NHL DraftKings and FanDuel DFS Primer: Thursday (4/14)
The NHL will dish out an enormous slate for fans and DFS managers on Thursday as the regular season winds down. After only three games were played on Wednesday, Thursday’s slate offers 12 games, increasing the number of DFS prospects to target fourfold. Light slates and busy slates have pros and cons. I tend to favor the heavier slates due to the cheaper salaries designated for some of the league’s top talent. Goals have been scored at a dizzying rate in April, as the three teams who won on Wednesday scored at least four goals, including Colorado racking up nine goals in a 9-3 rout of Los Angeles. With 24 teams playing on Thursday night, DFS managers will need to secure at least two high-performing players to build a foundation and maintain striking distance regarding cashing out.
Tuesday’s recommended players fell short of expectations. Jonathan Huberdeau (LW – FLA) and Morgan Rielly (D – TOR) were the best out of the six skaters. Huberdeau scored the overtime goal to lead Florida to a 3-2 victory over Anaheim while attempting 10 shots on goal. Rielly notched two assists with three shots on goal and an additional three blocked shots, returning great value for a cheap defenseman. Thatcher Demko (G – VAN) also provided a highlight-reel performance with 41 saves during a huge overtime win against Vegas to keep Vancouver’s playoff hopes alive. Unfortunately, all others, including Auston Matthews (C – TOR), fell short of returning value at their price point. Still, if you were able to roster two or perhaps all three of the top-recommended performers on Tuesday, your lineup should have resided in the green by the end of the night.
After much deliberation, I’ve narrowed down Thursday’s slate to eight high-value players who will be assets in all DFS contests and lineups. Here we go!
Recommended Plays: DraftKings
DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000
J.T. Miller (C – VAN): $7,500
Vancouver is one of the few teams in the league that have an opportunity to secure a late-season playoff berth. Their overtime win over Vegas on Tuesday was massive, and J.T. Miller will continue to be a pivotal piece of the Canucks’ offense moving forward. The 29-year-old now skates on their second-line attack but retained his spot on Vancouver’s top powerplay unit, so he should have several chances to net a point against arguably the worst team in the league on Thursday night. Arizona goaltender Karel Vejmelka (G – ARI) has surrendered six goals in his previous starts against New Jersey and Vegas earlier in the week. Miller has at least one point in four of his past five games and attempts two to five shots on goal per game while earning over 22 minutes of average time on ice. He’s scored 29 goals, second-highest on the Canucks, and leads them in assists (57) and total points (86), so it’s a no-brainer to plug him in against an inferior opponent and a struggling netminder at home on Thursday night.
Pavel Buchnevich (LW – STL): $6,000
26-year-old Pavel Buchnevich has a robust seven-game point-streak intact entering Thursday’s road game in Buffalo. Lately, the Sabres have been surprising teams, but their veteran goaltender, Craig Anderson (G – BUF), defines streaky. The 40-year-old goaltender held Toronto to two goals en route to a 4-2 win on Tuesday right after surrendering five goals to Tampa Bay and four goals in another loss to Carolina. The Blues are a playoff-bound team with talent on all four lines, including the usage of Buchnevich. He’s fourth in total points (62) and second in goals scored (25), scoring twice in his past five games. Buchnevich is a fantastic value due to his involvement and efficiency within the Blues’ offense, earning additional minutes on the second powerplay unit. He’s not a high-volume shooter, but he’s reliable and capable of netting a point. At $6,000 on DraftKings, Buchnevich is worth the price of admission.
Kevin Shattenkirk (D – ANA): $4,400
There are two approaches to take when it comes to rostering defensemen in DFS. Either pay up for an assist machine, such as Roman Josi (D – NAS) or Cale Makar (D – COL) or save a lot of your salary and invest in a floor player. I prefer the latter. This is why Anaheim’s first-line defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk has such strong appeal. He’s only netted one point via assist across his previous five games, but he’s a high-volume shooter, attempting two to five shots on goal. The most significant incentive behind rostering Shattenkirk is the number of blocked shots he tends to rack up. On Tuesday, he finished with six against Florida during the Ducks’ 3-2 overtime loss and racked up four against Calgary last week. With blocked shots equaling 1.3 DK points versus 1.5 DK points for a shot on goal, you’re investing in a high floor without paying up. After all, Andrei Vasilevskiy (G – TB) surrendered four goals in their last matchup, where Shattenkirk scored one of his eight goals this season. Plug Shattenkirk into lineups as a salary-saver on the road against Andrei Vasilevskiy and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Nico Daws (G – NJ): $6,800
Surprisingly, Nico Daws has been defending the crease with success for New Jersey across their previous two games, surrendering a total of three goals and leading the Devils to consecutive wins. The 21-year-old netminder will try to keep the momentum rolling against a Colorado Avalanche team who just played on Wednesday during a 9-3 rout of Los Angeles. It’s an absolute risk to invest in Daws against such a superior opponent. However, his momentum and confidence are high, and the Avs will have tired legs and have little to play for with the top playoff seed secured. Daws will save a ton of money and allow you to allocate your funds to other blue-chip players. He also may defy the odds and wind up with a win, or at the very least, a couple of dozen saves to pad the points in DFS lineups.
Recommended Plays: FanDuel
FanDuel maximum salary is set at $55,000
Josh Norris (C – OTT): $7,000
Ottawa may have found something with their 22-year-old first-line center, Josh Norris. He’s now in his third season with the Senators and has nearly double the number of goals as he does assists, which is a rare statistic to find. Norris has two goals and four assists across his previous five games and is a high-volume shooter, attempting two to five shots in most matchups. He has two multi-point finishes during this five-game stretch, so he’s equipped with a high ceiling. Boston is the superior team in this matchup on Thursday. Still, Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman (G – BOS) has been vulnerable in April, surrendering at least four goals in three of his previous four starts in the net. This paints a perfect opportunity for Norris to lead the +235 Senators to a potential victory on the road in Boston against a struggling netminder Thursday night. He’s priced appropriately at $7,000 on FanDuel, so plug Norris into lineups due to his hot hand and high usage.
Timo Meier (LW – SJ): $8,800
Paying up for a piece of San Jose’s offense feels disingenuous and wrong. However, I’m here to tell you that rostering Timo Meier will only be a net gain once Thursday’s slate concludes. The 25-year-old earns roughly 19 minutes of average time on ice during the past five games, where he’s netted three assists. Meier’s true appeal lies in the number of shots on goal, as he’s attempted five to nine shots in three games since April 2nd. Meier also racked up four blocked shots in his last game against Nashville, making up for the three shots on goal and lack of points from assists or goals scored. He will get a much softer matchup against Chicago goaltender Kevin Lankinen (G – CHI) at home on Thursday night, as Lankinen allowed Dallas to bury five goals on just 20 shots on Sunday. Meier has not scored a goal since March 31st against Colorado, so expect his goal drought to end against a struggling netminder. Even if it continues, Meier will attempt enough shots on goal to raise his floor while inevitably adding an assist before it’s all said and done.
Ryan Pulock (D – NYI): $4,500
I’m sticking with the cheap, high-floor defensemen approach once again. New York Islanders’ second-line defenseman, Ryan Pulock, provides all the necessary floor to return value without damaging DFS lineups. Yes, he’s cheap because he’s riding a five-game point drought. However, the 27-year-old defenseman attempts four to five shots on goal and racks up two to four blocked shots. This is the floor to chase when rostering defensemen, especially when it’s against Pittsburgh, a team forcing Tristan Jarry (G – PIT) to defend 30-plus shots in most games. Pulock is a solid investment and should have an excellent opportunity to end his point-drought while collecting DFS points via shots and blocked shots all night long.
Mike Smith (G – EDM): $7,600
One of the league’s hottest goaltenders is Edmonton’s, Mike Smith. In April, the 40-year-old veteran has led the Oilers to four consecutive wins as a starter, surrendering a combined four goals across his last three starts. He’s also facing 32 shots per game during this stretch, which is good, assuming Smith can continue defending the crease with the same ability he’s displayed recently. This season, Nashville has been good, but they have not been able to manufacture offense at the same rate in April, scoring four goals across their last three games combined. So Smith is trending up, while the Predators’ offense is trending down. As a result, it’s the perfect opportunity to invest in Smith, who is available to roster at a cheap, $7,600 salary on FanDuel.