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NHL DFS Primer: Thursday (11/18)

by Matthew MacKay | @Matt_MacKay_ | Featured Writer
Nov 18, 2021
Leon Draisaitl

Parity is something that every professional sports league strives to achieve, making it harder to predict the winner of a game despite potentially lopsided odds. The National Hockey League has achieved parity in many of the games played during the first quarter of the 2022 season. Chicago and Arizona, among the worst teams in the league, just won games on back-to-back nights. That’s not to say the best teams aren’t winning. Florida ended its losing skid in a dominant 6-1 win over the New York Islanders, and Toronto shut out Nashville to continue their success on the ice.

With 12 games on the slate for Thursday, there are dozens of players to sift through, but only a few that will wind up being recommended. So whether it’s their opportunity, recent production, or a vulnerable opponent, here are a few of the players I like a lot heading into another wild night in the NHL.

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Recommended Plays: DraftKings

DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000

Leon Draisaitl (C -EDM): $9,100
The most potent one-two punch on any offense in the NHL can be found in Edmonton. Star centers Connor McDavid (C – EDM) and Leon Draisaitl have been racking up points this season, as both players currently rank first and second overall in points scored. Draisaitl previously was a wing on the first-line alongside McDavid, but the decision to move him to the Oilers’ second-line center has paid dividends, as the 26-year old has seven goals and three assists in his last four games played. Draisaitl is one of the most expensive players in DFS for a reason and should have another productive night despite facing a solid goaltender in Connor Hellebuyck (G – WPG) of the Winnipeg Jets.

Jake Guentzel (LW – PIT): $6,500
Pittsburgh has been dealing with injuries and just had their team sold to a different management group, creating an adverse start to the Penguins’ season. Fortunately, Sidney Crosby (C – PIT) is back in the lineup, elevating Jake Guentzel’s appeal in lineups against a bad Montreal Canadiens team. With Carey Price (G – MON) stepping away for personal reasons, the Canadiens have been left reeling with poor goaltending play. Guentzel has a point in each of his last three games, including two goals in consecutive outings, while racking up at least three or more shots on goal during this stretch. Ignore the slow start and invest in the value Guentzel presents against a Canadiens team that has a minus-23 goal differential, which is second-worst in the league. Take advantage of the plus-matchup and insert Guentzel into lineups with confidence.

Darnell Nurse (D – EDM): $5,800
If you’ve read any of my previous NHL DFS Primers, you’ll know that stacking players on the same line is one of my preferred strategies. Edmonton has scored the second-highest number of goals (61). If you opt to roster Leon Draisaitl or Connor McDavid, pairing them with defenseman Darnell Nurse is a great way to double your point production in lineups. Nurse is not a goal-scorer, but he is heavily involved with setting up scoring plays in the offensive zone, netting 11 assists and two in consecutive games entering Thursday’s home-ice revenge game rematch against the Winnipeg Jets. Nurse also spends an absurdly high amount of time on ice, averaging over 25 minutes per game this season. As a result, he’s a quality defenseman who won’t cost you a whole lot to insert into Thursday lineups.

Elvis Merzlikins (G – CBJ): $8,200
The Columbus Blue Jackets continue to win despite the young nucleus of talent assembled on their roster. Goaltender Elvis Merzlikins has been a big piece of this success, as he is averaging 2.49 GAA and a .925 save percentage to earn a 6-2 record as a starter. Unfortunately, the 26-year old Latvian netminder has not had his best performances in the crease across the last two games, allowing eight goals. So why roster Merzlikins if he isn’t playing his best? He gets a bounce-back opportunity against the Arizona Coyotes on the road Thursday night. The Coyotes just surprised many with a 3-2 win over a good St. Louis Blues team. However, their offense has only managed 26 goals this season. This ranks 32nd, meaning Merzlikins should be confident and comfortable making saves all night long. Pay up for an easy win, which will yield an additional 12 points for Merzlikins once the final horn rings.

Recommended Plays: FanDuel

FanDuel maximum salary is set at $55,000

Ryan Getzlaf (C – ANA): $6,000
Anaheim has been the most surprising team to begin the 2022 NHL season, led by veteran center Ryan Getzlaf in his 17th season. The Ducks are in the midst of an eight-game winning streak and sit atop a competitive Pacific Division, totaling 60 goals thanks to Getzlaf’s ability to find wingers Adam Henrique (LW – ANA) and Troy Terry (RW – ANA) for frequent scoring ability. On the year, Getzlaf has 17 assists and a goal, converting at least one assist in nine of his last ten games played. Carolina is one of the best teams in the league and has a stalwart goaltender in Frederik Andersen (G – CAR). However, elite goaltenders have not been a problem for the Ducks offense, so take advantage of their momentum and high-scoring offense by grabbing Getzlaf, who is one of the best value pieces available on their first-line.

Troy Terry (RW – ANA): $7,000
Troy Terry has developed his game during his fifth year with the Ducks, leading Anaheim with 21 points with 11 goals and ten assists across 16 games. The 24-year old winger earns additional minutes on the Ducks’ second powerplay unit. Still, the enormous appeal is the stacking strategy alongside Ryan Getzlaf or another player from their first line. Terry has scored a point in every game he’s played this season. You won’t find a more consistent talent available to insert into lineups, as his floor is extremely high due to his knack for success in the offensive zone. So pay up and enjoy deploying a Ducks stack with Terry as the focal point in Thursday DFS lineups.

Jared Spurgeon (D – MIN): $4,800
Jared Spurgeon has been relatively quiet in his last couple of games, but he elevates his floor by racking up blocked shots in the absence of points. Seven blocked shots in his previous two games present an appealing opportunity to plug a defenseman into lineups. The 31-year old has a propensity for getting involved with scoring for the Wild, earning the bulk of his eight points during the first two weeks of November. Spurgeon is due for a high-upside game, and Thursday’s contest at home against a pedestrian Dallas Stars team presents a great opportunity to bank on Spurgeon in lineups. Stars’ goaltender Anton Khudobin (G – DAL) is projected to start in the crease, and he has allowed three or more goals in four of his five starts this season. This provides extra incentive for plugging Spurgeon into lineups at a significantly discounted value due to his lack of points scored last week.

Carter Hart (G – PHI): $7,200
Philadelphia is sandwiched right amid the Metropolitan Division, a direct result of the top-tier play provided by a 23-year old netminder, Carter Hart. Hart has a .500 record but has been hot in the last week, allowing only one goal in each of his previous two starts, yielding a 2-0 record. This becomes more impressive when looking at the number of shots he has faced, totaling 72 saves. Wins and saves are the stats to monitor when considering goaltenders to roster in DFS, and Hart excels in both categories. Granted, the Tampa Bay Lightning are a formidable offensive opponent, but Hart has proved his ability to navigate the crease with confidence. He’s a fantastic value due to the opponent, so take advantage and plug Hart into lineups.

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Matthew MacKay is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Matthew, check out his archive and follow him @Matt_MacKay_.

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