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NHL DraftKings and FanDuel DFS Primer: Thursday (4/28)

by Matthew MacKay | @Matt_MacKay_ | Featured Writer
Apr 28, 2022
Nikita Kucherov

After seven months of fantastic play, this will be the final DFS Primer for the 2022 NHL season. It’s been a remarkable year, with Auston Matthews (C – TOR) joining the 60-goal club, Connor McDavid (C – EDM) leading the league again with 122 points, and Igor Shesterkin (G – NYR) recording a 2.07 Goals Against Average (GAA) with a blistering .935 save percentage. The parity and usage of players on all 32 franchises allowed DFS lineups to pop in variations and combinations. For example, third-line wingers would account for a pair of goals and return 7x value in a seemingly terrible matchup. At the same time, prolific talents would get held without a point against an inferior opponent.

Consistency is the fleeting statistic to chase when entering NHL DFS contests. Paying up for top players is warranted in certain circumstances, even when it feels too much. Conversely, avoiding paying a hefty sum for a couple of star players often winds up with a mediocre lineup that fails to produce enough points to climb the leaderboards. Balancing star players with high-value players who possess lower salaries is always the goal, but it can be difficult on bigger slates. For most of the season, my preferred strategy has been to take cheap defensemen and an undervalued goaltender, saving most of the salary for blue-chip and high-usage prospects. The results have been lucrative lately.

I’ve used these tactics to narrow down Thursday’s nine-game slate to its top eight DFS prospects. For the final time, let’s dive in!

Check out today’s daily fantasy hockey contests at DraftKings >>

Recommended Plays: DraftKings

DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000

Sebastian Aho (C – CAR): $6,900
It’s been a while since I’ve been willing to invest in Sebastian Aho. He’s a talented, high-usage player on a Stanley Cup contender, but he’s volatile in terms of his production. The 24-year-old centers Carolina’s first-line attack and top powerplay unit and has a point in four of his past five games. Aho gets a plus matchup against New Jersey Devils’ goaltender Jon Gillies (G – NJ). The 28-year-old netminder has an abysmal 3.75 GAA and has allowed three to five goals across his last three starts. As long as Aho attempts four to five shots on goal, he’ll wind up with a point and return enough value to justify inserting him into DraftKings lineups.

Nikita Kucherov (RW – TB): $7,800
Nikita Kucherov is the top prospect on nearly every slate. Especially without Auston Matthews, Kucherov has the biggest ceiling against Columbus on Thursday night. The 28-year-old winger has been blazing hot in the point column, scoring six goals and netting nine assists across his last five games. There isn’t much to focus on with Kucherov other than the fact that he steadily hovers between three to five shots on goal while seemingly always being a piece of a scoring possession for Tampa Bay. He’s well-rested, considering that Kucherov has only played 45 games this season. He’s worth the price of admission against Elvis Merzlikins (G – CBJ) and the Blue Jackets on the road Thursday night.

Noah Dobson (D – NYI): $5,700
The New York Islanders still have some appeal despite missing the postseason. Second-line defenseman Noah Dobson has two goals and four assists in his last five games while keeping a couple of shots on goal and blocked shots padding his game log for most of these recent finishes. This season, the 22-year-old has 13 goals and 35 assists for the Islanders and earns over 23 minutes of average time on ice. Dobson will face a Washington Capitals team that is a bit lackluster with its defense and goaltending. Vitek Vanecek (G – WAS) allowed three goals in a loss to Toronto in his last start, so Dobson has a solid opportunity to yield a high floor and dish his 36th assist of the season by the end of the night. He’s a good value at $5,700 on DraftKings.

Andrei Vasilevskiy (G – TB): $8,100
Andrei Vasilevskiy will face Columbus for the second consecutive game after holding the Blue Jackets to just one goal on 21 shots. The talented netminder is shockingly the fourth or fifth most expensive goaltender on the slate, so there is instant value baked onto his salary. Vasilevskiy has struggled a bit at times this season against inferior opponents, which could be why he’s undervalued. Still, he’s rounding into playoff form and looked dominant in the crease on Tuesday, so expect a similar performance on the road in Columbus during Thursday’s rematch.

Recommended Plays: FanDuel

FanDuel maximum salary is set at $55,000

Tage Thompson (C – BUF): $7,400
Tage Thompson has been lighting the lamp or helping his teammates do so during his last five games for Buffalo. The 24-year-old centers the first-line attack for the Sabres and their top powerplay unit, where he’s been performing brilliantly, entering Thursday’s game against Boston with a six-game point streak intact. The Sabres certainly aren’t an attractive team for betting purposes, but in DFS, Thompson possesses a lot of juice. He’s priced a bit high, but this is due to his recent output, which is good enough to win in most contests. Boston goaltender Linus Ullmark (G – BOS) is solid but not a world-beater, as he did allow Thompson to rack up two assists during their previous meeting in January. Pay up to land a point manufacturer on a bad team, as it’s a better investment than paying for a cheaper, volatile prospect.

Timo Meier (LW – SJ): $8,800
Sticking with bad teams who possess good players, Timo Meier is another prospect who gets a ton of usage in the offensive zone for San Jose. The 25-year-old earns his minutes on the Sharks’ first-line attack and top powerplay unit, emerging as the player with the most goals (35) and points (76) on the team this season. He’s coming off of a rare night held without a point against Anaheim, so expect Meier to be prepared for a multi-point finish against struggling Los Angeles netminder Cal Petersen (G – LAK) on Thursday night. Petersen has not played since allowing six goals in back-to-back starts against Minnesota and Colorado a couple of weeks ago. Meier is the proverbial shark smelling blood in the water during a meaningless game in terms of playoff implications for San Jose. Meier remains a quality investment despite the high price tag.

Brady Skjei (D – CAR): $4,800
Brady Skjei has been a nice fit with Carolina during his three seasons with the franchise. The 28-year-old defenseman earns all of his minutes on the Hurricanes’ second-line defensive pairing, but he’s managed to be productive despite not being on either powerplay unit. Skjei is more of a finesse defenseman than an aggressor, so the blocked shots won’t be there; however, the shots on goal have been steadily between two to four in his last five games. Skjei has four assists during this span, including a two-assist finish against the New York Rangers and the talented Igor Shesterkin on Tuesday. At under $5,000 on FanDuel, Skjei is worth the flier as a high-floor salary-saving prospect.

Jacob Markstrom (G – CGY): $7,700
Jacob Markstrom has enjoyed a career year in Calgary this season. This season, the 32-year-old netminder has a league-high nine shutouts and an impressive 2.21 GAA to make him one of the top goaltending prospects on Thursday’s slate. Markstrom will face Minnesota for the third time this season, previously holding the Wild to four goals across their doubleheader in late February, where Markstrom pulled out two wins. Expect him to be on his A-game again after getting two games to rest and a week off ahead of Thursday’s road contest in Minnesota. Markstrom is a massive value at $7,700 on FanDuel, so confidently insert him into lineups.

View daily consensus odds from all major sportsbooks for the NHL at BettingPros >>

Matthew MacKay is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Matthew, check out his archive and follow him @Matt_MacKay_.

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