NHL DraftKings and FanDuel DFS Primer: Thursday (4/7)
The NHL has ten games scheduled for Thursday’s slate, offering dozens of players to sift through while setting DFS lineups. Vancouver, Seattle, and Calgary are the three teams who will have additional adversity due to tired legs from their Wednesday night matchups. Look to exploit these teams by rostering players from their opponents, including Chicago, Arizona, and San Jose. Oddsmakers expect a lot of high-scoring games on Thursday’s slate, as three matchups have over 6.5 total goals favored. In contrast, only Pittsburgh at the New York Rangers has -118 odds to hit under 6.0 total goals due to the presence of Tristan Jarry (G – PIT) and Igor Shesterkin (G – NYR). Double-digit matchups tend to offer a lot of production and value; however, elite production often comes from players flying under the radar. It’s a balancing act between paying up for a blue-chip prospect that is a household name and a widely sought-after commodity while also investing in cheaper players who are being undervalued.
Tuesday’s recommended prospects weren’t my most robust selections of the season. Cole Caufield (LW – MTL) was the only one who lit the lamp by scoring a goal, while Charlie McAvoy (D – BOS) and Tage Thompson (C – BUF) each netted an assist. The highest performer was undoubtedly Colorado Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper (G – COL), who racked up 41 saves in a 6-4 win over Pittsburgh, sweeping the Penguins in the doubleheader series. Evan Bouchard (D – EDM), Evander Kane (LW – EDM), and Sebastian Aho (C – CAR) all busted with minimal production. At the same time, Igor Shesterkin got the night off in favor of reserve netminder Alexandar Georgiev (G – NYR).
On Thursday, it will be another wild night filled with goals, hits, and unrest between the 20 teams competing against each other, either for pride or a playoff seed. I’m here to help you navigate the overwhelming number of options and have narrowed this slate down to the eight best value players. So, let’s get to it!
Recommended Plays: DraftKings
DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000
J.T. Miller (C – VAN): $7,400
If there’s any player who can save the Vancouver Canucks season by getting them to the playoffs, it’s their first-line center, J.T. Miller. The 29-year old earns additional minutes on the Canucks’ top powerplay unit, which has allowed him to establish himself as the team’s point leader with 84 points, comprised of 29 goals and 55 assists. Yes, Miller leads Vancouver in both statistical categories and enters Thursday’s contest against Arizona with four points accrued over his last three games. As if this weren’t enticing enough, Miller will face a raw goaltender in Harri Sateri (G – ARI), who has not made a start in the crease since 2018 with the Florida Panthers. Nevertheless, Vancouver’s desperation, combined with Miller’s ability to rack up points consistently, makes him an incredible value despite the high salary. So pay up and add Miller into your DFS lineups ahead of the 10 pm ET puck drop.
Artemi Panarin (LW – NYR): $5,800
Artemi Panarin leads the New York Rangers in total points (84) thanks to a ridiculously high 65 assists. The 30-year old winger has nine assists across his last five games, including two goals, so he’s undoubtedly riding momentum and a hot hand. He earns most of his minutes on the Rangers’ second-line attack, but he skates on the top powerplay unit, where Panarin has produced 30 assists and five of his 19 goals. Thursday night, Panarin will face Pittsburgh netminder Tristan Jarry, struggling between the red pipes lately. Jarry has surrendered five goals in two of his last five starts while only holding one opponent under three goals. Panarin does tend to fluctuate wildly with his shots on goal, but it doesn’t matter due to his prowess in navigating the offensive zone to find an open teammate for a score. At under $6,000 on DraftKings, Panarin is a considerable value and should be inserted into as many DFS lineups as possible.
Rasmus Dahlin (D – BUF): $5,000
Crazy to think Rasmus Dahlin is in his fourth year in the league at just 21 years old. Buffalo’s first-line defenseman has been active on the boards and in the defensive zone lately, racking up three blocked shots in a surprising 4-2 win over Carolina on Tuesday. Dahlin earns over 23 minutes of average time on ice and attempts a couple of shots on goal per game, showing that he’s not solely a grinder on the Sabres’ defense. He ended his three-game point drought with an assist against the Hurricanes on Tuesday, which is encouraging since it came against Frederik Andersen (G – CAR), one of the league’s best goaltenders. On Thursday, Buffalo will play the second game of the series doubleheader on the road in Carolina. Andersen has surrendered seven goals in his last two starts, which have led to losses, so Dahlin can transfer his momentum and manifest it into another assist and a few blocked shots on Thursday night. He doesn’t possess a high ceiling, but Dahlin certainly has a stable floor, which is all you need with a defenseman in DFS.
Elvis Merzlikins (G – CBJ): $7,900
It may not feel safe and secure, but Elvis Merzlikins just proved that he’s capable of shaking off a bad stretch of performances. The 27-year old netminder ended a six-game losing skid as a starter for Columbus on Tuesday, blocking 47 of 49 shots against the Philadelphia Flyers on the road to lead the Blue Jackets to a 4-2 win. Merzlikins will again face the Flyers at home as part of the second game in the late-season doubleheader. It all boils down to how Columbus’ offensive personnel performs, as Merzlikins has held teams to three goals or fewer in three straight starts. On January 20th, Merzlikins held the Flyers to just one goal in a 2-1 win. The Flyers are already eliminated from the postseason, and they have dropped five of their past six games. Merzlikins has had a lot of success against Philadelphia this season and should continue to perform well in the net at home on Thursday night.
Recommended Plays: FanDuel
FanDuel maximum salary is set at $55,000
Josh Norris (C – OTT): $6,900
Ottawa is one of the youngest teams in the league, which is encapsulated by their 22-year old first-line center, Josh Norris. He leads the Senators in goals (30) and has played in just 53 games this season, which is impressive, considering Brady Tkachuk (LW – OTT) and Tim Stutzle (C – OTT) have played at least 12 more games but have fewer goals to showcase in comparison. Norris earns additional minutes on the top powerplay unit and enters Thursday’s matchup against Nashville with a six-game point streak intact, including four goals and five assists. Juuse Saros (G – NAS) has recently elevated his play in the net for Nashville, but he did surrender four goals in a loss to Buffalo last week. A strong showing against Minnesota on Tuesday should not force you to pivot off of Norris, one of the league’s most valuable offensive contributors. If he were playing on a better team, his salary would likely exceed $8,000, so take advantage of the value and insert Norris into lineups.
Cole Caufield (LW – MTL): $5,800
I’m running back to 21-year old Cole Caufield again for Thursday’s matchup against the New Jersey Devils. Montreal relies on Caufield to generate offense alongside fellow rising star Nick Suzuki (C – MTL). In just his second season in the league, Caufield has made notable strides in his development, mainly by staying healthy. He’s netted goals in consecutive games against Ottawa and Tampa Bay, and he’ll get a soft matchup against New Jersey netminder Nico Daws (G – NJ) on the road Thursday night. Daws has lost his previous three starts in the net for the Devils, including getting pulled after surrendering five goals to Boston in under 30 minutes last week. Caufield is trending up, while Daws is trending down. Invest in the young, talented first-line winger for the Canadiens ahead of a rare plus-matchup for Montreal.
Seth Jones (D – CHI): $6,600
It’s been a difficult first season in Chicago for Seth Jones. The talented 27-year old defenseman earns his minutes on the first-line defense and the Blackhawks’ top powerplay unit. Jones has a point in four of his past five games and possesses a high floor due to the number of blocked shots he averages, finishing with five blocked shots twice in his past five games. Jones’ shots on goal volume fluctuate but stay between one and five per game in most matchups. He’s dished 42 assists, second behind only Patrick Kane (LW – CHI), but he’s not a consistent goal-scorer. His fifth goal of the season came against Buffalo last week, so perhaps Jones can notch his sixth goal against a plummeting Seattle Kraken team on Thursday night. The Kraken have only scored more than two goals once in their last four games, while goaltender Philipp Grubauer (G – SEA) is leaking three to four goals in most of his previous starts.
Kevin Lankinen (G – CHI): $6,800
Chicago has had a rough season, and goaltender Kevin Lankinen is a massive culprit. So why is he getting recommended? Two reasons. First, Lankinen is facing a Seattle Kraken team with a porous offense. The Kraken have been held to two goals or less in three of their past four games. These came against better teams like Dallas and Vegas, but Lankinen has shown the ability, albeit fleeting, to hold an opponent to two or fewer goals. He nearly pulled off a win against Arizona on Sunday but wound up losing in overtime. It doesn’t get much easier than Seattle. The second reason is Lankinen’s low salary. Rostering a netminder under $7,000 on FanDuel will allow you to allocate your remaining funds to other high-upside prospects to bolster the skaters within your lineups. It’s a risk, but the payout will be huge if Seattle continues to flounder. Chicago has better personnel, which should give Lankinen enough breathing room to earn his first win since March 23rd against Anaheim.