NHL DraftKings and FanDuel DFS Primer: Thursday (3/3)
Thursday in the National Hockey League means yet another juicy nine-game slate for fans to consume. Even with only four games filling Wednesday’s schedule, every matchup hit six total goals or higher. This feeds into the narrative I’ve been speaking on regarding a notable increase with goal-scoring dominating the 2022 NHL season. There has been outstanding goaltending, but the number of goals being scored in each game has sustained a frantic pace. This is both good news and bad news for DFS managers. The bad news is that you’ll likely need three or four high-performing prospects to cash a lineup on a big slate. The good news is that there are so many undervalued players due to the volume of games being played, creating bountiful opportunities to construct multiple winning lineups.
Tuesday’s recommended prospects delivered lineup-winning production all around. Jack Hughes (C – NJ), Mikhail Sergachev (D – TB), and Andrew Mangiapane (LW – CGY) all netted goals, while Neal Pionk (D – WPG) chipped in an assist during Winnipeg’s 8-4 rout of Montreal. Cam Atkinson (RW – PHI) and Jack Eichel (C – VGK) didn’t find the point column, but each took at least four shots on goal and racked up a few blocked shots to raise their floor. Goaltending was the sore spot, as Nico Daws (G – NJ) suffered his second loss of the season against Columbus and Frederik Andersen (G – CAR) wound up getting the night off in favor of Antii Raanta. Nevertheless, five of six skaters scored at least one point, while Mangiapane was able to add an assist on top of his goal.
There’s a lot of talent on Thursday’s slate, but three games have the betting favorite at -400 on the Moneyline. These games present great value opportunities on both sides. I’ve managed to narrow the slate down to eight players with that in mind. Let’s dive in!
Recommended Plays: DraftKings
DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000
J.T. Miller (C – VAN): $6,000
Any time you can find a team’s top point-scorer available to add under $7,000 on DraftKings, you’ve got to pounce on the value. J.T. Miller leads Vancouver with 60 points, scoring 20 goals and notching a ridiculous 40 assists through 53 games. The 28-year old is now in his third year with the Canucks and skates on the first-line attack and top powerplay unit, earning roughly 20 minutes average time on ice. Miller’s shot volume varies, but he has a seven-game point streak intact entering Thursday’s road contest against the New York Islanders. Ilya Sorokin (G – NYI) is one of the most underrated goaltenders in the league, but he did surrender four goals to Colorado on Tuesday. Nevertheless, Miller is a massive value and is equipped with a high ceiling, so plug him into lineups with confidence.
Mikko Rantanen (RW – COL): $6,900
A former top-ten pick by Colorado in the 2015 draft, Mikko Rantanen has been delivering points all season for the Avalanche. The 25-year old is second on the team in total points (65), including scoring the second-highest number of goals (26), but he’s recently traded in goals for assists. Rantanen skates on both the first-line attack and top powerplay unit, earning over 20 minutes average time on ice. He was held without a point against the Islanders for the first time in six games on Tuesday, so expect Rantanen to return to the point column via assist or goal. Either way, he’s a value going up against Arizona goaltender Karel Vejmelka (G – ARI), who has surrendered at least four goals in his previous two starts. Rantanen took eight shots on goal and scored once against Vejmelka on February 1st, making him one of the cheaper blue-chip prospects available to roster on Thursday’s slate.
Brady Skjei (D – CAR): $3,800
27-year old Brady Skjei has been piecing together good production as of late, earning an assist in three of his previous five games played. Despite not skating on either powerplay unit, Skjei earns over 21 minutes average time on ice, which allows him to stay involved within the second-line attack. He attempts two to three shots on goal per game and usually finishes with a couple of blocked shots to raise his floor. Carolina will face Washington and their starting goaltender Ilya Samsonov (G – WAS), returning from an undisclosed injury. Samsonov allowed three goals in just one period during a 5-3 loss to Toronto before being pulled for the injury on Monday, so Skjei and the Hurricanes could feast in the offensive zone all night long. At a meager $3,800, Skjei is a great salary-saving option who can pop for an assist to deliver his ceiling.
Robin Lehner (G – VGK): $7,700
Robin Lehner has experienced a volatile year defending the crease, but he’s coming off a strong performance in a 3-1 win against San Jose on Tuesday. It was his first action since February 9th, as he missed five games with an upper-body injury. Whether it was the rest or the lack of offensive firepower from the Sharks, Lehner was sharp, facing only 17 shots and finishing with 16 saves. He’ll face a Boston Bruins team that just saw their five-game winning streak snapped against Anaheim, so expect a tense, action-packed game in Vegas on Thursday night. The Bruins managed to win three of their games during the previous streak by scoring only three goals, so Lehner benefits from their inconsistent production in the offensive zone. He’s an immense value at $7,200, so invest in the well-rested goaltender at home against a volatile offensive unit like Boston.
Recommended Plays: FanDuel
FanDuel maximum salary is set at $60,000
Brayden Point (C – TB): $8,200
In the search for consistent point-scorers, look no further than Brayden Point. The 25-year old centers Tampa Bay’s first-line attack and uses his elite talent while benefitting from personnel such as Nikita Kucherov (RW – TB) and Ondrej Palat (LW – TB). Point has a seven-game point streak intact entering Thursday’s home game against Pittsburgh goaltender Tristan Jarry (G – PIT). He did record his fourth shutout of the season, but he is inconsistent and volatile defending the crease. Before the shutout against the New York Rangers last weekend, Jarry had allowed 13 goals across his previous three starts, resulting in an 0-3 record. In October, Tampa Bay beat Pittsburgh 5-1, where Point netted a goal on three shots. He’s expensive, but he’s got massive momentum behind his point streak, including a four-point outing against Ottawa on Tuesday. This is the type of production to seek out and pay for no matter the price, so don’t hesitate to plug Point into lineups.
Tyler Toffoli (RW – CGY): $5,800
It’s been a seamless transition onto one of the league’s best teams for Tyler Toffoli. Traded from the lowly Montreal Canadiens two weeks ago, the 29-year old is now earning minutes on the Flames’ third-line attack and first-line powerplay unit. Since the trade, Toffoli has scored five goals and netted two assists for Calgary, making his presence felt. It’s quite a deep unit, but Toffoli is too talented to ignore, especially in a revenge game against his former team. The Canadiens have opted to replace Samuel Montembeault with 34-year old journeyman Andrew Hammond (G – MTL), who has been good in two starts for the Canadiens this season, allowing only three total goals and yielding a 2-0 record. Despite the strong showing, Hammond is no match for Calgary, and the extra motivation Toffoli possesses heading into Thursday’s game. He’s a fantastic value at under $6,000 on FanDuel, so invest in Toffoli’s high-ceiling, as he is on fire with two consecutive multi-point games.
Jakob Chychrun (D – ARI): $5,300
Yes, even the Arizona Coyotes have value prospects skating on their depth chart. Third-line defenseman Jakob Chychrun is talented enough to earn minutes on the Coyotes’ second powerplay unit, affording him additional opportunities to rack up DFS points via shots, blocked shots, and assists. Chychrun scored just his third goal of the season against Winnipeg last weekend, ending a massive goal drought. He also has three assists in his previous two games while steadily chipping in two blocked shots to raise his floor. Darcy Kuemper (G – COL) is a solid goaltender, but he allowed two goals in their previous matchup on February 1st, where Chychrun netted an assist. Despite Arizona being a massive underdog against arguably the best team in the Western Conference, he’s a good investment.
Thatcher Demko (G – VAN): $7,200
Vancouver has been fortunate to roster one of the better goaltenders in the league this season, as Thatcher Demko has a 2.59 GAA and 23 wins as a starter. The 26-year old has been tightening his defense of the crease, allowing two or fewer goals in three straight starts. This creates massive appeal but one more aspect to focus on is the New York Islanders’ lack of offense, which has stepped up its effort but only scored above three goals once in its last four games played. Demko played only 43 minutes against the Islanders, allowing only one goal while facing 15 shots. He’s a fantastic value and faces a lower-tier offense, so invest in Demko and reap the benefits.