As winter approaches and the weather outside begins to cool, the NHL season is just starting to heat up. The Dallas Stars are riding a 10-game point streak, the New York Islanders have a 16-game point streak, and you may have heard but the Toronto Maple Leafs just fired their head coach Mike Babcock after getting off to a disappointing start. All of these teams are in action tonight on what is a juicy 11-game slate starting at 7 p.m. EST.
Before we dive in, let’s talk a little strategy. I am going to try and set you up for success whether you are building lineups for cash games and head to heads or if you are trying to take down the top prize in a large tournament. While occasionally you can win a tournament by playing a cash lineup, or vice versa, you typically should cater your lineups to the type of contest you are playing.
For cash games that means reducing risk by spreading out your exposure and looking for good values. In tournaments, you should be aiming for the top so correlation is key. Stacking players from the same teams and lines in your lineup increases your risk but also your upside. Since players who are on the ice together have a chance to pick up assists when a goal is scored, having a line or power-play stack that scores multiple goals can move your lineup up the leaderboards in a hurry. When stacking, it is crucial you check team lines to make sure you are stacking players that will be on the ice together.
You can use our line combos tool to view a team’s most recent lines and power-play units from previous games. I would also highly recommend checking these lines the day of a game at either the team’s morning skate or pre-game warmups, as coaches frequently make changes game to game. Twitter is the best way to stay up to date on these changes, and if you follow me @SteveDotzel and check out my Twitter lists, you can subscribe to the same lists of team beat writers that I do.
This article is written with a cash game build in mind but can be easily applied to a tournament by simply stacking up some of these players with the suggestions listed below each. Here’s a look at some players and spots to target for tonight’s slate. All players and prices used are from the DraftKings main slate (7 p.m.), though that can be applied to FanDuel as well.
C – Nathan MacKinnon ($8,400)
One may have thought injuries to some of the Colorado Avalanche’s top forwards would slow MacKinnon down, but that has not been the case. In his last seven games MacKinnon has 14 points including three games with at least three points. His willingness to shoot the puck, averaging 4.8 shots per game, puts him firmly in play to achieve the five shot DraftKings scoring bonus and gives him a safe floor in cash games and a high ceiling in tournaments. With a home matchup against a Toronto Maple Leafs team who has given up four goals or more in five of their last six, MacKinnon is poised for a huge night.
C – Nico Hischier ($5,400)
The New Jersey Devils have been bouncing Hischier and rookie Jack Hughes back and forth in centering the top line and that spot in the lineup between Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri should be a productive one in terms of fantasy points. Double check the pre-game rushes but based off their last game Hischier figures to be that guy. Hischier also shares power-play time with the top unit, which is always an important factor to consider. The Devils have been off to a slow start, but a home matchup against the Detroit Red Wings should be enough to get anyone going. The Red Wings come in having allowed more goals than any other team, and it really isn’t even close.
W – David Pastrnak ($8,700)
One would be remiss if Pastrnak and his league-leading 20 goals wasn’t mentioned. His price tag along with that of his fellow linemates really make it difficult to do a full-on line stack, but not having any piece of this line especially in cash seems foolish at this point. Pastrnak has scored 15 DraftKings points or more in seven of ten games since the calendar flipped to November. With four goals in his last three games Pastrnak shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. The Minnesota Wild come to town having allowed the second most goals on the road this season, a recipe that certainly calls for some Pasta.
W – Max Pacioretty ($7,700)
Pacioretty saw his steak of three straight games with at least two points come to an end Thursday night as the Vegas Golden Knights disappointed at home in a loss to the San Jose Sharks. Now with Connor McDavid coming to town, the Knights could fly a bit under the radar tonight. While paying up for Pacioretty in cash may be difficult with all the other options on the slate, slotting him in to a tournament lineup paired with William Karlsson could carry low ownership and pay off. Edmonton has struggled on the road as of late allowing 13 goals in their last three contests.
W – Robby Fabbri ($3,900)
Since simply paying up for the best players at each position is not going to meet the salary requirements, some salary relief will be needed and Robby Fabbri is a fine place to go to get it. The Detroit Red Wings’ struggles defensively have already been mentioned, but the New Jersey Devils have not been much better having allowed three or more goals five times over their last seven games. Since being traded to Detroit from the St. Louis Blues, Fabbri has three goals and five assists in just seven games. With an average of 10.2 DraftKings points during that span, a $3,900 price tag presents great value.
D – Dougie Hamilton ($6,900)
Paying up for defensemen is a strategy many of the top DFS pros deploy whenever possible. When doing so, there is seldom a better option than the Carolina Hurricanes’ Dougie Hamilton. Hamilton leads all defensemen in both shots on goal and goals scored. The Florida Panthers come to PNC Arena having won five of their last six, but of no thanks to their goaltending. During that six-game stretch they have allowed 22 goals. Hamilton hasn’t lit the lamp in his last three games, but even so has still averaged more than 15 DraftKings points per game. If he can find the back of the net, he will easily pay off that hefty salary.
D – Jeff Petry ($4,800)
When you think of Montreal defensemen you think of Shea Weber ($6,800), but Jeff Petry offers a price discount while still getting us access to this spot against the New York Rangers where the Canadiens are a heavy favorite. Petry averages 3.4 peripherals per game and trails only Max Domi on the team in power play ice time. The Rangers allow the fourth-most goals per game and are playing on the second night of a back-to-back.
Goalies (Be sure to confirm goalies are starting at Goalie Post before rostering)
Carey Price ($8,300)
Tuukka Rask ($8,500)
Philipp Grubauer ($7,900)
Petr Mrazek ($8,000)
For tournaments, adding a goalie to a line stack is a popular strategy.
The Five Hole
Five players to build cash lineups around:
Five tournament stacks to consider not previously listed:
Feel free to reach out to me via Twitter for any NHL DFS questions, and I hope to see you on top the leaderboard.