NHL DraftKings and FanDuel DFS Primer: Saturday (4/9)
It’s another Saturday in the NHL, which means a whopping 12 games are scheduled on its slate. Only three weeks separate the end of the regular season and the beginning of playoff hockey. It’s an exciting time for hockey fans and DFS managers. Teams will continue using aggression to build a lead on offense while charging along the boards and within the defensive zone to deter opponents from scoring. Good teams have already begun to solidify their playoff seeding, while some of the worst teams in the league have already been eliminated from contention. Please don’t overlook a team that has been eliminated, as prospects on all four lines can offer hidden value, especially when playing spoiler to another team with playoff ambitions.
Thursday’s slate wound up pretty good in terms of how my recommended prospects fared by the night’s end. J.T. Miller (C – VAN) managed to get an assist without even attempting a shot on goal against Arizona. At the same time, Cole Caufield (LW – MTL) produced a multi-point finish, including a goal, for the Montreal Canadiens in a 7-4 rout of New Jersey. Artemi Panarin (LW – NYR) and Josh Norris (C – OTT) scored goals to return value, while both defensemen and goaltenders failed to generate enough production to yield any significant value. Nevertheless, the offensive assets came through in the clutch, so hopefully, you opted for any combination of Caufield, Panarin, Norris, or Miller during Thursday’s DFS contests.
As usual, I’ve narrowed down the prospects on Saturday’s slate to eight players who possess the skill, opportunity, and usage to be considered high-value assets in DFS lineups. So, without further ado, let’s get into it!
Recommended Plays: DraftKings
DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000
Auston Matthews (C – TOR): $9,600
All DFS managers have to prioritize adding Auston Matthews into DFS lineups at a certain point. He’s not a value in terms of his salary, as he’s the most expensive player on Saturday’s slate. However, the number of goals (56) and assists (41) the 24-year old star has produced in 66 games for Toronto this season has been astounding. Matthews leads the league in goals scored and has at least one in four of his previous five games. The game he held without a goal proved to be just as successful, as Matthews notched three assists on eight shots against the Florida Panthers in an overtime loss earlier in the week. The Maple Leafs are not in jeopardy of falling out of the playoffs, but they don’t want Florida, Boston, or Tampa Bay to finish ahead of them in the tightly-contested Atlantic Division. Expect Matthews to waste little time before lighting the lamp against Montreal’s goaltender Jake Allen (G – MTL), who has surrendered at least four goals in his previous three starts in the net. Matthews is on fire, and Allen is a liability, so take advantage of the matchup and roster the best skater in the league.
Patrik Laine (LW – CBJ): $6,600
Patrik Laine has cooled off considerably since mid-March, but he gets an excellent opportunity to yield production against Detroit goaltender Alex Nedeljokovic on Saturday. Laine has only one point, an assist, across his last five games, but he preserves his floor with high shot volume, totaling ten shots on goal across his previous two games. Laine’s point drought is not for lack of trying. Columbus is 2-5-3 in their past ten games, as the offense has stalled, scoring more than three goals just once in their past nine games. Laine is the best weapon on the Blue Jackets’ offense, and he finally gets a soft matchup against Nedeljkovic, who possesses a 3.31 GAA and is 1-2-1 in his past four starts. Laine does feel highly priced in terms of salary. However, it’s justified once the focus is placed on Detroit’s leaky goaltending. So swallow your pride and invest in Columbus’ top goal-scorer.
Morgan Rielly (D – TOR): $5,600
Toronto has all the talent necessary to make a deep run in the playoffs, including 28-year old defenseman Morgan Rielly. He has 51 assists for the Maple Leafs and is highly efficient within the offense. Skating on the first defensive line and top powerplay unit, Rielly sees over 23 minutes of average time on ice, giving him plenty of opportunities to yield production. While Rielly is 5:1 in terms of his assist to goal ratio, he’s scored twice in the past five games. He’s heating up at the right time, especially against a porous Montreal Canadiens defense, which has essentially been a turnstile, allowing their goaltenders to face upwards of 30 shots per game since mid-March. Grab Rielly at $5,600 on DraftKings and confidently plug him into lineups.
Jacob Markstrom (G – CGY): $8,200
Not much to analyze here. Jacob Markstrom is one of the league’s strongest netminders consistently, coming into Saturday’s matchup against Seattle with a 2.18 GAA and .924 save percentage. The Kraken have already been eliminated from the playoffs, and they fluctuate dramatically with their offensive production. They have only scored more than two goals once in their past five games, which is a great reason to invest in Markstrom on the road Saturday night. After all, Markstrom allowed only one goal on 23 shots against the Kraken back on February 19th. Markstrom has consecutive wins from earlier this week against similar opponents like Anaheim and Los Angeles, so don’t overthink plugging him into DFS lineups against a sub-par Seattle team.
Recommended Plays: FanDuel
FanDuel maximum salary is set at $55,000
Nick Suzuki (C – MTL): $6,200
Nick Suzuki is a reliable center to target in DFS, even against superior opponents like Toronto. The 22-year old first-line center has been far and away from the best offensive asset for Montreal this season, leading the team with 19 goals and 34 assists. Suzuki attempts two to three shots on goal per game and even racks up a blocked shot to bump his floor up. You’re rostering Suzuki for his ability to produce points, which he should be able to do against Maple Leafs’ goaltender Jack Campbell (G – TOR). Campbell did not make a start in net the last time these two teams met in March, where Suzuki finished with two assists on three shots. Since returning from injury, Campbell is 3-0-1 in his past four starts, but he has allowed at least three goals in three of these starts. I don’t expect Montreal to win, but Suzuki is a high-value asset to target when constructing DFS lineups.
Pavel Buchnevich (LW – STL): $6,200
Pavel Bunchnevich is riding a hot hand right now, racking up four goals and four assists across his previous five games. The 26-year old winger earns his minutes on St. Louis’ first-line attack and second powerplay unit, where he’s scored 25 goals and netted 34 assists for the Blues this season. His shot volume isn’t extremely high, but it’s satisfactory, hovering around two to six shots in most games. Buchnevich’s goals have come against quality opponents like Minnesota and Edmonton, so don’t sweat Saturday’s matchup against the New York Islanders. Semyon Varlamov (G – NYI) is projected to be their starting goaltender, and he’s played well. However, don’t let Varlamov’s presence force you off of Buchnevich, as he has a five-game point streak intact, entering Saturday’s home matchup against an inferior opponent.
Shea Theodore (D – VGK): $5,500
Vegas Golden Knights’ first-line defenseman, Shea Theodore, is a quality defenseman to target when constructing DFS lineups on Saturday. In three of his previous five games, Theodore has scored a goal and stacked a couple of blocked shots. He will not attempt more than two or three shots on goal, but Theodore has scored 30 assists and 11 goals this season. Theodore is one of the most reliable goal-scorers on any defensive line in the league, so against Arizona, it’s a no-brainer to plug him into lineups. Since a rocky March, Arizona netminder Karel Vejmelka (G – ARI) has played reasonably well, but he’s still vulnerable defending the crease. Vejmelka’s last start in net against Vegas was ugly, as he surrendered seven goals on 32 shots back in December. Theodore buried two assists on three shots during that game, so expect more of the same as Vegas continues surging up the Pacific Division leaderboard.
Thatcher Demko (G – VAN): $7,500
Vancouver is currently on the outside looking in for a playoff seed in the Pacific Division. Goaltender Thatcher Demko has been one of the Canucks’ best players all season, and he’s playing well as of late, holding teams to just one goal twice in his previous four starts in the net. On Saturday night, Demko will get a soft matchup against San Jose, who finds themselves on the wrong side of a five-game losing skid. The Sharks have only scored more than two goals once in their previous five games, while Demko has only surrendered four goals once since March 19th. Vancouver has the better personnel, so rostering Demko is a safe, high-upside investment during Saturday’s busy 12-game slate.