NHL DFS Primer: Thursday (12/16)
Despite two of Tuesday’s 14 games getting postponed, there was a ton of offense on display amongst the other 24 teams. This included a shocking eight-goal outing from the lowly Ottawa Senators, who took advantage of Florida’s reserve goaltender, Spencer Knight (G – FLA). The Philadelphia Flyers also ended their losing skid with an impressive 6-1 throttling of the New Jersey Devils. At the same time, Pittsburgh and Toronto generated five goals each to cruise to wins in their respective matchups.
The outcome of Tuesday’s slate saw quite a few of my recommendations missed, as only Sidney Crosby (C – PIT) and Andre Burakovsky (LW – COL) produced points. In addition, both goaltenders James Reimer (G – SJ) and Linus Ullmark (G – BOS) played poorly defending the crease, allowing at least three goals and failing to secure a win for their team. These finishes have forced me to reconsider the probability of a line stack cashing out a lineup. Opting to plug Mark Scheifele (C – WPG) and Kyle Connor (LW – WPG) into the same lineup seemed like fantastic optimization at the time. However, lack of production in a plus-matchup has taught me that any team can win on any given night in the National Hockey League.
I’ve regrouped ahead of Thursday’s ten-game slate and collected several of my favorite players to analyze and pursue in lineups. So let’s get right into it! Set your lineups using one or several of these prospects and watch them rise into the green by the end of the night.
Recommended Plays: DraftKings
DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000
Boone Jenner (C – CBJ): $4,800
The Columbus Blue Jackets are quickly slipping down the Metropolitan Division standings, going 3-6-1 in their last ten games with a couple of disappointing letdowns late in matchups. Veteran first-line center Boone Jenner needs to rally his players, and he will get an opportunity against the Edmonton Oilers, who are amid their losing skid. The 28-year old was held without a point in his last game against the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday, but he does have 18 points on the season, including seven goals, sitting as the Blue Jackets’ third-highest point scorer. Edmonton will deploy veteran netminder Mikko Koskinen (G – EDM), who has surrendered at least three goals in four consecutive starts. Columbus only has a minus-one goal differential with 89 goals scored, placing the team in the league’s top half. Jenner has recorded at least one assist in every other game across his last four, so his opportunity against a bad goaltender becomes enticing. Factoring in his sub-$5,000 salary and he becomes a player I like inserting into lineups ahead of Thursday’s slate.
Mats Zuccarello (RW – MIN): $5,400
The 34-year old veteran has enhanced Minnesota’s first-line attack ever since joining the Wild back in 2019. Through roughly a quarter of the 2022 season, Mats Zuccarello has 22 points, closing in fast on the 35 points he finished with last season. Eight goals and 14 assists comprise a healthy resume but Zuccarello benefits from skating alongside one of the game’s most elite young talents in Kirill Kaprizov (LW – MIN). Zuccarello checks the same boxes as his youthful counterpart, but his salary is reduced by nearly half, which is the value to seek out in DFS. He has at least one point in six of his last seven games, including netting a goal on three shots against a good Vegas Golden Knights in his previous game. Buffalo surprised me against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday by winning 4-2, but I am willing to grab a talented offensive asset on one of the league’s best teams matched up against one of the worst. The Sabres will likely turn to Ukko-Pekka Luukonen, who is only in his second year in the league. Zuccarello will feast against the inexperienced netminder, so make sure you plug him into lineups based on the high floor he possesses.
Roman Josi (D – NSH): $7,600
It’s always a difficult decision to justify paying up for a defenseman in DFS. However, some defensemen are too involved in their offensive attack to ignore precisely where Roman Josi falls. The 31-year old has spent his entire career with the Nashville Predators and is one of very few defensemen who can claim the top spot on the point leaderboard. Josi has 27 points, tied with Mikael Granlund (RW – NSH), scoring nine goals and doubling his assist total (18) to provide stability for the Predators in every single game. Miraculously, Josi saw his four-game point streak end against the New York Rangers last weekend, but he still racked up four shots on goal and two blocked shots. This adds an excellent base to a talented player capable of generating a point or two. Colorado Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper (G – COL) has been solid as of late, allowing two or three goals in his last five starts, resulting in a 4-1 record. However, Josi is too talented and used on offense to pass over. Pay up and insert him into lineups based on his high floor guarantee and high ceiling potential.
Linus Ullmark (G – BOS): $8,200
I’ll be the first to admit my decision to start Linus Ullmark against Calgary on Tuesday was a bit misguided, as the Bruins ended up starting Jeremy Swayman (G – BOS) instead. However, on Thursday night, Ullmark should return to the ice and get a chance against the league’s second-lowest scoring team, the New York Islanders. The Islanders have little offense but a strong goaltender in Ilya Sorokin (G – NYI), so expect the five-goal over/under to hit the under in a defensive battle on the ice at the newly built UBS Arena. Ullmark has allowed only two goals in his last five games, which bodes well against the Islanders’ lackluster offense. A goalie win can erase a lack of production elsewhere in lineups, so target Ullmark in a favorable matchup on the road Thursday night.
Recommended Plays: FanDuel
FanDuel maximum salary is set at $55,000
Nazem Kadri (C – COL): $9,800
The return of Nathan MacKinnon (C – COL) has done little to slow down the frantic pace of Nazem Kadri. The 31-year old center now finds himself on Colorado’s second-line, but he remains on the top powerplay unit and highly efficient with his opportunities in the offensive zone. Kadri has a point in five consecutive games, including two goals and five assists in his last three games, entering Thursday’s road contest against the Nashville Predators. The best part about rostering Kadri is that he doesn’t require many shots on goal to produce. He is the primary scorer and leader on the second-line while skating for 18 minutes average time on ice during this season. Kadri is likely the most expensive prospect on a second-line anywhere on Thursday’s slate. Still, he will face Nashville goaltender Juuse Saros (G – NSH), who is coming off an impressive shutout win over the New York Rangers. Kadri remains a tempting prospect, but it’s more likely that he generates a point instead of the multi-point outings he’s finished with across his last two starts. He remains a great prospect to insert into lineups ahead of Thursday’s puck drop.
Lucas Raymond (RW – DET): $5,400
This is not my first time being drawn to Detroit’s rookie winger, Lucas Raymond. The 19-year old is equipped with sensational skating ability and speed, which is why he leads the Red Wings in points (25) through 29 games. Ten goals and 15 assists are juicy, but Raymond will be tested against Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen (G – CAR). Andersen was brought in by the Hurricanes in a total revamp of their goaltending depth, and he has lived up to the hype, flexing a 1.92 GAA and .930 save percentage from earning 14 wins in 19 starts. Raymond is talented enough to overcome this level of play from Andersen and doesn’t even skate on either powerplay unit! Raymond has three assists over his last three games, including a two-assist effort against the St. Louis Blues a week ago. He’s relatively inexpensive and benefits from a solid first-line attack comprised of Tyler Bertuzzi (LW – DET) and Dylan Larkin (C – DET), so plug Larkin in as a high-floor salary-saving prospect.
Drew Doughty (D – LAK): $6,900
Drew Doughty has shaken off his two-game point drought with an assist and a goal in his last two outings while skating a whopping 25 minutes average time on ice in his previous three games. The 32-year old is another franchise defenseman for the Kings, having spent over a decade with the team and experiencing the highs of championships and lows of being a divisional bottom feeder. Currently, the Kings are fighting to maintain relevancy in the Pacific Division, so Doughty and the rest of the personnel will be scrapping for a win against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night. The Panthers will return to Sergei Bobrovsky (G – FLA) over Spencer Knight in the net, which will make it a more arduous task for Doughty to produce. Blocked shots and anywhere from three to five shots on goal per night is enough to form a healthy baseline for rostering Doughty, while the allure of his assist prowess makes him a potential high-ceiling defenseman.
Robin Lehner (G – VGK): $7,800
Vegas has been dominant in their last ten games, going 6-4 to sit third in the Pacific Division. Goaltender Robin Lehner has been up and down all season, but he draws a plus matchup against a New Jersey Devils team that has only scored three goals once in their last five games. This game is a tale of two opposite teams moving in different directions, and Lehner benefits greatly from being on a team that frequently wins with a high-powered offense. Grab Lehner as a safe, cheap goaltending option to stabilize your lineups.