NHL DraftKings and FanDuel DFS Primer: Thursday (4/21)
The final days of the regular NHL season are upon us. Next week, the playoff picture will be formed, leaving half of the league with the opportunity to raise Lord Stanley’s Cup in June. The challenge on Thursday’s 11-game slate stems from the number of reserves earning additional minutes on teams that have either been eliminated or secured a playoff seed. From a DFS perspective, this creates challenges, as a player who usually plays on the second or third-line attack will start skating on the first-line attack, earning additional chances to score a point. Fortunately, many netminders will also be reserves with plenty of rest, meaning opposing offenses should have a field day lighting up the lamp.
Tuesday’s slate certainly had some hits, with Steven Stamkos (C – TB) netting three assists to climb the DFS point leaderboard. Kirill Kaprizov (LW – MIN) managed an assist, along with Mark Giordano (D – TOR) and Matthew Tkachuk (RW – CGY). Robert Thomas (C – STL) was the lone goal-scorer of the group, while Vladislav Gavrikov (D – CBJ) was the biggest bust. Jack Campbell (G – TOR) was impressive in the net, stacking 37 saves and allowing only two goals during a 5-2 rout. At the same time, Jaroslav Halak (G – VAN) ended up being inserted into the net after Thatcher Demko (G – VAN) surrendered three goals, limiting Halak’s upside. Overall, it was a productive slate with several assists and many points generated.
I’ve combed through the starters ahead of Thursday’s 11-game slate and have narrowed them down to the top eight prospects. Target a few of these players to construct a solid foundation to put you ahead in numerous DFS contests!
Recommended Plays: DraftKings
DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000
Aleksander Barkov (C – FLA): $8,300
It may be the obvious choice, but Aleksander Barkov is red-hot coming off a hat-trick outing against the New York Islanders. The 26-year-old skates on Florida’s first-line attack and top powerplay unit, leading the team with 37 goals. He’s generated five points across his last two games against bad goaltending and will again get a soft matchup against Detroit netminder Alex Nedeljkovic (G – DET). He previously surrendered six goals to the Panthers last weekend, where Barkov buried two assists with two shots on goal. So pay up to acquire one of the best players on Thursday’s slate as a massive -650 Moneyline favorite at home against the Red Wings.
Pavel Buchnevich (LW – STL): $6,000
Pavel Buchnevich is the definition of consistency. Skating on St. Louis’ first-line attack and second powerplay unit, the 27-year-old winger has four multi-point finishes in his past five games. Keep in mind that these high-ceiling performances have occurred against talented teams like Minnesota and Boston. Buchnevich will get a softer matchup against San Jose’s James Reimer (G – SJ), who has surrendered four or more goals in back-to-back starts for the Sharks. In November, Reimer previously ceded four goals to the Blues when Buchnevich scored a goal on four shots. Expect more of the same from the talented winger on Thursday, making his $6,000 salary on DraftKings a value.
Noah Dobson (D – NYI): $5,500
Noah Dobson won’t always net an assist, but he’s got 32 thus far and manages to stack blocked shots. The 22-year-old earns around 20 to 22 minutes of average time on ice per game and has been attempting two to three shots on goal, so he’s a well-rounded second-line defenseman for the Islanders. Earning minutes on the top powerplay unit also helps, so he’s been able to rack up assists against teams like Florida and Pittsburgh in his past five games. Next, he will stay in New York City and face the Rangers’ reserve netminder, Alexandar Georgiev (G – NYR), who just recorded his second shutout of the season against Philadelphia a week ago. He’s previously surrendered four goals to teams like Detroit and Buffalo, so he’s a volatile goaltender who Dobson can yield a point out during Thursday’s tilt. Plug Dobson into lineups as a solid defensive prospect at $5,500 on DraftKings.
Sergei Bobrovsky (G – FLA): $8,600
It’s a slate where you want to pay for a reliable goaltender. Sergei Bobrovsky has not allowed more than two goals in his previous three starts for the Florida Panthers, and they will face a lackluster Detroit Red Wings team on Thursday night. The Red Wings have only scored more than one goal just once in their last three games, while Bobrovsky is rounding into playoff form. Of course, he’s expensive, but he previously surrendered only two goals and stacked 23 saves in a 6-2 win over Detroit on March 5th, so pay up for Bobrovsky in DraftKings lineups.
Recommended Plays: FanDuel
FanDuel maximum salary is set at $55,000
Sidney Crosby (C – PIT): $8,700
On Thursday night, the leader and superstar for Pittsburgh, first-line center Sidney Crosby, is an excellent DFS investment against a quality Boston Bruins team. Crosby was held without a point in the first game against Boston back on Saturday, but he will get a chance to avenge his dud against Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman (G – BOS). The 23-year-old goaltender stifled the Pens to only one goal on 24 shots during a 2-1 win; however, he’s also allowed four to six goals against teams like Detroit and Toronto. So he can be volatile and inconsistent defending the crease, which means Crosby should return to the point column to notch his 81st point of the season against Boston on Thursday night. While also racking up a couple of blocked shots per game, his high shot volume creates a high floor when rostering the veteran star in FanDuel lineups. Crosby is the third most expensive center on FanDuel. Still, he’s worth the salary, especially with four days of rest compared to only one for Boston after an emotional overtime win.
Ondrej Palat (LW – TB): $4,300
Are you looking for a cheap player with upside baked in? 31-year-old Ondrej Palat is the prospect who encompasses a salary-saver skating on the second-line attack on arguably one of the hottest teams in the league. Tampa Bay is cruising towards their third Stanley Cup in a row, and Palat has been contributing when possible, generating assists in back-to-back games for the Lightning against Winnipeg and Detroit. Toronto has much better personnel, but Palat has the opportunity and usage on the second powerplay unit and second-line attack to get good looks on the net. Plus, Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell has been allowing two to four goals per game since the beginning of the month, so he’s not an air-tight defender of the crease, per se. So save your salary and invest in Palat for an assist in one of the slate’s more exciting matchups.
Ivan Provorov (D – PHI): $4,800
Philadelphia does not have a lot of juice on their current roster. First-line defenseman Ivan Provorov does hold appeal, though, especially at under $5,000 on FanDuel. The 25-year-old has just one point in his last five games, so he’s very cheap. However, you’re rostering Provorov based on his usage within both zones, as he has at least three blocked shots in each of his previous three games. Provorov took six shots on goal against Toronto on Tuesday, which is encouraging as the Flyers prepare for Montreal. The Canadiens have a porous defense, meaning Provorov should be able to stack shots on goal against Carey Price (G – MTL), who has been a massive upgrade from Samuel Montembeault. Provorov is a salary-saver with high usage, and he’s not afraid to be gritty, so he’s an asset against an equally lousy team on Thursday night.
Jonathan Quick (G – LAK): $7,700
Veteran goaltender Jonathan Quick has been excellent in the net for Los Angeles in April, winning three starts in a row heading into Thursday’s tilt against Chicago. Quick has allowed just one goal apiece in consecutive starts and will look to extend this streak against a Blackhawks offense that either shows up to compete or fall’s flat on their face. Quick just held the Blackhawks to two goals on 20 shots on April 12th, so expect an easy path to victory for Quick and a couple of dozen fantasy points to flood your FanDuel lineup after Thursday’s latest puck drop. He’s the most affordable goaltender and is playing with confidence against a bad team, so there is little to hesitate about when it comes to rostering Quick.