The holidays are over, several teams have crossed the halfway point of their season, and initial All-Star rosters have been announced. It’s a great time of year to be a hockey fan. We can debate some of those All-Star snubs but one player who isn’t disappointed to potentially be missing the weekend event is Dylan Larkin of the Detroit Red Wings. Per Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press when asked about his potential to be voted in by the fans on the “Last Men In” ballot Larkin stated, “Please don’t vote. I like the days off more.” Perhaps a too honest answer as this has led to several fans vowing to vote Larkin in just for spite. One could hardly blame Larkin though for wanting a break given the season the Red Wings are currently having. But with that said, I am looking forward to seeing how the voting turns out and would be lying if part of me didn’t want to see him get voted in.
As for fantasy, for the first Saturday in some time the day is really split into two slates. There is the afternoon slate comprised of four games with start times ranging from 1 p.m. EST to 2 p.m. EST followed by the main slate which is seven games starting at the standard 7 p.m. EST time. I like these split days as it allows you the chance to double up your action on the day if you wish, or simply choose one of the slates that fits best with your schedule. With 4+ games on each, both slates have enough options to apply both cash and tournament strategies previously covered. Since DraftKings and FanDuel have the seven-game slate at 7 p.m. EST as their main slate, and therefore have larger contests for it, I will use that as the focus of the article this week. All players and prices are from DraftKings but can be applied to FanDuel as well.
C – Nathan MacKinnon ($8,100)
With only 14 teams in action, this slate doesn’t have as many options as past Saturdays. Many of the big time scorers like Alex Ovechkin, David Pastrnak, and Connor McDavid are noticeably absent. In fact, of the top 10 points leaders in the NHL only two are available to roster tonight. One of those players is MacKinnon who continues to rack up stats with three goals, three assists, and 15 shots in just the past two games alone. With an average of more than 25 DraftKings points across the past four games, it’s hard to look past this combination of floor and ceiling for cash games.
C – Bo Horvat ($5,800)
The Canucks have heated up as of late in winning six straight games, and joining them on this hot streak is their captain Horvat. During that stretch Horvat has recorded three goals and four assists awhile averaging three shots and two blocks per game. In Thursday’s contest Horvat exploded for 48.4 DraftKings points, showing exactly the type of potential he possesses. On his wing Tanner Pearson has emerged as a consistent scoring threat which has certainly helped in Horvat’s recent production. Vancouver’s opponent tonight, the New York Rangers, are allowing the second-most shots per game which gives Horvat a chance at an encore to Thursday’s big night.
Stacking Options: Tanner Pearson ($4,700)
W – Artemi Panarin ($7,100)
Earlier there was a mention of Nathan MacKinnon being one of two players on this slate who ranks in the top ten in the league in points. The other player on that list is Panarin. Panarin’s 55 points entering Saturday trails only MacKinnon and the duos in Edmonton and Boston. Since the calendar flipped to December, Panarin has registered ten goals and 12 assists in 15 games. During that span he has averaged more than 16 DraftKings points per game. More recently since returning from the Christmas break Panarin racked up ten points in just three games before getting left off the stat sheet Thursday. The Rangers’ opponent, the Vancouver Canucks, are allowing the third-most shot attempts per game since December 1, while the Rangers struggles themselves in that department have already been covered. This sets up what should be an up-tempo game, and with most people likely gravitating towards the Vancouver side, Panarin and the Rangers are an intriguing tournament option.
W – Patric Hornqvist ($5,000)
Hornqvist missed a month’s worth of action due to a lower body injury and his return couldn’t come at a better time for the Pittsburgh Penguins with the recent news of All-Star Jake Guentzel’s shoulder injury that is set to sideline him for several months. In the three games since returning, Hornqvist has three goals, an assist, and 15 shots on goal. All four of those points have come in the most recent two games where he has averaged a tick under 30 DraftKings points. Given all the injuries the Penguins have, Hornqvist currently has a secure role on the team’s top power play unit as well which only adds to his value. At just $5,000 Hornqvist’s price will only continue to rise if this level of play continues.
W – Nick Cousins ($3,300)
It’s hard to get excited about rostering Cousins but having been thrust onto the top line for Montreal following the injury to Brendan Gallagher, you could do much worse for just $3,300. In Thursday’s game, Cousins first since the promotion, he recorded an assist while adding five shots on goal and a block. He even saw over two minutes of power-play time. Those 16.8 DraftKings points certainly more than paid off that cheap price tag, and as long as keeps his spot on that top line Cousins will represent a fantastic value. The entire line comes in at a really affordable price for stacking in tournaments.
D – Victor Hedman ($6,300)
Getting a piece of Tampa Bay who faces off against the Senators in Ottawa tonight makes a lot of sense as they possess one of the highest Vegas totals on the slate. Ottawa has allowed four or more goals in seven of the last eight games, a pretty rough stretch. Tampa Bay can score early and often in this one so having the player who will be on the ice the most is a good place to start. In addition to his 22+ minutes of ice time per night, Hedman is a staple on the man advantage where he leads the Lightning with 19 points on the power play. Hedman has been kept off the scoresheet the past two games but prior to that he was in the midst of a three-game stretch where he put up eight points and registered 12 shots. That type of potential from a defenseman is worth paying up for.
D – Mattias Ekholm ($4,300)
For anyone that watched the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day you surely saw the elbow Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis took, which caused him to leave the game. Ellis has since been placed on IR which creates the potential for increased usage for Ekholm. After Ellis’s departure Wednesday Ekholm went on to score a goal while racking up over 27 minutes of ice time. Ekholm has put up some respectable offensive numbers already this season with 5 goals, 16 assists, and just under 10 DraftKings points per game so at just $4,300 there isn’t much risk of ruin here for Ekholm even if he doesn’t get the expected bump in time.
Goalies (Be sure to confirm goalies at Goalie Post before rostering)
Andrei Vasilevskiy ($8,100)
Pavel Francouz ($8,000)
Antti Raanta ($7,600)
The Five Hole
Five players to build cash lineups around:
Five tournaments stacks to consider not previously mentioned:
Feel free to reach out to me via Twitter for any NHL DFS questions. Follow me @SteveDotzel and I will do my best to tweet any major updates to players in the article throughout the day and before lock.