NHL DraftKings and FanDuel DFS Primer: Saturday (1/22)
The average hockey fan may be a bit underwhelmed with the games comprising Saturday’s nine-game slate in the National Hockey League. However, from a DFS manager context, these matchups are packed with juice and production. Numerous reserve goaltenders are getting the start in the net. At the same time, opponents like Washington, Colorado, Calgary, and the New York Rangers have the skill and depth to make it a lucrative night if you construct lineups wisely.
Thursday’s recommendations fared successful, with five of the eight players returning value via goal, assist, or shutout. Roope Hintz (C – DAL) racked up two points, including a goal and Chandler Stephenson (C – VGK) buried his 12th goal of the season to help earn a win for the Golden Knights. Both Pittsburgh Penguins Bryan Rust (RW – PIT) and Kris Letang (D – PIT) accounted for three assists during Pittsburgh’s 6-4 win over Ottawa. Finally, Sergei Bobrovsky (G – FLA) blanked the struggling Oilers in a 6-0 rout while racking up 40 saves. Overall, it was more than enough to boost your DFS lineups into the green if you opted to roster two or three of these prospects.
Without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at a few of my favorite players to target during Saturday’s NHL DFS slate.
Recommended Plays: DraftKings
DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000
Evgeny Kuznetsov (C – WAS): $5,800
Washington is no longer afforded the comfort of sitting atop the Metropolitan Division. Going 4-4-2 in their previous ten games, the Capitals need to erase the disappointing 4-3 loss to the Boston Bruins on Thursday. The man for the job is their 29-year old first-line center, Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov has at least one point in six straight games and scored his 13th goal of the season against the Bruins in their last game despite only taking one shot on goal. Kuznetsov offers a massive floor due to his ability to rack up assists consistently (27) and is an incredible value at under $6,000 on DraftKings. In addition, he earns additional minutes on the top powerplay unit and benefits from skating alongside Alex Ovechkin (LW – WAS), so this is a no-brainer.
Timo Meier (RW – SJ): $7,200
Coming off of a historic five-goal performance against the Los Angeles Kings, 25-year old Timo Meier has all the tools necessary to cash your DFS lineups. Meier is now in his sixth year in the league, all with San Jose, showing his comfort level and rate of development with the organization. He’s the point leader (46) for the Sharks and is tied for the most goals (21) alongside fellow linemate Tomas Hertl (C – SJ) while also leading the team in assists (25) through 36 games played. Meier will get a tough Tampa Bay Lightning team at home on Saturday night, but the Lightning plan to roll out reserve goaltender Brian Elliot instead of Andrei Vasilevskiy (G – TB). In five games this season, Elliot has a 2.78 GAA, going 3-2. The veteran netminder has not seen the ice since December when he surrendered three goals to the New York Rangers. However, Meier should quickly return value even at a $7,200 salary, as he has only one performance without a point in his last nine games. So plug him into lineups with confidence.
Cale Makar (D – COL): $7,500
In his third year with the Colorado Avalanche, Cale Makar is quickly ascending into the pantheon of great defensemen. The 23-year old has at least one assist in seven of his previous eight games and attempts anywhere from three to six shots on goal when skating in the offensive zone. Makar also earns additional minutes on the league’s most potent powerplay unit due to the talent of players like Mikko Rantanen (RW – COL), Nathan MacKinnon (C – COL), and Gabriel Landeskog (LW – COL). Makar likes to rack up a couple of hits and blocked shots in most games as well, raising his floor even higher. The cherry on top of his outlook for Saturday focuses on Montreal’s goaltender, Cayden Primeau (G – MTL). The 22-year old will make his fourth appearance for the Canadiens this season, having allowed at least three goals in every previous game he’s played in. Makar will make light work of Primeau and could wind up with a double-point outing when all is said and done. Pay up for Makar and reap the rewards.
Juuse Saros (G – NSH): $8,000
Nashville continues to hover near the top of a competitive Central Division thanks to the play of 26-year old goaltender Juuse Saros. He is 21-22-2 with a 2.42 GAA and an impressive .924 save percentage this season and ended a three-game losing slump with a solid outing against Winnipeg on Thursday. A goaltender who faces heavy shot volume and still salvages wins is always a prospect to target as the anchor in DFS lineups. Saros will face the Detroit Red Wings, a favorable matchup for most goaltenders across the league. The Red Wings can score, but their goaltending and defense are a massive liability. As long as Saros defends the crease well to start the game, he should have an easy victory path and return value in lineups.
Recommended Plays: FanDuel
FanDuel maximum salary is set at $55,000
Jack Hughes (C – NJ): $8,200
20-year old Jack Hughes is making a name for himself on a franchise that has been fighting an uphill battle to get back to relevancy. The New Jersey Devils drafted Hughes as the first overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, and he is quickly developing into the highly-touted prospect the franchise envisioned. Despite playing only 21 games this season, Hughes is third in total points (21) for the Devils and has nine goals, which is only one less than Jesper Bratt (RW – NJ), who currently leads the team in that metric. The Devils are still mired in their losing ways, dropping three straight, but Hughes has shown he can overcome adversity by producing goals and assists. Hughes should fare nicely against Carolina’s reserve netminder Antti Raanta (G – CAR). Raanta allowed three goals on nine shots in his last appearance against Columbus on January 1st. This means Hughes is in line to earn at least one point while attempting five shots on goal against a goaltender without much experience in net this season. Hughes is pricy, but his skill set and the matchup justify rostering him in DFS lineups.
Kirill Kaprizov (LW – MIN): $9,500
In his second year in the league, 24-year old Kirill Kaprizov is an absolute monster on the ice. He’s leading the Minnesota Wild in points (46), goals (16), and assists (30) through 35 games and is only five points away from matching his point total across 55 games from a year ago. Chicago is a plus-matchup already, but factoring in reserve goaltender Kevin Lankinen (G – CHI) makes it highly juicy. Lankinen has allowed at least three goals in his previous three starts. He allowed a goal in garbage time against the Wild in a 5-1 rout on Friday night. Kaprizov has two points in three straight games, and his familiarity entering the second game of the double-header means he should easily extend this streak at home on Saturday night. He’s expensive but safe due to his consistently high floor, so plug Kaprizov into lineups.
Rasmus Andersson (D – CGY): $4,700
After a hot start, Calgary is slipping down the Pacific Division standings, going 3-6-1 in their last ten games played. First-line defenseman Rasmus Andersson has 16 assists for Calgary through 35 games, ranking third-highest on the team. Of course, you aren’t rostering Andersson for his goal-scoring ability, but he did score his first goal of the season in his last game against Florida on Tuesday. In addition to ending a four-game point drought with the goal, Andersson gets extra minutes on Calgary’s top powerplay unit. Andersson and the Flames will face the struggling Edmonton Oilers on the road Saturday night, creating more incentive than usual for plugging Andersson into lineups. Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen (G – EDM) has been horrible lately, allowing ten goals across his last two starts in the net. Andersson has intriguing appeal due to his ability to manufacture assists, and maybe he can transfer the scoring momentum from Tuesday. At under $5,000, he won’t hurt your lineup.
Darcy Kuemper (G – COL): $8,600
31-year old goaltender Darcy Kuemper benefits from playing behind one of the league’s most talented and deep offensive units. The Colorado Avalanche are an absolute wagon at the moment, and Kuemper is playing well, allowing a total of two goals across his previous three starts. He rarely allows more than two or three goals in a game and has the offense to bail him out if he’s struggling. Montreal is no match for the elite-tier Avalanche, although their offense has become a bit stronger with Tyler Toffoli (LW – MTL) returning from a hand injury. Kuemper is worth the high salary because he’s defending the crease with ease and plays on the league’s second highest-scoring team (162 goals), making him a smash play in front of a home crowd against an inferior opponent on Saturday night.