so last year in just 59 games. His 34 points from last season was a career-high, as was his 15:40 of average ice time. Last night, Kassian skated 16:15 and should at least approach that number again in this one tonight.
What’s interesting here is that both Kassian and Kahun project for very little power play time, if any, in tonight’s contest, so we’ll go with the 5v5 mini-stack of McDavid and Kassian and look for 97 to carry his rugged winger to a multi-point effort while delivering big-time value against what I still believe is a soft Canucks back end.
W – Evander Kane (SJ) – $7,100 vs. ARI
There was some question as to whether Kane would play this season of late, but he’ll indeed be in the Sharks’ lineup this year and I’ll look for him to be a difference-maker right out of the gate.
Kane appears to be set for a spot on the team’s second line — or 1B line — alongside Hertl at 5v5 while he’ll also skate with the underpriced pivot on the team’s top power play unit, a spot that could work wonders for the multi-talented winger.
Say what you may about the overall depth and talent on this roster, but that power play unit should produce. It’s a group that also includes No. 1 center Logan Couture as well as Karlsson and Brent Burns, two of the league’s top offensive defensemen.
I’m also a fan of the floor Kane brings to the table. While we’ll surely look for him to exceed his floor, Kane’s 216 shots on goal last season ranked 21st in the NHL, and he played about 4-7 games less than many of the names ahead of him on that list. Comparably, he shot the puck slightly more than Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
Despite ranking among the top defenses in the league last season, the Coyotes also ranked 23rd in allowing 32.4 shots against per game, and given the below-average advanced metrics I think that defense is in for regression and Kane could be a good option to help deliver that tonight.
D – Erik Karlsson (SJ) – $5,400 vs. ARI
There’s a choice to be made between Karlsson and Burns as both should skate on the team’s top power play unit with Hertl and Kane in this one, but my choice is Karlsson, partly due to cost. However, there are ulterior motives at play.
At 35, Burns is surely on the decline. His shots and production have dropped significantly from previous seasons, and while he should remain among the game’s better offensive defensemen this season, I think Karlsson racks up more points.
In an injury-plagued season, Karlsson still managed 40 points in 56 games to go along with 120 shots on goal and another 74 blocks. His 0.71 points per game outpaced Burns’ 0.64 figure and while the latter shoots more, I’m in for the scoresheet in this one over the peripherals and I would bet with confidence that Karlsson outproduced Burns on the scoresheet this season, all else being equal.
After dealing with groin injuries and then a thumb injury that cut his 2019-20 season short, here’s a guy that’s rested with plenty of time to heal. His last game came 11 months ago to the day. While some could expect rust, this is a guy that needed the long layoff to recoup, get healthy and get back to the elite point-producing defenseman who could challenge for the league lead in points among blueliners, even on a weak Sharks overall offense.
D – Roman Josi (NSH) – $7,100 vs. CBJ
It’s odd starting stacks with defensemen given the new dual-utility setup at FanDuel, but here we are kicking a three-man Predators stack off with the reigning Norris Trophy winner.
ROMAN JOSI: 2020 NORRIS TROPHY WINNER.
— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) September 21, 2020
Once again, we’re picking on one of the better defenses from last season in this GPP lineup as the Blue Jackets tied the aforementioned Coyotes for third in overall defense last season. Unlike the Coyotes, it appears the Jackets earned that figure as they ranked third in expected goals against/60 at 5v5. That said, all is not well in Columbus.
Whether it affects their game remains to be seen, but the distraction of Pierre-Luc Dubois’ trade request has to be weighing on this team. Maybe it doesn’t affect them defensively, but I’m also willing to test the Joonas Korpisalo/Elvis Merzlikins tandem early after I believe they played above their heads in tying for fourth with a .913 combined Sv% last season.
I also expect positive regression from this Nashville team and offense. Of course, Josi brings an extremely high floor to the table after notching 16 goals, 65 points and a whopping 260 shots on goal in just 69 games last season, with that shot total pacing all defenseman by a country mile.
He’s going to log major minutes, but I’m not sure he’ll see big ownership given the matchup but it’s one that I want to explore early in the season as I believe Nashville’s offense is in for an improved season after ranking 16th last season.
UTIL – Filip Forsberg (NSH) – $7,000 vs. CBJ
Why do I expect the Nashville offense to improve? Despite their advanced metrics more or less aligning with their surface offensive numbers last season, the fact that their top offensive players mostly all had down years has me thinking at least some can rebound, specifically this man.
I mean, it wasn’t an awful season, but I think even Forsberg would tell you he would like to produced at a superior clip than his 21 goals and 48 points in 63 games last season. Not helping his cause was his shooting rate dropping to a career-low of 10.6%, so that alone should bounce back closer to his 12.3% and an increase in goals scored.
Nonetheless, after tying for 65th in goals and 76th in points last season, I’m fully on board with a major rebound from Forsberg. If that’s to happen, you would think the Predators’ power play needs to get figured out off the hop. After ranking dead last two seasons ago, they ranked just 25th last season. Given the talent on board, I would wager an improvement, especially with a new coaching staff on board with a fresh slate in front of them.
Add it up and I think Forsberg gets closer to some of the top players in the league this year and I’ll look for him to connect despite the difficult matchup at what I believe will be low ownership.
UTIL – Viktor Arvidsson (NSH) – $5,500 vs. CBJ
See: Forsberg, Filip. In other words, it’s much of the same story here with Arvidsson as he looks to bounce back after a subpar 2019-20 campaign.
He was banged up in practise on Tuesday and didn’t skate yesterday, but head coach John Hynes said he expects him in the lineup tonight. If he plays, he’ll skate on the top line alongside Forsberg and on the top power play unit with him as well.
After erupting for 34 goals in just 58 games two seasons ago, Arvidsson notched just 15 in 57 games last season. That’s what can happen when your shooting rate drops about 6%, but he also took 68 fewer shots in one fewer game. Why that is, I do not know.
What I do know is that this guy is a proven goal-scorer. He scored at least 29 goals in three consecutive seasons before last season, and recorded — or was on pace for — at least 246 shots on goal in each of those three seasons. He was hampered by a lower-body injury earlier in the season and perhaps his drop in production can be partly attributed to that lingering ailment.
While we don’t know that for sure, I believe that we’ll get a goal-scorer with high shot volumes at low ownership in a matchup that could be better than many of GPP participants may think.
G – Juuse Saros (NSH) – $6,900 vs. CBJ
I can actually see Saros getting some ownership tonight given the price tag and matchup, but I’m rolling with him regardless as I also view this as a major bounce back opportunity for this Predators defense.
Last season, the Predators fell to a share of 19th in overall defense after ranking first across the previous two seasons. I would point to their 76.1% penalty kill that tied for 28th as one reason, but their .901 Sv% from their goaltending (also tied for 19th) was also a big reason why.
Pekka Rinne struggled mightily in working to a career-worst .895 Sv%, but Saros was by far the better of the two in posting a .914 mark in his 40 games. At 25 and with Rinne at 38, I expect Saros to be on the 1A side of the tandem this season, and here’s a guy sporting a career 2.56 GAA and .918 Sv% with 119 NHL games under his belt at a young age. He’s seen his usage increase every season of his career so far, and now it’s his time to shine.
— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) August 4, 2020
It’s a fine matchup against these Jackets as well. Columbus tied for 27th in overall offense last season and alone at 27th on the power play. That said, they also ranked eighth with 32.5 shots per game, which could give Saros the opportunity to rack up some saves.
However, I believe his stout top-four defense corps of Josi, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm and Dante Fabbro makes things far easier on him this time around. Saros could be one of the more underrated young goaltenders in the NHL with the likes of Igor Shesterkin and Ilya Sorokin bursting onto the scene, but for tonight I’ll certainly take Saros at a price I don’t believe we’ll see him at again this season.