NHL DFS Primer: Saturday (11/27)
Thanksgiving had an empty slate for the first time all season, allowing all 32 teams to spend the day celebrating the holiday with their families and friends. As a result, nearly all of the favorites won their game on Friday after a day of resting and eating, with Tampa Bay, Carolina, Minnesota, and Anaheim dominating their opponents with ease. Expect to see more of the same during Saturday’s nine-game slate, with Pittsburgh, Dallas, Colorado, and Los Angeles all favored at minus-200 odds on the moneyline.
In DFS, players who skate on the first line don’t always produce the most points. Ignoring second and third line skaters will limit your options and therefore requires all of the expensive blue-chip prospects rostered to perform at their ceiling. Grabbing a couple of cheap but consistent floor players is the way to approach building a lineup outside of one or two big names. Stacking is a strategy I often discuss in NHL DFS contests due to the way hockey awards an assist, as two or three players can help set up a scoring possession.
Based on various factors, I’ve gathered my favorite players on this slate and will explain why each one is worthy of being inserted into Saturday lineups.
Recommended Plays: DraftKings
DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000
Dylan Larkin (C – DET): $6,500
Seven years into his NHL career, Dylan Larkin is showing exactly why he is an asset in Detroit. The 25-year old centers the Red Wings’ first line and has 18 points through 17 games, ranking second-most on the team this season. Larkin enters Saturday’s contest at home against a reeling Buffalo Sabres team that is highly vulnerable in the net, which means Larkin has a fantastic opportunity to extend his point streak to seven games. He has three multi-point games during this span and is worth every penny in lineups on Saturday night.
Lucas Raymond (RW – DET): $5,000
Lucas Raymond turns out to be Detroit’s point leader with 20 points through 21 games played this season. The 19-year old winger is one of the league’s best rookies and has lived up to being drafted as the fourth overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. Raymond has accounted for at least one point in five of his last six games and is fresh off scoring his eighth goal of the season against St. Louis on Wednesday. Stacking Larkin and Raymond is expensive but well worth the outcome, as these two should dominate the offensive zone all night long against Sabres’ goaltender Aaron Dell (G – BUF). Dell has a 4.56 GAA in three starts for the injured veteran Craig Anderson (G – BUF), meaning Raymond and Larkin should have quite the night in the Motor City.
Vladislav Gavrikov (D – CBJ): $2,800
Vladislav Gavrikov has been solid in his third season with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Skating on the second defensive line and not being featured on either powerplay unit, the 26-year old defenseman has five points in his last three games and has a +13 plus-minus rating through 18 games this season. Gavrikov averages over 21 minutes of time on ice and is highly efficient with limited shots, adding two or three blocked shots per game to elevate his floor. Nevertheless, Gavrikov is one of the least discussed talents at the defensive position and should be inserted into lineups as a high-floor play at essentially the cheapest salary available on Saturday’s slate.
Jacob Markstrom (G – CGY): $7,900
One of my favorite DFS goaltenders all season has been Calgary Flames’ netminder, Jacob Markstrom. The 31-year old is having the best season of his career thus far with a 1.73 GAA and five shutouts, allowing the Flames to sit atop the Pacific Division a quarter of the way into the 2022 NHL season. Markstrom will face the Winnipeg Jets amid a five-game losing skid and have failed to score more than two goals since it began. However, don’t expect Markstrom to surrender any opening in the crease on Saturday to the Jets. He has everything lined up to post his sixth shutout of the season, making Markstrom a blue-chip prospect to add into DFS lineups.
Recommended Plays: FanDuel
FanDuel maximum salary is set at $55,000
Sidney Crosby (C – PIT): $7,300
Pittsburgh is on a winning streak thanks to the return of their revered captain and leader, Sidney Crosby. The 34-year old has led the Penguins on a five-game winning streak but has not done a ton to overwhelm opponents in terms of scoring, totaling only three points across the seven games he’s competed in since November 14th. Crosby will have a fantastic matchup against a struggling Montreal Canadiens team at home on Saturday, as their projected goaltender Jake Allen (G – MTL), just surrendered six goals to Washington during his last start. Pittsburgh will be busy in the offensive zone, and Crosby usually sprays two to four shots on goal, so if a couple of these find the back of the net, your lineup will ascend into the green. Even one point is enough to warrant plugging Crosby into lineups as a high-floor play with a high-ceiling.
Jake Guentzel (LW – PIT): $7,900
Jake Guentzel is Pittsburgh’s most potent offensive weapon this season, carrying an eight-game point streak into Saturday’s home game against a bad Montreal Canadiens team. The 27-year old varies anywhere between three to eight shots on goal per game and skates on the first line and top powerplay unit, meaning Guentzel draws nearly all of the lucrative scoring opportunities. Guentzel racked up an assist and scored a goal during his last matchup against Montreal on November 18th, so expect him to replicate this performance again for Penguins fans in attendance on Saturday. Stacking Guentzel with Crosby is expensive, but they have a high probability of winning DFS contests due to their talent, chemistry, and lackluster opponent.
Jakob Chychrun (D – ARI): $5,200
One of the longest-tenured Arizona Coyotes players is defenseman Jakob Chychrun. In his sixth year with the franchise, Chychrun is highly active in the offensive zone, attempting at least four shots on goal in three consecutive games while finally ending his point slump against Columbus with a goal and an assist on November 18th. Since this burst, Chychrun has been one of the most reliable defensemen for offensive production and should continue to remain involved against the Dallas Stars on Saturday night. Stars’ goaltender Anton Khudobin (G – DAL) allowed an abysmal seven goals in his last start in the crease, so Arizona certainly has a chance to earn their fifth win of the season. Chychrun is a high-floor defenseman with an even higher ceiling if his shots find the back of the net. In addition, his salary is a bit undervalued, making Chychrun a solid play in DFS lineups Saturday against the Stars.
Cal Petersen (G – LAK): $8,600
Los Angeles started hot but has since faded in the Pacific Division, losing five straight games due to a combination of dried-up offense and lackluster goaltending. Cal Petersen is the younger of the Kings’ two goaltenders and is likely looking forward to the soft matchup against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. They have scored the second-fewest goals (44) of any team in the league through 18 games played. Petersen allowed five goals in his last start against one of the league’s best teams in the Carolina Hurricanes. Now, he gets the polar opposite, facing a team that lacks offensive firepower. Expect Peterson to return to allowing two or fewer goals during a favorable matchup at home after receiving two games off to rest. So pay up and watch the 27-year old netminder go to work for your Saturday lineups.