DraftKings NHL DFS Picks – December 31st

It has been quite a few days since my last DraftKings NHL DFS Picks piece given my large list of commitments during the holiday season, but I’m back to hand out some picks on this big 11-game main New Year’s Eve slate!

As I usually like to do on big slates, I will aim tonight’s picks at GPPs and look for some matchups that might fly under the radar on such a large slate of games.

Let’s get right into the picks and see if we can enter 2019 with some extra dough in our pockets!

C – Frans Nielsen (DET) – $4,200 vs. FLA

Let’s start this lineup by mentioning that we are fading the Avalanche, Lightning, Jets, Lightning and Penguins, teams that will have their superstar players seeing plenty of ownership in solid matchups. Therefore, this GPP-aimed matchups kicks off with Nielsen as he and the Red Wings have a fine matchup on their hands against the visiting Panthers. The Panthers have struggled on the back end all season long as their overall defense ranks 28th, however numbers-wise is gets worse to 3.79 goals against per game on the road, good for 26th. Tonight’s probable starter Roberto Luongo owns a 3.46 GAA and .892 Sv% in 11 road starts. If not, James Reimer owns a 3.60 GAA and .875 Sv% on the road this season. Enter Nielsen who has quietly delivered some solid production this season with seven goals and 23 points in 36 games to go along with 57 shots on goal. He is going to skate as the team’s second line center and also on the top power play unit, giving us a mini-stack with one of his wingers in all situations.

C – Brayden Schenn (STL) – $5,200 vs. NYR

We are going to target another poor road defense tonight in the form of the New York Rangers who have yielded 4.24 goals against per game away from Madison Square Garden, good for 30th league wide. Their 35.4 shots against per game on the road also ranks 30th in the league. Therefore, Schenn and the Blues have a solid home matchup tonight despite themselves being a vastly inconsistent offense. Schenn will center the team’s top line tonight as he enters play with seven goals and 22 points in 32 games this season to go along with 63 shots on goal. He will also see top unit power play time in this one as he’s notched two goals and five helpers on the man advantage this season. The power play is key tonight as the Rangers are by far the worst road penalty killing team in the NHL this season with a ghastly 67.3% mark. Schenn kicks off a three-man Blues stack tonight.

W – Gustav Nyquist (DET) – $4,900 vs. FLA

Nyquist is indeed the winger I will be mini-stacking with Nielsen tonight as he will skate alongside the veteran center at both even strength and on the Red Wings top power play unit. As mentioned, Florida ranks 26th in road defense, but they also check in at 24th in terms of road penalty killing with a poor 75.9% mark. It’s been an excellent rebound season for the 29-year-old Nyquist as he has tallied nine goals and 33 points across 40 games on the season to along with a whopping 109 shots on goal. When I combine those numbers and his matchup, I think there is a ton of upside in Nyquist at a sub-$5K price tonight. He’s rattled off a point in each of his last two games and fired seven shots on goal in Saturday’s loss to the Stars. He’s scored six of his nine goals in the month of December, so let’s look for him to cap a productive month with some production tonight on home ice.

W – Vladimir Tarasenko (STL) – $6,300 vs. NYR

He’s a superstar that could fly under the radar given the rash of star talent on this slate, but Tarasenko could very well end up among the scoring leaders on this slate tonight. His floor is certainly an attractive one as Tarasenko continued to fire a ton of shots on goal this season with 131 shots for the campaign. His production isn’t as attractive with 11 goals and 11 assists in 36 contest, although he’s been dogged by a tiny shooting percentage this season in the form of an 8.4% mark, miles under his 12.7% career shooting percentage. In other words, I would expect the goals to start coming in bunches for the Russian as that figure begins to even out. I do like the fact that six goals those 11 goals have come on the power play, meaning he could have a big night against the league’s worst road penalty kill tonight. Nonetheless, I will take the high floor with the Russian goal-scorer in this one tonight.

W – Jamie Benn (DAL) – $5,900 vs. MON

We continue to get excellent talent in favorable matchups as reasonable prices here as Jamie Benn and the Stars take on the Montreal Canadiens tonight in Dallas. Those last two words in the previous sentence mean a lot as the Stars score 3.33 goals per game at home (11th) and the Canadiens allow 3.20 goals per game on the road (19th). The Stars are also coming off an offensive explosion, scoring five goals in a 5-1 home victory over the Red Wings while the Canadiens have allowed an average of four goals against per game over their last three and will play their sixth consecutive road game tonight in Dallas. Enter Benn who has 15 goals and 15 assists in 39 games to go along with 94 shots on goal. He also has 15 points in 18 home games. While he is projected to skate without Tyler Seguin as his center, he will still flank the superstar center on the top power play unit where they will get stacked in this lineup tonight.

D – Alex Pietrangelo (STL) – $4,900 vs. NYR

Our three-man Blues stack is complete here with the addition of Pietrangelo. This is both an even strength and top power play unit stack as it appears Pietrangelo will once again be the lone defenseman on the top unit. Again, against the league’s worst road penalty kill, this could mean good things for the veteran blueliner. We get solid cross-category upside with Pietrangelo as he has four goals and 11 points in 25 games while he has also taken 53 shots on goal and blocked 61 as well. This will be just his second game back since returning from a hand injury that cost him about a month, so while his minutes might not reach his 24:25 per-game average on the season, his matchup and opportunity is immense. If the Blues can get on the high side of their inconsistent offense in this one tonight, this three-man stack should be in good shape and give this lineup a real shot in the arm.

D – Esa Lindell (DAL) – $4,500 vs. MON

Given the amount of money I had left here, I had the choice between Lindell and the rookie Miro Heiskanen to complete my three-man Stars stack, but I decided to go with Lindell as he carries a slightly higher floor and I think he will see less ownership than the stud rookie. Lindell is also a real solid cross-category fantasy player as he has six goals, 11 assists, 67 shots and 64 blocked shots on the season while averaging 24:43 of ice time per game. Lindell will see time on the Stars’ second power play unit, but this stack is simply an even strength stack as it stands to reason he will be skating with either Benn or Tyler Seguin on the vast majority of his shifts tonight. Lindell has tallied exactly one assists and two shots on goal in each of his last two games, production that I would accept in this one tonight, but of course he is more than welcome to exceed that production at what I believe will be small ownership on this 11-game slate tonight.

G – Robin Lehner (NYI) – $7,300 vs. BUF

The Islanders are underdogs in Buffalo this evening, however I think there is plenty of upside in Lehner at this price. First, he leads all qualified NHL goaltenders with a 2.21 GAA on the season. Bet you didn’t see that coming. He’s also produced a .926 Sv% across 16 starts and 18 appearances on the campaign. His work has held tough on the road as well as he checks in with a 2.34 GAA and .925 Sv% in 12 road starts, clearly where the bulk of his work has come for some reason. Lehner is actually white-hot entering this one tonight with a .958 Sv% in five December starts and six December appearances. He hasn’t allowed a goal in his last 93 minutes and 49 second of work and has allowed more than one goal in just one of his last six starts and just shut out the Maple Leafs on Saturday, which is no easy feat given the 36 shots he faced. I don’t see much reason why Lehner wouldn’t be the top GPP option on this slate.

UTIL – Tyler Seguin (DAL) – $6,800 vs. MON

Seguin and his teammate Benn received some harsh criticism recently, but the team responded with five goals against the Red Wings on Saturday and I’m looking for more of the same tonight against the Canadiens. Seguin brings a real solid floor to the table in the form of 11 goals, 22 assists and a whopping 147 shots on the campaign. He is going to break out with a scoring spree at some point as Seguin has been held back by a tiny 7.5% shooting percentage this season, well under his 11.1% career mark. This would by far be the lowest of his career if the season ended today. Seguin has six goals and 18 points in 18 home games this season, meaning we are getting him exactly where he plays his best tonight, and that is on home ice. There’s reason to believe he could see some time with Benn at even strength at some point tonight, but if not, he will form a mini-stack on the top power play unit with Benn while he will also be a mini-stack with Lindell for much of tonight’s action.


Brenton Kemp / Author

Brenton is a lifelong sports fan who resides in Ontario, Canada. Brenton is a fan of most all sports but specializes in hockey, baseball, football, basketball, and golf. He’s a fierce researcher with a strong appetite to deliver accurate and relevant facts that in turn have led to past success with picks and DFS advice across the board. Brenton’s biggest goal is to deliver readers with the picks and advice that can build their bankroll. He takes great pride in his success and loves nothing more than to share that success for the benefit of everyone involved.