NHL DFS Primer: Saturday (1/1)
Happy New Year! As we settle into 2022, the NHL continues to ramp back up after suspending play for a week due to rising Covid-19 cases throughout the league. Since its return to action, teams have been red-hot on offense, pouring in goals thanks to fresh legs and motivation to advance within their divisions.
Nine matchups fill Saturday’s slate to ring in the New Year, featuring high-octane offenses such as Carolina, Florida, Minnesota, and Toronto. Let’s dive into the prospects that offer either a high-floor or high-upside outlook that will help cash your first NHL DFS lineups of 2022.
Recommended Plays: DraftKings
DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000
Sebastian Aho (C – CAR): $8,200
Carolina goes as Sebastian Aho goes. The 24-year old is the center on the Hurricanes’ first-line attack and has been the catalyst for their offense, sitting at the top of the team’s points leaderboard with 34 points and 15 goals. After a three-game absence in the league’s Covid-19 protocols, Aho returned against Montreal on Thursday and racked up two assists on three shots. Next, he and the Hurricanes will travel to Columbus to face goaltender Elvis Merzlikins (G – CBJ), who has allowed at least three goals in four straight starts. However, Aho should be able to bury a goal and end his one-game goal drought on Saturday, making him worth the high salary.
Eeli Tolvanen (LW – NSH): $3,400
22-year old Eeli Tolvanen is a phenomenal discount ahead of Saturday’s home game against the Chicago Blackhawks. The second-line winger earns additional minutes on the Predators’ second powerplay unit and has enough points (12) to rank inside the top-ten regarding the team’s total points leaderboard. Tolvanen had a four-game goal streak before the league suspended play for a week and assists in two of his previous three games. He does not earn a lot of time on ice, but he is active enough in the offensive zone to negate any concerns. He is a cheap, high-floor prospect that will return excellent value based on his cheap salary.
MacKenzie Weegar (D – FLA): $6,300
Florida has quality personnel surrounding every facet of its depth chart. This certainly applies to first-line defenseman Mackenzie Weegar. The 27-year old has been on fire in the two games since the league resumed, scoring a goal against the New York Rangers and racking up two assists against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the team’s 9-3 rout. Weegar takes quite a few shots when the team is in the offensive zone, ranging from two to six shots on goal. Despite not being featured on either powerplay unit, Weegar earns nearly 24 minutes average time on ice. He will face a Montreal Canadiens team lacking a quality goaltender, as Samuel Montembeault has allowed at least four goals in each of his last two starts. Nevertheless, Weegar is an excellent play considering the plus-matchup and his usage in the Panthers’ offense.
Sergei Bobrovsky (G – FLA): $8,500
Sticking with the Florida Panthers, I like Sergei Bobrovsky quite a bit during Saturday’s slate. The 33-year old goaltender is only 1-2 in his previous three starts, allowing at least three goals in all three games. However, the Montreal Canadiens are significantly worse than those three teams, as they have a minus-47 goal differential. This is second-worst in the league, only to the Arizona Coyotes. Bobrovsky can be a stone wall defending the crease, as he has a 2.49 GAA and .917 save percentage in 20 starts. Pay up to acquire the goaltender with the best matchup on Saturday’s slate.
Recommended Plays: FanDuel
FanDuel maximum salary is set at $55,000
John Tavares (C – TOR): $8,500
31-year old John Tavares has been a point-machine for Toronto in recent games. The 31-year old second-line center has a five-game point streak, including two multi-point performances, while only attempting two to three shots on goal. He benefits from skating on the Maple Leafs’ top powerplay unit but also helps from skating alongside Alexander Kerfoot (LW – TOR), as well as Mitch Marner (RW – TOR) and Auston Matthews (C – TOR) on the powerplay unit. If these weren’t enough reasons to consider paying up for the veteran center, he faces Ottawa Senators’ goaltender, Matt Murray (G – OTT). Murray has been atrocious in goal, allowing at least four goals in three of his last four starts. Considering his matchup and momentum on offense, Tavares is worth every penny in lineups against the Senators on Saturday night.
Mats Zuccarello (RW – MIN): $6,400
Mats Zuccarello is in his third season with the Minnesota Wild and has popped off nicely through the first third of the 2022 NHL season. The 34-year old veteran winger skates alongside one of the league’s best players in Kirill Kaprizov (LW – MIN), which certainly helps him hit his ceiling more often than not. The Wild have not played a game since the league resumed action, but they will get a tough test against the St. Louis Blues and goaltender Jordan Binnington (G – STL). Binnington has been good but not great, allowing at least three goals in four of his previous six starts. However, Zuccarello should extend his point streak from the two-assist performance he delivered against Dallas back on December 20th.
Mark Giordano (D – SEA): $5,100
After spending 15 years with the Calgary Flames, Mark Giordano has adapted nicely to the league’s newest expansion team: the Seattle Kraken. The 38-year old defenseman skates on their top defensive line and top powerplay unit and is coming off a massive three-point explosion against his former team on Thursday. Before this game, Giordano had been held in check without a point for four games. Considering his volatility, it’s a bit of a risk, but Giordano has proven that he can score and rack up assists when the Kraken mount an attack. Vancouver has clawed their way into an 8-1-1 record in their last ten games, but Seattle is desperate for a win, so expect Giordano to navigate the offensive zone efficiently to net a point.
Thatcher Demko (G – VAN): $7,900
26-year old Thatcher Demko has been playing out of his mind during Vancouver’s recent stretch of wins. He is the primary reason for the Canucks’ success, allowing three goals only once in his last six starts, including a shutout performance against the Los Angeles Kings. Seattle is capable of scoring 90 goals, but Vancouver can keep up. Demko is an excellent value below $8,000 due to the high probability of winning, which adds 12 points to lineups, erasing three goals. Demko will likely allow just one or two goals in a favorable matchup based on his recent performances, so make sure to prioritize inserting him into lineups ahead of Saturday’s late slate.