NHL DFS Primer: Saturday (12/4)
Ten games are on tap for Saturday’s NHL slate, providing a plethora of players to target when constructing DFS lineups. There are some fascinating matchups between dominant teams, like Minnesota against Toronto and St. Louis at Florida, so be prepared to deploy the stacking strategy to double-dip into scoring plays and maximize the number of points in your lineup. Winnipeg and Vegas combined for 15 goals on a smaller Friday slate, while only one game ended with fewer than seven total goals. The over has frequently been hitting this season, and Friday’s slate is a microcosm of the offensive firepower present on so many teams.
There are always a couple of players worthy of consideration from any team, even the ones who struggle to score and surrender a ton of goals. I’ve compiled a few prospects I like quite a bit in Saturday DFS lineups by parsing through the box scores, usage, opponent, and other metrics. It’s a group with variety, meaning some are blue-chip automatic locks for any lineup, while others are a better return on investment due to being third or fourth in points for their team. A couple of recommendations are salary-saving floor plays necessary to stabilize lineups. However, all of them possess value. Just make sure you identify which prospects align best with your lineup construction.
Recommended Plays: DraftKings
DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000
Nathan MacKinnon (C – COL): $8,900
A lower-body injury kept Colorado’s best player sidelined for nearly three weeks. Since his return, Nathan MacKinnon has been great, notching at least one assist in both of his games. He’s skating around 20 minutes per night and has developed into an elite center over the years. Since 2017, MacKinnon has had three seasons with 90+ points, demonstrating his top-tier talent. He has 13 points but only one goal in ten games with the Avalanche this season, so expect him to continue making up for lost time against an inferior Ottawa Senators team. The Senators are expected to start netminder Filip Gustavsson (G – OTT), who has allowed six goals in two of his last three starts, including a game against Colorado before Thanksgiving. MacKinnon is expensive for a reason, so if you want to build a foundation for your lineup, he’s the safest prospect to target.
Lucas Raymond (RW – DET): $5,200
19-year old Lucas Raymond has already earned a role on Detroit’s first line, skating alongside talents like Dylan Larkin (C – DET) and Pius Suter (C – DET) on the top powerplay unit as well. Raymond has performed well in his previous five games, scoring three goals and an assist. He will face off against the league’s lowest-scoring team but will be challenged with Ilya Sorokin (G – NYI) in the crease, as Sorokin has been the only quality player on a disappointing New York Islanders roster. In any case, Raymond is quick and talented with the stick, so he should continue to find the sweet spot in the offensive zone to extend Detroit’s winning streak to five games after Saturday’s matchup.
Victor Hedman (D – TB): $7,400
Victor Hedman is synonymous with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He’s now in his 13th season with the franchise and has contributed to quite a bit of their recent success, which is why he is second on the team in total points (22) due to his ability to set up scoring opportunities. The 30-year old defenseman is coming off of a dominant three-point outing against St. Louis, where he scored twice and netted an assist on five shots. Hedman will travel to Boston and should continue to be heavily involved on an offense stacked with talent. He’s a talented defenseman who is a significant contributor on offense, which is a rarity for most teams in the league. So pay up and reap the rewards of rostering arguably the hottest defenseman in the league at the moment.
Frederik Andersen (G – CAR): $8,500
Frederik Andersen has not earned a win since November 20th, but that will change Saturday night at home against a struggling Buffalo Sabres team. The 32-year old netminder was a big free-agent signing for the Hurricanes and still has a .928 save percentage with an 11-5 record in 16 starts. However, he’s allowed three goals in back-to-back games, which has caused some to grow weary of his talents. However, I’m here to reassure you that Andersen is in a smash spot against the Sabres, who have lost four of their last five. Their goaltending allows the opponent to rack up goals quickly, putting them in a quick deficit, so Andersen is a safe play, even if he winds up surrendering another three goals. Carolina is too talented on both sides of the ice to suffer a loss to the Sabres, so plug Andersen into Saturday lineups due to the plus-matchup.
Recommended Plays: FanDuel
FanDuel maximum salary is set at $55,000
Nazem Kadri (C – COL): $8,500
Although Nathan MacKinnon’s return has shifted the focus off Nazem Kadri, he’s worth grabbing in separate lineups. Kadri has two goals and an assist since MacKinnon came back into the fold, so there is little reason to doubt Kadri’s talent and outlook against Ottawa on Saturday night. The Senators have been one of the worst teams in the league all season, which can be seen in their minus-30 goal differential. Filip Gustavsson is the top goaltender, but his inability to defend the net makes all of the skaters on Colorado’s top two lines worthy of insertion into lineups essentially. Kadri is their point leader (30) for a reason, and while MacKinnon will soak up a few more opportunities, they don’t skate on the same line. Therefore, the opportunity for Kadri should remain relatively the same. He’s in a plus-matchup, so pay the salary and watch the points pile up.
Filip Forsberg (LW – NSH): $6,600
Filip Forsberg followed up his four-goal explosion against Columbus with a quiet performance that yielded zero points for the talented Nashville winger. The 27-year old returned from an upper-body injury right before Thanksgiving and has looked sharp in the five games he’s played, scoring six goals and two assists during this stretch. Montreal is a team that struggles to defend the crease with regularity, as Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen (G – MTL) has been in over his head all season. As a result, Nashville should find itself with frequent scoring opportunities. Forsberg skates on the top powerplay unit and first line, so he will continue to get valuable looks in the offensive zone. However, he’s a slight discount compared to other talented offensive players on Saturday’s slate, so take advantage and insert Forsberg into lineups with confidence.
Dmitry Orlov (D – WAS): $4,200
30-year old defenseman Dmitry Orlov is another player who has a decade of chemistry and familiarity with his team, which allows him to play puck at the highest level without needing to adjust. Orlov skates on the second-line for Washington and their second powerplay unit and has netted ten assists and four goals through 24 games this season. He hit his floor against Chicago, held to one blocked shot but unable to find little else. He gets a fresh start against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night. Orlov buried an assist and finished with a plus-two rating during Washington’s last game against Columbus earlier in November, resulting in a 4-3 win. 20 minutes of time on ice per matchup should allow Orlov to see several lucrative opportunities against the Blue Jackets at home on Saturday, so plug him into lineups as a discounted floor-play who can deliver a point to return good value.
Andrei Vasilevskiy (G – TB): $7,900
Andrei Vasilevskiy has been balling in the net for Tampa Bay, logging two shutouts in back-to-back starts over Thanksgiving weekend. Since these impressive shutouts, Vasilevskiy has allowed five goals across two games, going 1-1. The Lightning will travel north to face a Boston Bruins team with talent but has failed to generate much offense through 20 games this season. Vasilevskiy has a 2.14 GAA, which is fifth-best amongst goaltenders with at least 18 starts this season. It’s an excellent spot to roll him into lineups, as the team he faces is low-scoring, and he’s been a stalwart in between the pipes for much of the season. At under $8,000, Vasilevskiy can be considered a “steal,” making him a great goaltender to invest in during Saturday’s slate.