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NHL DraftKings and FanDuel DFS Primer: Friday (3/24)

NHL DraftKings and FanDuel DFS Primer: Friday (3/24)

We’ve got a small, three-game sampler on tap for Friday’s NHL slate. Two of the three games are projected to be fairly tight, while the Arizona Coyotes are the only team with moneyline odds exceeding +170 odds, gaining a ton of value as +360 moneyline road underdogs against the Colorado Avalanche. The other two games should be a bit tighter, with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Buffalo Sabres both serving as home underdogs, as the Blue Jackets will host the New York Islanders (-200) and the Sabres will face the New Jersey Devils (-175) in front of their home fan bases on Friday night. The Islanders are currently sitting in the first Wild Card seed in the Eastern Conference, while the Sabres are in the midst of a four-game losing slump that has quickly diminished their playoff ambitions from a few weeks ago.

Lighter slates are a double-edged sword when it comes to DFS lineup construction. On the one hand, we’re getting some excellent blue-chip prospects at a bigger discounted value due to the lack of games, but this also creates fewer combinations to roll out in contests against other opponents, making it more difficult to win with a contrarian, high-risk, high-reward strategy. It shows up the most with goaltenders. Goalies often make or break a lineup based on whether or not their team can rally and manufacture a win. Even racking up 35 saves and allowing only two goals won’t be enough if other players don’t hit their ceiling in the lineup and the goaltender’s team loses, eliminating six bonus points on DraftKings and eight bonus points on FanDuel. Oddsmakers don’t have a lot of confidence in the projected netminders for Friday, as all three matchups have plus odds on the over for total goals, with the only exception occurring in the Sabres vs. Devils game, setting it at seven goals (+100) due the Sabres’ porous goaltending going up against the high-octane New Jersey offense.

Recapping how Tuesday’s prospects fared, Tyler Toffoli (RW – Flames) was the marquee player to add to lineups, racking up three assists and five shots on goal during the Flames’ 5-1 rout of Anaheim. Patrice Bergeron (C – Bruins) and Jason Robertson (LW – Stars) each netted an assist, but Mika Zibanejad’s (C – Rangers) point streak ended in a quiet 3-2 loss to Carolina. Both defensemen, Victor Hedman (D – Lightning) and Cam Fowler (D – Ducks) were unable to record a point, while goalies Jake Oettinger (G – Stars) and Ilya Samsonov (G – Maple Leafs) surrendered a combined 11 goals, leading to losses for both of them.

As always, I’ve spent time identifying eight of my favorite skaters on Friday’s three-game slate, so let’s find out why they deserve to be inserted into your DFS lineups. Good luck and let’s cash these contests!

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Recommended Plays: DraftKings

DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000

Jack Hughes (C – Devils): $8,200
We’ve seen Jack Hughes cool off a bit despite collecting 37 goals and 81 total points for the Devils this season. The 21-year-old is in his fourth year in the league and has emerged as one of hockey’s young superstars, utilizing a blend of speed, puck handling, and finishing at the net to be an asset in DFS lineups on most nights. It’s a good opportunity for Hughes to bounce back in the stat sheet, as he’s gone three straight games without logging a point, but he did log 10 shots on goal during the Devils’ 2-1 overtime loss to Minnesota. Buffalo has surrendered seven goals in two straight games, so Hughes is worth every penny, and we’re still getting good value on him at roughly $8K on DraftKings.

Nick Schmaltz (RW – Coyotes): $4,700
Clayton Keller (RW – Coyotes) steals a lot of the highlights and production on Arizona’s top attack line but Nick Schmaltz has been solid as the second weapon alongside Keller in the attack line. The 27-year-old is now in his fifth season with the Coyotes and he’s scored 21 goals and 50 total points, despite missing a few games recently. Schmaltz is a screaming value at under $5K, recording at least one assist in three consecutive games entering Friday’s road contest against Colorado. It may look like a bad matchup for Schmaltz on paper, but Alexandar Georgiev (G – Avalanche) just surrendered four goals to Pittsburgh during his last start, so Schmaltz should continue to show up in the score sheet once Friday’s game concludes, making him a priority addition to DFS lineups.

Dougie Hamilton (D – Devils): $7,200
Normally, I don’t like paying up for defensemen, but Dougie Hamilton is heavily involved in New Jersey’s offense. The veteran is fresh off of attempting nine shots on goal and logging two blocked shots, which was enough to produce 19.1 DK FPPG against a good defensive team like Minnesota in his last outing. Hamilton also has three assists across his last four games played, offering a high floor and an equally high ceiling to justify his elevated salary in DraftKings lineups against the woeful Buffalo Sabres defense.

Ilya Sorokin (G – Islanders): $8,400
It’s a chalky recommendation, but Ilya Sorokin has won four of his last five starts and is facing Columbus’ bottom-five offense on Friday night. Sorokin has a 2.36 GAA and an impressive .924 save percentage with a 26-19-6 record this season, bailing the Islanders out on numerous occasions. He’ll be worth all of his $8.4K salary on DraftKings, which makes him the most expensive netminder on the slate, but he has allowed three total goals across his last two starts against San Jose and Toronto. Don’t overthink this one and pay up to anchor your lineups accordingly.

Recommended Plays: FanDuel

FanDuel maximum salary is set at $55,000

Nathan MacKinnon (C – Avalanche): $10,200
I tried to avoid jumping on Nathan MacKinnon to find a savvier play but no one matches his floor, which always winds up in double-digit production on FanDuel. MacKinnon has only scored one goal in his past five games played but he’s recorded at least one point in ten consecutive games, five of which were multi-point outings. Arizona plans to deploy Karel Vejmelka (G – Coyotes) in the crease, who has looked better lately, but still has a 3.33 GAA and will make his season debut against the Avs. It’s going to cost a lot to acquire MacKinnon but he’ll quickly ease doubts with his unmatched production at home against an inferior opponent on Friday night.

Valeri Nichushkin (RW – Avalanche): $6,600
Surprise, surprise, I’m sticking with Colorado and gravitating toward Valeri Nichushkin. The second-line winger has at least one point in five of his previous six games played, going above 10 FD PPG in four games during this recent six-game stretch. What Nichushkin lacks in shot volume, he makes up for with his consistency in recording assists, so at $6.6K on FanDuel, consider Nichushkin a good value against the Coyotes’ goaltending.

Adam Boqvist (D – Blue Jackets): $5,000
We’re not likely to see another two-goal burst from Adam Boqvist as he did against the Washington Capitals earlier in the week, but he takes enough shots on goal and usually winds up with a couple of blocked shots per game. If we reach 10 FD points, consider it a successful ROI, especially since Boqvist is only costing us $5K to roster. The Islanders are a good defensive team and possess great goaltending, so there is risk involved here, but I like Columbus’ form lately and they’ll be eager to play spoiler and knock their divisional opponent out of their Wild Card seed at home on Friday night.

Vitek Vanecek (G – Devils): $8,000
After enduring a rough stretch in between the pipes, Vitek Vanecek has improved for the Devils recently, holding Minnesota and Tampa Bay each to two goals, while possessing a 1-0-1 record during this stretch. Vanecek did not start in the Devils’ only previous game against the Buffalo Sabres, so he’ll need to be wary of Tage Thompson (C – Sabres), Jeff Skinner (lLW – Sabres), and the rest of the Sabres’ attackers, but Vanecek has had three days to rest to prepare for this game, so let’s jump on his improved play against a team that has only logged two outright wins in their last ten games.

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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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