It’s been a few days since I released some FanDuel NHL DFS picks, but we have a four-game main slate to dive into tonight, so let’s get right back at it and see if we can notch some profits in a GPP-aimed lineup!
C – Connor McDavid (EDM) – $8,800 vs. TOR
It’s a rare matchup of Matthews vs. McDavid in Toronto tonight where the Oilers meet the Maple Leafs and while Matthews and the Maple Leafs’ offense is red-hot at the moment in averaging almost five goals per game over their last 10, I am going to lean on the road side tonight to notch us some production in GPP contests. I mean, it’s not like we should expect super low ownership from McDavid as he’s indeed tied with teammate Leon Draisaitl for the NHL lead with 65 points on the season, but his ownership could come lower than Matthews in this matchup. The 22-year-old will enter this one with 23 gals and 42 helpers on the season to go along with 138 shots inn a whopping 22:09 of average ice time per game – a massive number for a forward. McDavid has also racked up 29 points on the man advantage for an Oilers power play that ranks first overall with a 29.5% clip and fourth on the road with a 27.9% clip. That power play could do some damage tonight against a Maple Leafs penalty kill that’s struggled at time this season and sits 26th with a 77.6% mark on the season. The Oilers built some momentum with a 4-1 win in Boston on Saturday, so carrying that over to this one is very much in the cards.
C – Blake Wheeler (WPG) – $6,500 vs. MON
Wheeler has been skating as a center for much of the season as Paul Maurice split up their top line in an effort to achieve more balanced scoring. It’s at least worked on the road to this points as the Jets rank seventh with 3.29 goals per game on the season, a number that’s superior to their 2.81 mark on home ice. Skating down on the second line has hurt Wheeler’s production a little bit, however, as he’s notched 14 goals and 36 points in 42 games. That’s still strong production, but he’s posted 91 points in each of the last two seasons with a 1.17 points-per-game clip in that span and owns a reduced 0.86 points-per-game clip to this point in the season. The Jets also aren’t scoring as much on the whole this season and their power play isn’t producing at the same rate we’ve seen in past seasons, so it’s to be expected. Still, the matchup in Montreal is a good one as the Canadiens have scuffled on the back end at home this season where they rank 27th with 3.24 goals against per game and 23rd with a 78.3% mark on the penalty kill. Carey Price has struggled to the tune of a 3.08 GAA and .890 Sv% in 17 home starts, so let’s look for Wheeler to get involved in some offense tonight.
W – James Neal (EDM) – $5,400 vs. TOR
When I rostered Neal in one of my lineups last week, he rewarded me with a hat trick while skating alongside McDavid at 5v5 and on the top power play unit, so he’s a lock to go into any McDavid-related stack as a result. His scoring had slowed down significantly after a white-hot start to the season, but the hat trick gives him 19 goals on the season to go along with eight helpers for 27 points in 44 games. He’s being paid to score goals and that’s what he’s done, but it’s the production on the power play that intrigues me against what has been a weak Maple Leafs penalty kill this season, even under Sheldon Keefe – the one area that hasn’t significantly improved since the Mike Babcock firing. Neal has scored a whopping 12 goals on the power play to rank second in the NHL in that category behind only David Pastrnak and his 15 power play tallies on the campaign. I’m a big fan of the upside that Neal brings to the table while skating with the world’s best player in all situations and I think there’s plenty of value to be unlocked with the veteran goal-scorer tonight.
W – Patrik Laine (WPG) – $7,800 vs. MON
Now, I wanted Laine in this lineup tonight regardless of who else I rostered, and while he and Wheeler don’t skate on the same line as even strength, we get exposure to the Jets’ top two lines tonight while these guys will indeed skate together on the team’s top power play unit. If you’ve read these pieces before and I had Laine in the lineup, you will know that I am a big fan of the positive-trending shooting rate for the young sniper. Laine was racking up a ton of assists earlier in the season and not scoring much despite putting plenty of shots on goal still. Given his release and the high percentage shots he takes, he’s been able to post a high 15.2% shooting percentage for his career. However, this season he’s shooting at just 11.3% which is even lower than his 12.2% mark from his down year last year when he struggled to score in the second half of the season. Laine still has 15 goals and 40 points in as many games this season, so the production has been there, but I still believe he is going to score at an increased rate moving forward. After scoring once on a whopping 13 shots in a loss to the Maple Leafs, Laine was held to zero points and zero shots in Minnesota on Saturday, but I would be on the lookout for a bounce-back effort at the Bell Centre tonight.
W – Jeff Carter (LA) – $5,500 vs. CBJ
This is where the lineup takes a bit of a GPP turn as Carter lines up to take on the Blue Jackets tonight on home ice. The Blue Jackets, despite missing a ton of regulars from their lineup including the red-hot Joonas Korpisalo, are rolling right now with seven wins over their last 10 games, but the Kings are a much better team at home and despite a nice little run at the moment, backup goaltender Elvis Merzlikins still owns just a 3.36 GAA and .888 Sv% on the road across nine starts on the season, so I think there is some upside for the Kings to get some offense going against shorthanded Blue Jackets lineup that dropped a 3-2 decision to the struggling Sharks their last time out. Enter Carter who has been somewhat productive still on a bad Kings team as he has scored 12 goals on the season in 43 games, but if we are looking for some positive shooting percentage regression, Carter is another strong candidate. His 12 goals on a whopping 135 shots on goal represents just an 8.9% shooting rate which is well below his 11.3% mark for his career. He shot at just 7.5% last season and perhaps his shot quality is diminishing, however given the poor puck luck for a lengthy time and the high volume of shots, I think this is a nice matchup for Carter to begin that positive shot rate trend this evening.
W – Nikolai Prokhorkin (LA) – $3,500 vs. CBJ
Skating alongside Carter – who is actually going to skate at center for this one tonight – at 5v5 and on the second power play unit will be rookie Nikolai Prokhorkin. The 26-year-old has actually had a solid season in which he’s tallied four goals and 11 points in 23 games – decent production considering this third line role and just 12:09 of average ice time per game. Now, there’s not a very high floor here considering the price, but the value potential is certainly here. The Russian is currently on a 12-game goalless drought and hasn’t scored on his last 17 shots on goal. He’s still been decently productive of late, notching three assists over his last four games, but I think it’s about time he got back in the goal column considering the lengthy drought. This is a guy who was quote productive in the KHL prior to moving over to the NHL as he scored 20 goals in 41 KHL games last year with 41 points in that time as well. We know the talent is there, and I think he can deliver some nice value tonight – with low ownership to boot – skating beside Carter as part of a stack that should fly under the radar.
D – Oscar Klefbom (EDM) – $5,900 vs. TOR
Completing my Oilers three-man stack will be Klefbom who has morphed into one of the best cross-category defensemen in DFS this season. Known for his offensive game and his big-time shot from the point – especially on the power play – Klefbom has been leaned on heavily by new head coach Dave Tippett as he’s logging a massive 25:41 of average ice time per game where he’s skating in all situations. He’s scored four goals on 116 shots this season, but also has 21 helpers for 25 points in 44 games on the season. However, we also need to consider the fact that Klefbom is the NHL’s blocked shots leader – by a wide margin – with 138 blocks on the season. On top of the potential he has to produce offensively and on the power play, Klefbom should also get plenty of shot-blocking opportunities against a Maple Leafs team that ranks sixth with 33.4 shots per game on the season. I absolutely wanted a three-man power play stack given the aforementioned special teams advantage the Oilers should have in this one, and we’re getting it at a fair cost with Neal bringing down the overall cost of the group. There’s plenty of upside despite facing a red-hot Maple Leafs team tonight.
D – Sean Walker (LA) – $3,800 vs. CBJ
Completing what I believe will be a low-owned three-man stack tonight is Walker who will form a stack at 5v5 as well as on the Kings’ second power play unit for this one tonight. Walker enters this one with a solid four goals and 16 points in 43 games on the season, not bad numbers at all for a guy that skates one of the weaker offenses in the NHL and is seeing under 20 minutes a night on the blueline. Despite his spot on the second power play unit, Walker has tallied 14 of his 16 points this season at even strength, which I don’t have a problem with. The Kings rank 27th on the power play at home this season, so I’m not exactly expecting the power play to light it up and while I like having a power play stack going, this probably would have been my stack regardless as I expect the Kings’ offense tonight to come at 5v5. Walker also brings some solid peripherals to the table in the form of 73 shots on goal and a real nice 60 blocks as well, so I think there’s actually a decent floor here when we put together his solid production and peripherals at a sub-$4K price tag. He should be very low owned on the blueline tonight, so some production from Walker would go a long way for this lineup.
G – Jonathan Quick (LA) – $7,600 vs. CBJ
The goaltending situation is a little hazy on this four-game slate as I’m not seeing a ton of safety anywhere, but what I do like is Quick at a cheap price against this Blue Jackets team tonight. For one, the Kings are actually a very solid home defense this season where they are tied for ninth with 2.70 goals against per game at home this season going up against a Blue Jackets road offense that ranks 21st with 2.53 goals per game on the road this season. Second, Quick’s splits mirror those of his team in the sense that the Kings have been very bad on the road defensively, but much better at home. Quick enter this one sporting a rock-solid 2.51 GAA and .912 Sv% on home ice this season compared to a brutal 3.60 GAA and .876 Sv% on the road. He’s also 8-5-1 at home this season compared to just 3-10-1 on the road. After posting an .870 Sv% in losing two in a row, Quick got back in the win column by turning aside 32 of 35 Flyers shots last Tuesday on home ice. This team and this goaltender are simply far-and-away better on home ice and I’ll look for that to show through in this one tonight.