NHL DFS Primer: Thursday (12/30)
My previous recommendations from Tuesday’s three-game slate proved to be red-hot, as every skater scored at least one point, and both goaltenders won in overtime or a shootout to return enough value to cash lineups. Timo Meier (RW – SJ) had two points along with Chandler Stephenson (C – VGK), while the Tampa Bay Lightning veteran first-line stack comprised of Steven Stamkos (C – TB) and Ondrej Palat (LW – TB) both notched a point, including Palat’s game-winning goal in overtime. Tuesday’s slate provided quite a bit of scoring action amongst teams, even those inefficient offensive teams like the Arizona Coyotes, who poured in seven goals against James Reimer (G – SJ) and the Sharks before losing in a shootout.
Wednesday doubled the number of games on the slate compared to Tuesday, with several others being postponed due to the league’s COVID-19 protocols. Once again, four of the six games had at least one team that scored four-plus goals, signaling that players are well-rested and fresh after over a week’s pause in the schedule. Thursday has a few exciting matchups ahead of puck drop, featuring the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Florida Panthers. Assuming no other games experience further postponement, the seven-game slate offers many quality options to construct winning DFS lineups. As always, I’ve spent time gathering a few of my favorite prospects and will explain why each one is worthy of being plugged into lineups tonight.
Recommended Plays: DraftKings
DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000
Brayden Point (C – TB): $7,900
An upper-body injury kept 25-year old center Brayden Point out of Tampa Bay’s lineup for over a month. In his first game back from injury on Tuesday, Point racked up three points, including two goals, dominating a bad Montreal Canadiens team. He skated over 22 minutes and took six shots on goal, meaning his usage was high due to the extensive rehab over the past five weeks. Point skates on the top powerplay unit and is the second-line center, skating alongside Alex Killorn (LW – TB), who dished two assists during their 5-4 overtime win against the Canadiens in their last game. Point and company will face a talented in-state rival, but goaltender Jonas Johansson (G – FLA) will defend the crease for the Panthers, not Sergei Bobrovsky (G – FLA). The 26-year old relief netminder has a horrendous 3.89 GAA in six starts, surrendered eight goals to Toronto, and was pulled after giving up a quick four goals against a bad Ottawa Senators team. Point and the rest of Tampa Bay should take advantage of the mismatch in net and pour in a couple of goals to return solid value in Thursday lineups.
Alex Killorn (LW – TB): $5,700
32-year old Alex Killorn is a second-line winger for Tampa Bay and has been extremely active in the offensive zone in his last three games, totaling three assists and a goal during this stretch. Like Brayden Point, he benefits from skating on the Lightning’s top powerplay unit and is currently third in total points (27) for Tampa Bay, delivering 18 assists and nine goals through 31 games played. His momentum and the return of Point on the second line is a massive boost for Killorn. Factor in the sub-par goaltending displayed by Florida Panthers goaltender Jonas Johansson. It becomes obvious that stacking Killorn and Point is the best way to maximize value within Tampa Bay’s offense. Killorn is a solid value, especially based on his $5,700 salary. Even if you opt to skip the potential stack, the 32-year old winger is talented enough to return value in lineups down in Miami on Thursday night.
Alexandre Carrier (D – NSH): $3,000
Covid-19 has left top Nashville defenseman Roman Josi (D – NSH) sidelined ahead of Thursday’s road contest against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The 25-year old was blanked in his last game against Washington on Wednesday night but previously had a three-game assist streak. Carrier earns additional quality minutes on Nashville’s top powerplay unit and averages close to 24 minutes on ice with Josi out of the lineup. Carrier will face the Blue Jackets and goaltender Elvis Merzlikins (G – CBJ), who has cooled off considerably since a hot-start earlier in the season. Merzlikins has allowed at least four goals in four of his last five starts. Meaning Carrier has a plus-matchup to seize upon. Unfortunately, he tends to disappear for three-game stretches this season. Still, the extended run without Josi, plus the reasonable salary, makes Carrier an intriguing prospect based on the high-upside he possesses.
Semyon Varlamov (G – NYI): $7,800
It’s always risky to recommend a goaltender on a team that has double the number of losses compared to wins. Such is the case with New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov. The 33-year old goaltender is in his third season with the Islanders, and the offense has sputtered throughout the year, forcing Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin (G – NYI) to play error-free in the crease. While the offense struggles, Varlamov is coming off of his best performance of the season, saving 40 of 41 shots to earn the team a much-needed win over the Boston Bruins back on December 16th. The Buffalo Sabres have plunged into a complete tailspin, losing 11 of their last 13 games entering Thursday’s road contest in New York. Varlamov has an excellent opportunity to earn another win and earn a ton of saves, which are the most valuable goaltender metrics in NHL DFS lineups. He’s a solid value against the Sabres at home.
Recommended Plays: FanDuel
FanDuel maximum salary is set at $55,000
Sebastian Aho (C – CAR): $9,700
One of the league’s most talented centers has to be Sebastian Aho. He has managed to clear the league’s Covid-19 protocols, meaning Aho will return to face the Montreal Canadiens at home on Thursday night. Aho leads the Hurricanes in points (32) and is the only player to have double-digit goals (15) through only 26 games played. The 24-year old is a phenomenal offensive asset to acquire, even with the steep salary. Aho has at least two points in five straight games, which is an absurd stat line to read. Carolina runs through Aho for scoring. Against Canadiens’ goaltender Samuel Montembeault, who has allowed at least four goals in his last two starts, presents a juicy matchup to target. Use Aho as the foundational, blue-chip prospect to anchor your lineups due to his massive floor and ceiling.
Teuvo Teravainen (RW – CAR): $6,700
27-year old Teuvo Teravainen is a massive beneficiary of skating alongside talented personnel on Carolina’s first-line attack, which is comprised of himself, Sebastian Aho, and Nino Niederreiter (LW – CAR). The 27-year old winger is second in total points (23) and has played well in recent stretches, netting a goal against the Los Angeles Kings in his last start and racking up five assists before scoring his seventh goal of the season. He receives extra minutes on the top powerplay unit and will face Samuel Montembeault defending Montreal’s net on Thursday night. Teravainen is too talented to pivot off and is a fantastic stack prospect if you opt to pay up for Sebastian Aho.
Matt Roy (D – LAK): $5,200
Despite not being featured on either powerplay unit for the Los Angeles Kings, 26-year old defenseman Matt Roy remains a quality prospect in Thursday lineups. In his fourth year with the Kings, Roy has three assists across his last two games and averages three to four shots on goal per game. He has yet to score this season, but he is equipped with a high floor due to the number of blocked shots he can rack up in any given matchup. Don’t overthink this one because Roy is on the second line without exposure on either powerplay unit. In addition, four of his last five games have yielded an assist, which is precisely the type of consistency to seek out when rostering defensemen in DFS.
Chris Driedger (G – SEA): $7,300
The Seattle Kraken have not lived up to their offseason hype, but goaltender Chris Driedger has been a good find. The 27-year old netminder relieves Philipp Grubauer (G – SEA) but has managed to perform well in most games, earning three wins thanks to allowing only one goal in three separate contests. He has allowed four goals in two games, but one of these still resulted in a win. The Kraken are on a three-game losing streak and sitting at the bottom of the Pacific Division, but they will have an opportunity to right the ship against the Calgary Flames. The Flames have lost four straight games entering Thursday’s contest, and it’s been directly a result of their offense, which has only managed to score three goals once during the slump. This plays right into Driedger’s hand, so make sure to take advantage of the great value he has in a plus-matchup at home.