Cheap Players for Daily Fantasy Hockey – December 27

by Michael Clifford on December 27, 2015

Some expensive skaters, and some bargain bin players, to use tonight on DraftKings. 

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Welcome back, NHL, from the Christmas break. I know it’s nice to have some time off, but those three days without hockey felt like three weeks.

With the Christmas break, it kind of threw the schedule off a bit for this column. Typically, this is a column that is posted on Thursdays, but with no hockey this week, we decided to do it on Sunday instead.

There will be players listed at both the top end of the pricing spectrum, and the lower end. Each bargain player will be $3000 or less, with the expensive forwards being $7000 or more, and the expensive defenceman at $6000 or more.

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Don’t forget to jump in the $15,000 guaranteed, $3 entry Sniper contest on DraftKings tonight! Just follow this link and get right into the game. Details below:

  • $15,000 guaranteed prize pool, and $3 to enter.
  • $1000 top prize.
  • Maximum of 5750 players, with the top 1175 paying out.
  • Draft a roster of players consisting of two centres, three wingers, two defencemen, a goalie, and a utility spot.

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Cheap Players

Robby Fabbri (STL-C) – $2700

It is worth mentioning out of the gate that Fabbri has been getting a bit of power play time, playing regularly on the second unit. Now, while St. Louis has clearly defined their top and second units, getting some power play time is better than none.

Also important to note that each of Fabbri’s previous six games have seen him post more ice time than his season average. It can take a lot for a young player to gain the trust of St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock (ask Dmitrij Jaskin), and it seems like Fabbri is starting to gain that trust. That is crucial to avoiding a bagel from a young player because his coach only gives him nine minutes or so.

This is also a good matchup for the Blues, as Dallas plays a very high-event style of hockey, and the higher the events, the higher the floor for the team (at least in terms of shots produced). Even though Fabbri is technically on the third line now, this matchup should be ripe for lots of shots (from both sides). With avoiding the tough top-six from Dallas, I like St. Louis’s chances of having their depth players score in this one.

Viktor Tikhonov (ARI-W) – $2700

Arizona has experimented with the lines a bit, but the second line last night was that of Tikhonov, Max Domi, and Anthony Duclair. Needless to say, there’s a lot of young skill on that line, and it’s a great spot for a cheap player.

The Coyotes are on a back-to-back here, which makes me a bit nervous about using and players from their roster. With that said, if there is a team I don’t mind picking against almost regardless of situation, it’s the Colorado Avalanche. I would probably rather use Tikhonov in a tournament because I think there is a reasonable chance he puts up a zero (or close to it), but if that line can exploit an easy matchup, there is a fair amount of upside here as well.

Evgeny Medvedev (PHI-D) – $3000

The 33-year old rookie – well, it’s his first NHL season anyway – is another player (kind of like Fabbri) who seems to be gaining the trust of his coach. Each of his previous three games have seen a higher ice time per game than his season average (19:04). He is playing the second power play unit, though like St. Louis, there is a clear split between the first and second unit. Over his last 10 games, he’s also averaging over two shots per game (2.2, to be exact). With the blocked shots, it gives Medvedev a floor that would recoup about half of his salary.

It is no secret that the Ducks have struggled mightily this year, but I don’t expect the Flyers to fill the net. That doesn’t mean that Medvedev can’t reach value, and even if he doesn’t, he has a nice floor to work with.

Expensive Players

John Tavares (NYI-C) – $7800

It has been a tough season of sorts for Tavares to this point. He is on pace for his lowest point total since his rookie year, and is posting his worst shots-per-game rate since that first year as well. He is averaging over 3.5 shots per game over the last five games, though, so there is a sign of a potential turn-around.

There are two reasons, really, why I would be looking to pay up for Tavares at centre tonight. The first is that is there anyone that has confidence in the Toronto goaltending right now? At the absolute best, their goaltenders are league-average, and the Islanders should be able to take advantage of that.

Second, the Tavares line should match up against the Tyler Bozak line. Though the Leafs as a whole have improved defensively under Mike Babcock, Bozak remains one of the worst on the team in allowing scoring chances. Parenteau hasn’t been too good this year, either, so I think the Tavares line should be able to skate all over this trio tomorrow.

I am not a big fan of paying up for centres tonight, but of all the expensive ones, Tavares is the one that should be targeted. This matchup at home is too good to pass.

Blake Wheeler (WPG-W) – $7000

With seven points in his previous four games, Wheeler has vaulted himself to a mark that is slightly over a point-per-game (35 points in 34 games). There is nothing too far out of line for underlying stats, either. His on-ice shooting percentage at five-on-five is lower than the lockout-shortened season, and his rookie season. At five-on-four, his on-ice shooting mark (14.12-percent) is lower than last year (14.67-percent). In other words, there may not be significant regression this regular season, which is important to know for DFS, because there isn’t a concern of a wrongfully-inflated price.

This is also a pretty good matchup for Winnipeg, and for the top line. Pittsburgh hasn’t been very good defensively this year. They are 20th in score-adjusted high-danger chances allowed per 60 minutes, which is actually worse than Colorado and Arizona. Oddly enough, the worst among all regular Pittsburgh forwards in this regard on the season has been Sidney Crosby.

I would assume the Wheeler line gets matched against the Crosby line. Considering the Penguins played last night in Minnesota, this is a really good matchup for the Jets, and more specifically, their top line. I’m a big fan of Wheeler tonight.

Erik Karlsson (OTT-D) – $                7500

Paying up for Karlsson is a bit tough to stomach at this price, I can understand that. Aside from Dustin Byfuglien, though, there aren’t very many great expensive defence options tonight. That makes Karlsson the best of what’s left.

One important factor here for using Karlsson is his ice time. He’s usually a player that gets a lot of minutes, but three of his last four games have been over 31 minutes, and that one game he wasn’t was 28:30. One reason for it being important is obviously that is a large market share of ice time, but more than that, is it raises his floor. Those four games have all seen him block at least two shots, and post 12 shots on goal total. That gives him a floor of about three DK points a game, and that is very solid.

This is also a good matchup for the Sens, with a Boston team coming into town after having played last night. The Bruins are about as bad as Pittsburgh in allowing high-danger scoring chances, and things get worse when looking at just scoring chances in general. With his floor, and this matchup, I don’t have a problem paying up for Karlsson tonight.

Remember to follow this link to get into the $15,000 guaranteed prize pool Sniper contest tonight on DraftKings!

*Some stats from Hockey Reference, Hockey Analysis, and War On Ice. Lineup combinations from Dobber Frozen Pool.