NHL DraftKings and FanDuel DFS Primer: Thursday (2/24)
Eight games round out Thursday’s NHL slate, with Minnesota at Toronto serving as the marquee headliner of the night. Several other intriguing matchups include a red-hot Calgary team traveling to face an underrated unit in Vancouver and the New York Rangers hosting arguably the healthiest version of the Washington Capitals. Columbus at Florida is the only game on the slate with its total goals set at seven, although oddsmakers favor the under. Other games that expect to be high-scoring, meaning at least six goals scored, are Minnesota at Toronto and New Jersey at Pittsburgh. The majority of games on Thursday’s slate could very well wind up being low-scoring, defensive battles, which is excellent for goaltending in DFS.
My recommendations from Tuesday’s slate did not pop as much as expected, with Vladimir Tarasenko (RW – STL) and Robert Thomas (C – STL) connecting for a score that put both players in the point column. The only noteworthy performance came from Ilya Sorokin (G – NYI), who finished with 23 saves and only two goals allowed in a 5-2 rout of the Seattle Kraken. Unfortunately, the other five prospects could not earn a win or generate a point, resulting in unusually light production across the board.
After doing a deep-dive on Thursday’s slate, I expect the following players to return enough value to construct winning lineups and erase the sting of any potential losses from Tuesday. Here we go!
Recommended Plays: DraftKings
DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000
Brock Nelson (C – NYI): $4,500
Players for the New York Islanders may not be discounted for much longer in DFS. The Islanders have won two of their previous three games, scoring nine goals between the two victories. This is an encouraging sign for an offense that has shown minimal signs of life. Second-line center Brock Nelson has been integral within the attack, scoring a goal in three consecutive games entering Thursday’s road contest against San Jose. The 30-year old also earns additional minutes on the top powerplay unit, affording him a plus-man advantage. The Sharks have been mired in losing, dropping seven straight, and will continue to deploy James Reimer (G – SJ) in the net. Reimer has allowed at least three goals in his previous five starts. Conversely, Nelson has a goal in three straight games and is second in total points (27) for the Isles this season. He also has scored the most goals (18) for the team, and he’s riding a hot hand entering a plus-matchup. Available to roster at under $5,000, Nelson is dripping with value and should be prioritized in DFS lineups.
Jake Guentzel (LW – PIT): $7,600
Pittsburgh has dropped two in a row, but they still have 70 points and occupy the second seed in the Metropolitan Division. All season, their primary weapon on offense has been 27-year old winger Jake Guentzel, who is the only player on the Penguins with at least 20 goals. Guentzel is not just a goal-scorer. He has 27 assists while earning additional minutes on the top powerplay unit. Guentzel has six goals and nine assists on the Pens’ powerplay this season, meaning he is consistently effective on a unit loaded with talents like Sidney Crosby (C – PIT), Kris Letang (D – PIT), and Evgeni Malkin (C – PIT). Guentzel will face a familiar opponent in the net on Thursday, as the New Jersey Devils will deploy Jon Gillies (G – NJ) to defend the crease. Guentzel scored a goal on three shots against Gillies in a 4-2 win back on February 13th, so expect similar production once again. Guentzel is expensive but worth the price, as he leads one of the most potent first-line attacks in the league.
Jared Spurgeon (D – MIN): $4,700
Jared Spurgeon has spent all 12 seasons of his career with the Minnesota Wild and is on pace to potentially secure a career-high in terms of points by the end of the regular season. Spurgeon’s career-high was set back in 2019 at 43 points, relying on 14 goals and 29 assists to reach this mark. Currently, Spurgeon has five goals and 15 assists, scoring in his previous matchup against Ottawa after taking three shots on goal. When rostering a defenseman in DFS, make sure they typically get a couple of blocked shots to ensure they deliver a decent floor. Spurgeon has only one game without a point across his last five and will face Jack Campbell (G – TOR) in the net on Thursday. In his previous couple of starts, Campbell has been getting eviscerated, allowing four goals in a loss to Columbus and five goals in another loss to St. Louis. His confidence is missing from earlier in the season, meaning Spurgeon has ample opportunity to extend his point streak at a significantly discounted value. Take advantage and plug him into lineups.
Ilya Sorokin (G – NYI): $7,300
Somehow, DraftKings continues to undervalue the performance of Ilya Sorokin. The 26-year old netminder is 2-0-1 in his previous three starts, allowing a combined total of just five goals during this streak. However, he’s improving and benefits from facing a sub-par offense like the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night. Yes, it’s a road game, but Sorokin was strong defending the crease up in Seattle on Tuesday. The Sharks have lost seven straight and have scored two or fewer goals in four of these matchups. Sorokin will only become more potent as the Islanders’ offense is heating up. The Sharks’ lack of offense and Sorokin’s improved play across his last three starts make him an immense goaltender value on the entire slate.
Recommended Plays: FanDuel
FanDuel maximum salary is set a $55,000
Anton Lundell (C – FLA): $6,000
Despite being buried on a deep Florida Panthers depth chart, Rookie Anton Lundell has been a considerable asset. The 20-year old centers the third-line attack and earns additional minutes on the second powerplay unit, allowing him to earn roughly 16 minutes average time on ice in most contests. The rookie usually does not stray above three shots on goal, but he did have a career night against Elvis Merzlikins (G – CBJ) back on January 31st, finishing with a plus-six rating after pouring in five assists. This occurred while he only attempted one shot on goal, so don’t let this metric move you off the talented rookie. Lundell has three points from his last three games and is known for adding the occasional blocked shot to his stat line. Oddsmakers set the total goals scored at seven, implying that goals will be flying in abundance all night long in south Florida. Pay up to acquire Lundell, as he’s a highly talented center in a plus-matchup who went berserk in his last matchup against Merzlikins.
Patrik Laine (LW – CBJ): $7,000
Sticking with the Columbus Blue Jackets at Florida Panthers, I have to steer DFS managers towards Patrik Laine. The 23-year old skates on the first-line attack and top powerplay unit, but he’s become a different player since the end of January, stacking multi-point games and keeping the Blue Jackets in the win column against superior opponents. Laine scored a pair of goals against Sergei Bobrovsky (G – FLA) the last time the two faced off on January 31st, with the game ending in an 8-4 win for the Panthers. Laine has five goals and two assists across his last three games, attempting at least four shots on goal during each contest. He’s on fire and has a ton of momentum. Bobrovsky looked bad against Nashville in a 6-4 loss on Tuesday, allowing five goals on 32 shots, so Laine should be able to get at least one point to extend Columbus’ winning streak to four games against their former goaltender. So pay up and acquire one of the hottest players in the league right now.
Zdeno Chara (D – NYI): $4,100
Veteran defenseman Zdeno Chara is likely still synonymous with the Boston Bruins. The 44-year old big-bodied player is still earning significant playing time, skating over 18 minutes average time on ice in most matchups. Chara only has eight assists this season, but he has three in his last four games, entering Thursday’s road contest in San Jose. Chara uses his 6’9″ frame to bully opposing players on the boards and in open ice while racking up at least two blocked shots in most games. The Isles have begun to heat up offensively, which is the main reason for Chara’s recent surge in assist production. You won’t find many prospects cheaper than Chara. However, he still earns enough time on the second defensive line to warrant rostering, particularly against the Sharks, who struggle to stop opposing offenses. Cash in on the value Chara holds and save your money for another center or winger with a higher upside instead of spending it on other overvalued defensemen.
Jacob Markstrom (G – CGY): $7,800
Calgary has won ten straight games, and goaltender Jacob Markstrom is a massive reason for this streak reaching double-digits. The 32-year old netminder is having a career season and is reviving his chances of winning the Vezina Trophy as of late, as he is 7-0 in his last seven starts. Markstrom has not surrendered more than two goals in any of these games, which is why the Flames have been able to bury teams with a potent offensive attack. Vancouver has been playing well entering Thursday’s game, but Markstrom is on a different level now. Somehow, he is available to roster well under the expected $8,000-plus salary, making him a must-add value piece in DFS lineups ahead of the 10 pm ET puck drop.