My FanDuel NHL DFS Picks slid just over the cash line my GPP, however given the results I would have expected more. Unfortunately, it was just a real high-scoring three-game slate.
The night got off to a nice start as my top pick, Jack Eichel, simply dominated the Montreal Canadiens. Eichel scored twice, added two assists, eight shots, a blocked shot, a power play goal and a power play assist. Add it up and the Sabres’ captain notched 55.4 fantasy points on the night. Unfortunately, Rasmus Ristolainen did not factor into any of the Sabres’ five tallies on the night and recorded just a single shot on goal and his 1.6 fantasy points put a big damper on our lineup.
Our three-man Flyers stack got a goal from Kevin Hayes and an assist from Claude Giroux, but overall it was a disappointing end result. Hayes and Giroux notched three shots apiece while Hayes’ goal came on the power play and Giroux’s assist was the lone one on that goal. However, Jakub Voracek’s three shots and one block were disappointing consider the upside there was against what has been a bad Devils defense this season.
Our three-man value Canucks stack performed, save for Tyler Myers. Josh Leivo scored a goal at just 1.6% ownership in my GPPs while Tanner Pearson notched two assists, a block, a shot on goal and a power play assist. Unfortunately, Tyler Myers failed to get involved in any of the eight goals the Canucks scored on this night and recorded three shots on goal for 4.8 fantasy points at less than 10% ownership. Big-time disappointment with Myers.
Finally, the goaltending call could not have been any better as Carter hart recorded a 25-save shutout as the Flyers downed the Devils 4-0.
We got a shutout from our goalie, a goal at 1.6% ownership and 55.4 fantasy points from one of our players and we barely made it over the cash line. I’ll take a tiny profit over a loss, but a few of our picks let us down big-time and that was the difference on a high-scoring three-game slate.
Let’s move on to the biggest slate I’ve covered this season, an 11-gamer on this Thursday night.
C – Mark Scheifele (WPG) – $7,800 vs. MIN
You might call my relationship with the 2019-20 version of the Winnipeg Jets and love/hate one. If you’ve followed these FanDuel NHL DFS Picks in the early going this season, you’ve noticed that I’ve targeted their thin blueline three times already and have enjoyed quality results in doing so. However, I’ve also used the Jets on offense as well as they’ve scored at least four goals in three of their four games to open the season – all on the road – and I’m going to use them again tonight as they return home to take on the Minnesota Wild. The Wild have dropped back-to-back games to open the season and have allowed 10 goals in doing so. Meanwhile, the Jets ranked third with 3.68 goals per game at home last season and second with a 31.4% clip on their home power play. Sign me up for their star-studded top line in this one, beginning here with Scheifele who notched a trio of assists in the Jets’ 4-1 upset win over the Penguins on Tuesday. That’s now six points in four games for the 26-year-old after he tallied 84 points across 82 games a season ago. Scheifele isn’t going to shoot the puck a ton, but he’s converted on at least 18.4% of his shots in each of the last three seasons. Nonetheless, he’s a very nice option at home against a struggling Wild team tonight.
C – Dylan Strome (CHI) – $5,000 vs. SJ
The Chicago Blackhawks will play their first game of the season on North American soil after opening the year with a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers as part of the NHL’s Global Series last week in Prague, Czech Republic. Strome didn’t factor into the scoring in that one, but I think he’ll be in for a nice season after a wildly productive stint with the Blackhawks after a mid-season trade to Chicago last season. Strome will take on a Sharks team that has started the season 0-4-0 and has allowed 4.25 goals per game on defense. They’ll also face backup Aaron Dell who posted an ugly 3.17 GAA and .886 Sv% last season and is off to a 3.08 GAA and .897 Sv% in two appearances this season. Strome is once again set to center the Blackhawks’ second line that also includes long-time friend Alex DeBrincat, but this season it appears the Blackhawks are going to load up their top power play unit with Strome, DeBrincat, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews as the forwards. Strome notched 17 goals and 51 points in 58 games with the Blackhawks last season – a team that finished eighth in league offense despite missing the playoffs again. I think there’s plenty of value to be had here in the Blackhawks’ home opener tonight.
W – Patrik Laine (WPG) – $7,600 vs. MIN
Next man up in our three-man Jets stack is Laine who got his wish from the offseason and is now skating alongside Scheifele and Blake Wheeler on the Jets’ top line while the trio is once again reuniting on the top power play unit. He skated on the second line to begin the season, but has since been moved to the top line and has a goal and three assists over the last two games as a result. The sharp-shooting Laine tallied just 30 goals last season – a far cry from the 44 he scored the season prior as well as the 36 he scored across just 73 games in his rookie season. However, we’ve seen Laine go on some historic hot stretches in his career as he scored 18 of his 30 goals from last season in the month of November alone. He’s shooting the puck plenty with 12 shots through four games, a three-shot-per-game pace that adds up to 246 shots in an 82-game season, almost identical to the 245 he posted in 82 games a season ago. Laine is seeing more than a minute’s worth of additional ice time this season as he’s skated 18:26 through four games this season after skating 17:14 per game last season. I’m expected 40-plus goal from Laine again this season and after tallying four points over his last two games I’ll certainly look for him to stay hot in this one.
W – Blake Wheeler (WPG) – $7,300 vs. MIN
Completing our three-man stack is Wheeler who has flown under the radar in the early going despite scoring two goals and adding an assist through four games on the season. The reason Scheifele won’t log a ton of shots on goal is due to the fact that both of his linemates do. Laine is going to easily surpass the 200-shot barrier this season – barring injury – however Wheeler also loves to shoot the puck after putting 231 shots on goal himself a season ago, which actually resulted in the fewest shots on goal since the 2013-14 season. Wheeler also suffered from a low 8.7% shooting percentage that saw him score just 20 goals, although he racked up a ton of assists with 71 for 91 points across all 82 games. Wheeler is the pass-first option on the Jets’ power play. He scored just two power play goals last season, but dished out a whopping 31 power play assists after notching 34 power play helpers the season prior. Due to the Jets’ thin blueline, I was worried about how it would affect their offense from a possession standpoint, but since the Jets have absolutely dominated the even-strength possession to the tune of a 58.5% Corsi For% – good for third in the league – I think they will erupt for more offense in their home opener against a struggling Wild team.
W – Alex DeBrincat (CHI) – $6,500 vs. SJ
DeBrincat is perhaps a sneaky pick for the Rocket Richard Trophy as the NHL’s goals leader this season, however he’s not a sneaky pick in my mind after you look at the results in his brief two-year NHL career to this point. After notching 28 tallies in his rookie season in 2017-18, DeBrincat went all the way to surpassing the 40-goal barrier with 41 tallies on 220 shots on goal last season, a season he started at just 20 years of age. Now, you’ll notice that DeBrincat did so at a high 18.6% shooting percentage, but this is a guy who is going to shoot at a high percentage in his NHL career thanks to a deadly one-timer. He’s not a guy that just puts the puck on net from everywhere but rather a player who finds open spots on the ice and is a quick-strike option once there. He owns a 17.2% shooting percentage through 165 career games to this point and I’m not sure we should expect that number to plummet anytime soon. His season got off to a fine start with a goal in the season-opener last week and he fired five shots on net to boot. And yes, his goal was a one-timer on a nice feed from Patrick Kane. He should be at least in the 40-goal range again this season and has quickly become one of the most dangerous goal-scorers in the NHL at the ripe old age of 21.
W – Robby Fabbri (STL) – $3,000 vs. OTT
After rostering a high-priced Jets main stack and a fairly high-priced Blackhawks secondary stack – as well as my goalie – I had just $3,800 of average salary to play with with a winger and defense spot open. I am going to use a two-man Blues stack as they take on the Ottawa Senators tonight in Ottawa. Fabbri comes to us at the minimum winger price tonight, but I like the opportunity ahead. First, he takes on a Senators team that ranked dead-last in team defense last season and could very well land there again after allowing nine goals across the first two games of their season so far. Second, Fabbri should get some solid even-strength ice time on the Blues’ third line alongside Tyler Bozak and Zach Sanford. However, the biggest opportunity should come on the Blues’ power play where he will skate on the same unit as Vladimir Tarasenko, Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz. It’s being labeled as the second power play unit, however I’m not sure that’s the case with that firepower on board. With Robert Thomas sidelined, look for Fabbry to increase his 1:12 of average power play time per game. He’s without a point in three games and has just one shot on goal, but I love the upside at the minimum price tonight.
D – Erik Gustafsson (CHI) – $5,500 vs. SJ
Completing our three-man stack is Gustafsson who has emerged on the scene as one of the more productive defensemen in the NHL. A late bloomer at 27, Gustafsson erupted for 17 goals and 60 points last season after impressing with 16 points in 35 games in the 2017-18 season. His 92 points in 156 career NHL games to this point is good for a 0.59 points-per-game clip, a very good number for a defenseman. On what was an aging Blackhawks defensive group, Gustafsson has taken over the go-to guy on the team’s top power play unit, however he’s also logging plenty of ice time in all situations and skated 25:43 in the team’s opener in Europe last week. With Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook in the twilight of their careers and needing to skate less minutes, look for Gustafsson to maintain a high usage rate this season. He put that high minute total to good use in the first game of the season with two assists – one on the power play – and two shots on goal to go along with a blocked shot to boot. The former 4th-round pick in the 2012 entry draft is emerging late but in a big way as the new main man on the Blackhawks’ blueline.
D – Vince Dunn (STL) – $3,900 vs. OTT
Completing our Blues mini-stack is Dunn who is an offense-first blueline that doesn’t see a ton of minutes on that Blues blueline. Dunn notched 12 goals and 35 points last season across 78 games for the Blues, however those numbers should take on more significance when we realize he did so in just 17:32 of ice time per game – a real small number for a defenseman. This season, he’s pointless in three games and is seeing just 16:08 of ice time in that span. That said, I’m extremely encouraged by the fact that Dunn leads all Blues skaters with 2:23 of power play ice time per game this season while skating on the same unit as Fabbri as well as Tarasenko and Co. Perhaps their two units will be used almost equally, but the more dangerous one in my opinion is the one featuring their best goal-scorer in Tarasenko. Dunn’s ice time is brought down by the fact that he doesn’t kill penalties and skates on the third pair at even strength. Still, the Senators are already one of the league’s worst penalty killing teams at just 62.5% for the season (T-28th) as they’ve allowed three power play goals in just eight short-handed chances. With that, I’ll take the Blues’ most utilized power play man alongside a minimum-salary winger skating with him on that group.
G – Connor Hellebuyck (WPG) – $7,600 vs. MIN
Now, I am contemplating between two goaltenders on this slate, both affordable and both in nice positions to win. If you roster Hellebuyck, you’re leaving $700 on the table in this lineup. However, I also like Carey Price at $8,200 at home against the Detroit Red Wings tonight, but his Canadiens teammates are playing their second game in as many nights tonight after allowing five goals last night in an overtime loss to the Sabres, so I’m a little bit concerned that Montreal’s legs might be a little slow tonight against a young Red Wings group. I think the Jets are going to give Hellebuyck plenty of goal support tonight, so I am going to do with the win upside here despite the Jets being -120 favorites compared to the Canadiens at -180. After a sluggish preseason and a rough opening night in which he allowed five goals on 31 shots at the Rangers, Hellebuyck yielded the crease to backup Laurent Brossoit who didn’t fare overly well in games at the Devils and Islanders. As a result, Hellebuyck went back into the crease in Pittsburgh and stopped 37 of 38 Penguins shots and earned the 4-1 win in the process. He endured a down season after a Vezina-nominated 2017-18 season, however if the Jets can keep dominating the possession game it could make it easier on him. Again a Wild team that’s been outscored 10-4 in two games this season, I’ll take the value upside with Hellebuyck tonight.