NHL DFS Primer: Saturday (11/6)
The National Hockey League will reward its fans with a massive 12-game slate to kick off the third weekend of the young season. Teams have already begun to separate themselves within their respective divisions, with some players alternating between impressive highs and shocking lows, depending on the opponent and momentum generated throughout the game. Saturday will pit the league’s best teams against each other for the first time this season, as the undefeated Carolina Hurricanes travel to play the 9-0-1 Florida Panthers in perhaps the most high-octane game of the season thus far.
With such a massive amount of players to select when constructing DFS lineups, it’s always a good idea to deploy the line-stacking approach, particularly on an offense that has been consistent enough to yield a few points in most games. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring teams who aren’t at the top of their division either, as teams like the Los Angeles Kings, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Boston Bruins are in the midst of two or three-game winning streaks.
Let’s check out some of the best players to prioritize ahead of a jam-packed Saturday slate.
Recommended Plays: DraftKings
DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000
Tomas Hertl (C – SJ): $5,600
Tomas Hertl has looked good in his ninth season with the Sharks, producing at least one point in three consecutive games. The veteran skates on the second-line but earns additional opportunities on the Sharks’ top powerplay unit, helping Hertl score three of his five goals this season earlier in the week. He has four blocked shots and averages over 18 minutes of time on ice per game, so Hertl should be in line for more scoring opportunities against a struggling New Jersey Devils team. Goaltender Jonathan Bernier (G – NJ) had his worst start of the season, allowing Anaheim to score four goals in his first loss defending the crease. This bodes well for Hertl, particularly at his salary, so plug him into lineups with confidence.
Oliver Bjorkstrand (RW – CBJ): $6,400
Skating on the second line for the Columbus Blue Jackets, Oliver Bjorkstrand has looked strong in his seventh season with the franchise, entering Saturday’s rematch against the Colorado Avalanche with a two-game point streak, including a two-assist outing against the Avalanche on Wednesday. Bjorkstrand saw over 20 minutes of time on ice and skates on the top powerplay unit, which means he should have plenty of opportunities to continue peppering the net with shots. He has at least three shots on goal in four of his last five games and is typically busy in the offensive zone, making Bjorkstrand a fine play in Saturday DFS lineups.
Nate Schmidt (D – WPG): $4,800
It’s typically a wise decision to avoid spending a big salary when rostering defensemen, as there are quite a few who take minimal shots on goal but are maestros at setting up a scoring play, racking up assists. Such is the case for Nate Schmidt, who skates on Winnipeg’s first defensive line and first powerplay unit, leading to an average of 21 minutes of time on ice through the first ten games this season. Schmidt is riding momentum from chipping in on three assists in his last two games, which also saw increased shots on goal. The 30-year old has not yet found the back of the net with his own stick but is still adjusting to his new team after finishing with 15 points (five goals, ten assists) for the Vancouver Canucks last season. He doesn’t possess a massive ceiling but is a salary-saving floor play option in lineups on Saturday against the New York Islanders.
Igor Shesterkin (G – NYR): $7,300
It’s been a season of ups and downs for New York Rangers’ goaltender Igor Shesterkin. He has a blistering 1.85 GAA and .943 save percentage across eight starts this season, leading to a 5-3 record. However, his most recent start was far from his best effort, allowing three goals in a loss to Vancouver earlier in the week. Rested and prepared for their Saturday road contest against a Calgary Flames squad that has lost two in a row, Shesterkin should be able to patrol the net with expertise, as the Flames have failed to score more than three goals in either of their latest losses. Shesterkin won’t often be available at a $7,300 salary, so take advantage of the buy-low opportunity to yield a massive amount of points in lineups by the end of Saturday night.
Recommended Plays: FanDuel
FanDuel maximum salary is set at $55,000
Nick Suzuki (C – MON): $6,000
Montreal has been struggling to stop opposing offenses, allowing 40 goals across 12 games, plummeting the Canadiens to the bottom of the Atlantic Division. Despite a less than ideal start, the blame should not be passed to 22-year old Nick Suzuki, as he has been a rare bright spot for the team this season. Suzuki has five points in his last two games, scoring a goal in each contest while pouring in three assists. He had been on a goal slump prior to this burst across the last two games, so take advantage of the momentum Suzuki has ahead of Saturday’s home game against a vulnerable Vegas Golden Knights team.
Matthew Tkachuk (RW – CGY): $7,000
Matthew Tkachuk has been on fire as of late, entering Saturday’s home game against the New York Rangers with a five-game point streak that includes goals in four of his last five outings. The son of legendary Keith Tkachuk seemingly absorbed all of his father’s talent, as he flies around on Calgary’s first-line and top powerplay unit, averaging nearly 21 minutes of time on ice in his last four games. The 23-year old already has five years of experience with the Flames under his belt and has 17 shots on goal across his last three games. This just goes to show how involved Tkachuk is within the Flames’ offensive attack, as he is tied for the fourth-most points (7) on the team, with five points scored in his last five games. The salary is justified with this heavy involvement and efficiency within the offense, making Matthew Tkachuk a great insertion into Saturday lineups.
Jake Bean (D – CBJ): $3,800
Jake Bean has been very quiet in terms of point production this season for his new team in Columbus, however, he is coming off of a two-assist game that helped lead the Blue Jackets to a win over the Colorado Avalanche earlier in the week. Now, he gets a rematch against the Avalanche but faces starting goaltender Darcy Kuemper (G – COL), who has not allowed more than three goals in his last four starts. Bean is a great salary saver with a decent floor thanks to the increased amount of blocked shots he has totaled, finishing with three in each of his last two games. Since blocked shots are equivalent to a shot on goal, Bean should continue to produce enough to value him as a mid-level floor play at a great discounted salary. Save your money for centers, wings, and goaltenders, as the production from those positions typically leads to winning lineups.
Ilya Sorokin (G – NYI): $8,500
The New York Islanders should double-up the contract for goaltender Ilya Sorokin, as the team has only allowed 20 goals this season despite scoring only 23 goals, keeping the Islanders at a plus-three goal differential and very much a contender in the Metropolitan Division. The 26-year old netminder got off to a horrible start this season, allowing five goals in each of the first two games. However, when looking closely at these finishes, one notices that it occurred against Florida and Carolina, the top two teams in the league at the moment. Since the disastrous start, Sorokin has only allowed three goals once, going 4-2 during this stretch. Sorokin has a 1.92 GAA in his last two starts and will have a relatively difficult challenge against a Winnipeg Jets team that has scored 37 goals this season. I’m still fully confident in paying up to roster Sorokin in lineups, as he has yielded two shutout performances this season while limiting more effective offenses to two goals.