NHL DraftKings and FanDuel DFS Primer: Thursday (1/27)
The National Hockey League has officially transitioned into the latter half of the 2022 season. This is the time when teams who have been mired with losing tendencies have a chance to reverse their fortune and mount a run at a playoff berth. This applies to teams like Arizona, Seattle, and Montreal, who are still mathematically alive but have a massive uphill battle to fight if they want to extend their season past early April. On the other hand, Pittsburgh, Colorado, and Dallas are enjoying huge winning streaks entering Thursday’s slate, so we’ll certainly take a look at a few players from these teams who offer value when constructing DFS lineups.
Ten games fill the slate on Thursday, and the oddsmakers have several matchups favored to hit over 6.5 total goals, which is one of the best ways to project how a team will perform regarding their offensive production. Games with odds favoring over 6.5 total goals include the New York Rangers at the Columbus Blue Jackets, Seattle at Pittsburgh, and Vegas at Florida. Conversely, matchups to potentially avoid due to lack of scoring feature Vancouver at Winnipeg, Anaheim at Montreal, and Los Angeles at the New York Islanders.
Let’s dive into Thursday’s player recommendations and conquer the slate!
Recommended Plays: DraftKings
DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000
Mika Zibanejad (C – NYR): $7,500
The Metropolitan Division is tight, but the New York Rangers reside in the top seed. Winners of their last two games, first-line center Mika Zibanejad is a significant contributor to their high-octane offense. He was held without a point in their previous game against the Los Angeles Kings, but he did rip four shots on goal to raise his floor. Before the goose egg, Zibanejad had an eight-game point streak, including a three-assist performance against Arizona last weekend. He earns extra minutes on the Rangers’ top powerplay unit and is one of only four players with at least 40 points on the team. Zibanejad gets a favorable matchup against Columbus reserve goaltender Joonas Korpisalo (G – CBJ) on Thursday. Korpisalo has allowed at least four goals in his previous two starts and has only earned one win in his past nine games played. Zibanejad should quickly bounce back with a point or two in Columbus on Thursday, so plug him into lineups with confidence.
Bryan Rust (RW – PIT): $7,400
Now in his eighth season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, first-line winger Bryan Rust showcases his adaptability alongside legendary veteran Sidney Crosby (C – PIT) and Jake Guentzel (LW – PIT). Rust has 27 points, which is fifth-most on the team through 42 games played, and his play since returning from a four-game absence has been superb. Three of Rust’s previous five games have generated two assists in each performance while also adding his tenth goal of the season against Arizona in their last game played. Seattle Kraken goaltender Philipp Grubauer (G – SEA) has not had a good season and has allowed at least three goals in his previous two starts, resulting in losses for the Kraken. Rust earns additional minutes on the top powerplay unit for the Pens and should add at least another point in a plus-matchup at home on Thursday. Pittsburgh has scored at least five goals in four of their last five games, resulting in wins. Rust is priced fairly and possesses a solid floor, making him a quality investment in DFS lineups.
Kris Letang (D – PIT): $7,500
This season, one of the league’s best defensemen can be found skating on Pittsburgh’s first defensive line. 34-year old veteran Kris Letang has been creating scoring plays for the Pens all season long, racking up a ridiculous 32 assists. He has also ended his scoring drought, scoring four of his five goals within the last two weeks. Letang is heavily involved in the offensive zone, attempting anywhere from two to nine shots on goal per game, and also has a nose for blocking shots. He’s priced high for a reason, and that’s because he is a walking point machine. Only two of his last 14 games played have ended without a point, making Letang the safest defenseman to roster due to the massive floor and ceiling he offers in DFS.
Igor Shesterkin (G – NYR): $8,400
Currently possessing the second-highest odds to win the prestigious Vezina Trophy, Igor Shesterkin allows the New York Rangers to make a legitimate title run this season. The 26-year old netminder recorded his most recent shutout against the San Jose Sharks on January 13th and has not allowed more than three goals in any of his previous five starts, resulting in a 5-0 record. The Columbus Blue Jackets are the youngest team in the league and have failed to score more than two goals in five consecutive games. This is a recipe for Shesterkin to dominate and potentially earn his fourth shutout of a career season. Pay up and acquire Shesterkin, who is a massive asset and will anchor your lineups with a bevy of points via saves and, ultimately, a win on the road in Columbus.
Recommended Plays: FanDuel
FanDuel maximum salary is set at $55,000
Sam Bennett (C – FLA): $7,100
This season, Sam Bennett has been a consistent goal-scorer on Florida’s second-line attack. Bennett, a 25-year old now in his second season with the Panthers, has scored seven goals across his previous six games. This began with a three-goal outing against the Dallas Stars on January 14th. Bennett has only one game without a goal during this streak when he was held without a shot on goal against Seattle. In his last game, he shelved one against Winnipeg, giving him the momentum necessary to overcome Robin Lehner (G – VGK) and the Vegas Golden Knights. Lehner just recorded a shutout against Washington and racked up 34 saves. However, he’s frequently allowed three to four goals in games this season. So expect the highly talented and efficient Florida offense to score often, with Bennett finding the back of the net for his 19th goal of the season at home ice on Thursday night.
Tyler Toffoli (RW – MTL): $5,900
Montreal is likely already preparing for the offseason, but that doesn’t mean Tyler Toffoli is ready to call it quits. The 29-year old first-line winger is adjusting from going to the Stanley Cup Finals last season to becoming a bottom feeder on a depleted Canadiens team. An 11-game absence from a hand injury hurt Montreal, and Toffoli has made his presence felt in the four games since his return, racking up two goals and two assists. He attempts three to four shots on goal in every outing and gets Anaheim’s reserve goaltender Anthony Stolarz (G – ANA) at home on Thursday night. Stolarz allowed six goals against Minnesota before being pulled in his last start while also surrendering three goals in his two starts before the meltdown performance against the Wild. He has managed to sustain a few good games, but Toffoli’s talent is too much for Stolarz to handle. At under $6,000 on FanDuel, Toffoli is a great value and should be inserted into most DFS lineups.
Mattias Ekholm (D – NSH): $4,600
31-year old defenseman Mattias Ekholm is heating up on Nashville’s second defensive line. Ekholm has a goal and an assist across his previous two games, which is impressive considering he only attempts one or two shots on goal in most contests. Ekholm does make up for his lack of shots with a willingness and ability to dive in front of opposing shots in the defensive zone, elevating his floor a bit. He gets extra minutes on the second powerplay unit and is heating up at the right time ahead of a road matchup against the spiraling Edmonton Oilers. Mikko Koskinen (G – EDM) has improved his play in the Oilers’ last two games, but he has been inconsistent for the club all season. Even during wins, he allows two or three goals, so Ekholm has intriguing appeal with his momentum entering Thursday night. At under $5,000, Ekholm is a viable salary saver that won’t hurt your lineups.
Juuse Saros (G – NSH): $7,800
26-year old goaltender Juuse Saros has played his way into the 11th-highest odds for the Vezina Trophy halfway through the 2022 NHL season. Saros has not allowed more than two goals in three straight starts and faces Edmonton on Thursday night. The Oilers have scored eight goals in their previous two games, leading to a two-game win streak, so Saros will need to bring his A-game defending the crease on the road. Since he has been playing so well, albeit against less than stellar opponents, Edmonton is also coming off of wins over mediocre teams like Vancouver and Calgary. Nashville is battling for the top seed in the Central Division with Colorado, Minnesota, and St. Louis, so there is plenty for Saros to get up and play for. He is undervalued at $7,800, so hop on one of the league’s hottest goaltenders, who can shut down Connor McDavid (C – EDM) and Leon Draisaitl (C – EDM).