NHL DFS Primer: Thursday (1/13)
Tuesday’s slate produced quite a bit of offense, particularly with Nikita Kucherov (RW – TB), who I loved at $6,800 on DraftKings, entering a road game against the Buffalo Sabres reserve goaltender. Kucherov wasted no time, burying three goals en route to a 6-1 blowout victory. Brayden Point (C – TB) contributed an assist during this dizzying offensive outing by Kucherov, who scored his first goals since returning from a lower-body injury that kept him sidelined for all of November and December. This was not my only successful recommendation, as Nashville’s star defenseman Roman Josi (D – NSH) racked up three assists in a 5-4 overtime win against the Colorado Avalanche. Brent Burns (D – SJ) also maxed out his value with three assists of his own during a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Only Sidney Crosby (C – PIT) and Vancouver goaltender Thatcher Demko (G – VAN) came up short of their projected totals. Overall, it was another fantastic slate that should’ve yielded green lineups in various contests by the end of the night.
Thursday has a vast 11-game slate to analyze. Even better, there are dozens of blue-chip prospects and hidden value players to take advantage of during a slate with double-digit matchups. There are quite a few lopsided contests, which usually produce significant scoring for the team with the more talented personnel. For example, Nashville against Buffalo, Carolina versus Columbus, and Calgary versus Ottawa can be one-sided blowouts. These are good games to sink your teeth into, but there are plenty of other players to acquire on lesser teams who offer higher-upside. Here are eight of my favorite players to add into DFS lineups during Thursday’s 11-game slate.
Recommended Plays: DraftKings
DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000
Sebastian Aho (C – CAR): $8,000
Sebastian Aho enters Tuesday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets well-rested after Carolina had their previous game postponed due to Covid-19. The 28-year old center is the top point leader (37) for the Hurricanes and has three assists across his last two games. Not only is he dominating on offense, but Aho also draws a plus-matchup against Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo (G – CBJ). Korpisalo has allowed at least three goals in his last two starts and gave up seven goals to Tampa Bay on January 4th. Carolina has a talent level comparable to the Lightning, and Aho will be leading the charge, so pay up to acquire him for the massive floor he will provide in your DFS lineups on Thursday night.
Alex DeBrincat (LW – CHI): $6,900
It isn’t every day that you see a second-line winger near the top of the points leaderboard. However, this is the scenario for 24-year old Alex DeBrincat, who has scored 23 goals to account for the vast majority of the Blackhawks’ scoring output this season. The next highest goal scorer is Brandon Hagel (LW – CHI) with eight, so DeBrincat is three times more likely to score a goal in any game than any of his teammates. Of course, it helps that he earns additional minutes on the top powerplay unit and typically averages three to four shots on goal. DeBrincat netted two goals and has scored at least one goal in six of his previous nine games and gets a juicy matchup against Montreal Canadiens reserve goaltender Samuel Montembeault. The 25-year old netminder has struggled all season, allowing 17 total goals across his previous four starts. Montreal has the second-biggest negative goal differential (-54), which means Chicago and DeBrincat should spend plenty of time spraying pucks in the offensive zone on Thursday. DeBrincat is an excellent value at under $7,000, so add him into as many lineups as possible ahead of the 8:30 pm ET puck drop.
Kris Letang (D – PIT): $7,000
If you’re hunting assists, look no further than Pittsburgh Penguins’ defenseman Kris Letang. The 34-year old appears to have found the fountain of youth, as he is the only Penguins player to have over 20 assists this season. You likely won’t get a goal from Letang, as he only has scored once all season, but the knack he has for setting up scoring possessions is unmatched. Letang has a five-game point streak and will have every opportunity to extend it to six games as the Penguins continue their road trip against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night. Veteran Kings netminder Jonathan Quick (G – LAK) is the starting goaltender after taking the last two games off. He has surrendered at least three goals in three of his previous four games, allowing Letang to find Jake Guentzel (LW – PIT), Sidney Crosby, and Evgeni Malkin (C – PIT) when he’s skating on the top powerplay unit. Letang is worth the high salary due to the consistent ability to generate assists regardless of the matchup.
Alexandar Georgiev (G – NYR): $7,700
25-year old Alexandar Georgiev has performed well as the New York Rangers’ reserve netminder this season. The Rangers have been an impressive unit through 37 games played, sitting in second place within the Metropolitan Division. This season, Georgiev has earned a 7-5 record in 12 starts and is defending the crease exceptionally well in four of his last five starts. During this stretch, Georgiev has allowed two or fewer goals and is riding the momentum entering Thursday’s road contest against San Jose. The Sharks are in the midst of a three-game winning streak, but they have done so by scoring at least three goals in every game. Georgiev will test their skill and ability and should come out with a win. He is cheap and worth the flier against a team like the Sharks that do not possess exceptional offensive talent.
Recommended Plays: FanDuel
FanDuel maximum salary is set at $55,000
Mark Scheifele (C – WPG): $7,100
Mark Scheifele has spent over a decade playing for the Winnipeg Jets franchise and has looked solid in his 11th season. Scheifele has nine goals and 14 assists and sits in fourth place on the Jets’ points leaderboard. The Jets have been affected by Covid-19 postponement more than most other teams in the league, playing their last game against the Colorado Avalanche that resulted in a 7-1 blowout loss. Scheifele should be well-rested after receiving a week off, and he faces Detroit Red Wings’ goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic (G – DET), who has allowed three goals in consecutive starts. Scheifele earns over 20 minutes average time on ice and skates on the top powerplay unit, so expect him to extend the four-game point streak to five games on the road Thursday night. Scheifele has scored two of his nine goals during this recent stretch, meaning he should rack up a point or two in a plus matchup.
Matt Duchene (RW – NSH): $7,700
In their previous ten games, Nashville has hit its stride mid-season, holding an 8-1-1 record. A massive piece of the offense is 30-year old first-line winger Matt Duchene. Duchene is one of only three players on the Predators with over 30 points (33) and can score goals (16) just as much as he can set up a scoring possession, racking up 17 assists through 33 games played. Duchene is effective without attempting hardly any shots on goal, as he benefits from skating on the first-line attack alongside Eeli Tolvanen (LW – NSH) and Mikael Granlund (C – NSH). Buffalo seems to be the team that always presents a plus-matchup for the opposition. Reserve goaltender Aaron Dell (G – BUF) is expected to start in net and has an atrocious 4.51 GAA with an 0-5 record this season. It will be open season for Duchene and the Preds all night long. Acquire Duchene for his dual high-floor and high-ceiling outlook.
Torey Krug (D – STL): $5,200
St. Louis remains a talented team, but they possess numerous undervalued players on Thursday’s slate. Particularly intriguing is 30-year old second-line defenseman Torey Krug. In his second season with the Blues, Krug is finding his niche role and returning value despite not skating on either powerplay unit. He has increased his shots on goal across the last three games and, as a result, enters Thursday’s home game against the Seattle Kraken with a five-game point streak. Two of his six goals have occurred during this streak, including four assists, all while he earns over 20 minutes average time on ice. It may not feel sexy, but the floor Krug offers, combined with the low salary, makes him a solid addition to DFS lineups on Thursday night.
Jon Gillies (G – NJ): $6,900
Jon Gillies is likely a name that you aren’t familiar with. The 27-year old reserve netminder is making his second start for the New Jersey Devils on Thursday after being traded from the Anaheim Ducks last month. While he failed to win the game and surrendered three goals on 22 shots, Gillies is super cheap and an enticing prospect due to the matchup he receives. The New York Islanders have only scored 64 goals through 28 games played this season, ten fewer than Arizona and Montreal. Their inability to score goals plays right into the decision to plug Gillies into lineups as your goaltender at a fraction of the average cost. Spend your money on blue-chip prospects that can yield a point or two and use the remainder on Gillies, who is severely undervalued and should prove successful against an offensively inept team like the Islanders on Thursday night.