Cheap Players for Daily Fantasy Hockey – December 31

by Michael Clifford on December 31, 2015

Looking at some top end plays tonight on DraftKings, as well as some bargain options.


A Happy New Year to all the Dobber readers out there. Though I only came on board at the end of the last regular season, it has been a great experience writing here, talking hockey with those that keep coming back. Let’s try to win some money as the 2015 calendar year closes out.

Last week (Sunday, to be exact) was a little rough, as most of the players were flops. Those kind of nights happen over the course of a season, so hopefully things go better tonight.

As always, there will be a skater listed at each of the three DraftKings position. Three will be on the bargain bin side of things, priced at $3000 or less, and three will be at the top-end of the pay scale, with the forwards at least $7000, and the defenceman at least $6000.


Don’t forget to jump into tonight’s $35K prize pool Sniper contest on DraftKings tonight! Follow this link to get right to the selection screen, and details are below.

  • $35 000 guaranteed prize pool with a $2000 top prize.
  • $3 entry, and multiple entries are allowed.
  • Maximum amount of total entries is 13 415, and the top 2750 pay out.
  • Select two centres, three wingers, two defencemen, a goalie, and a utility skater.


Cheap Players

Alex Burmistrov (WPG-C) – $2600

Mark Scheifele suffered a concussion and it forced the Winnipeg Jets to switch their lines around a little. The top line is now Drew Stafford, Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little. The second line consists of Andrew Ladd, Adam Lowry, and Burmistrov. Not only that, Burmistrov is getting time on the second power play unit as well.

Burmistrov’s history as a pro hockey player is well-documented. He also had just seven points in 34 games this year playing in Winnipeg’s bottom-six. The thing was, there isn’t much for skill outside of Nikolaj Ehlers in the bottom-six (and he didn’t get dropped down there until mid-November), and Burmistrov was playing around 15 minutes a game. In the two games since being moved up the lineup and on the power play, Burmistrov has played over 19 minutes each time.

Going into Arizona is a pretty good matchup for the Jets, and things improve when taking into account that the Mikkel Boedker line will probably face the Wheeler line for the most part. The depth of the Coyotes lineup isn’t much to boast about yet. Burmistrov’s minutes alone make him viable tonight, and the matchup only helps.

Dwight King (LAK-W) – $3000

There are a few rules of thumb I keep in mind when playing DFS: fade top lines going into Boston (Bergeron matchup), Los Angeles (Kopitar), and Chicago (Toews). Another matchup I usually fade as well is top lines going into Calgary. Not that the Flames are a team to be feared, but over the last few years, the top defence pair of Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie has been one of the best in the league. The rest of the defence, not so much.

The thing with the Calgary defence, as I alluded to, is that they are top heavy. After Giordano and Brodie, and Dougie Hamilton as well, there isn’t much. Other than Giordano and Brodie, the other five defencemen with at least 100 minutes played this year are on the ice for at least 59 shot attempts per 60 minutes at five-on-five. To put that into perspective, those five defenceman are ranked 194th, 197th, 209th, 213th, and 216th out of 225 defencemen with at least that many minutes (as of Wednesday night). In other words, they are bad.

 This is less about believing in King’s skills and more about believing that there is a black hole of defensive play on the Flames, and exploiting it. He should get about 15 minutes of ice, including some sparse power play time, but in this matchup, it should be enough to get to value.

Brad Hunt (EDM-D) – $2600

After being recalled from the AHL, Hunt was immediately slotted as the lone defenceman on the Taylor Hall power play unit for the Oilers. Needless to say, that’s a pretty plush spot for a guy that is nearly minimum priced.

He didn’t get on the board in his first game, but he had three shots on goal, which is precisely what he was brought up to do. This guy is not there to be a defensive wizard; he’s there to be a heavy point shot on the power play. Anaheim’s penalty kill is pretty good, but they are one of the most penalized teams in the NHL, so hopefully the quantity can win out here.

There isn’t much for bargain defence options tonight. Other than Thomas Hickey, things look grim in that price range. Considering Hunt’s lineup positioning, it seems foolish not to consider him nearly a must-play in cash games today.

Expensive Players

John Tavares (NYI-D) – $7800

This guy burned anyone who used him on Sunday night, but rebounded nicely in Toronto. Tonight, the Islanders are going into Buffalo, which isn’t a particularly great matchup, but the Sabres are playing their second game in as many nights, and hopefully that’s good news for the Islanders.

It’s worth noting that Tavares has been playing his last few games with Anders Lee. It’s important because since the start of the 2013-2014 season, with Tavares and Lee on the ice together (over 440 five-on-five minutes), the Islanders average over 71 shot attempts per 60 minutes. That is an astronomical number. For comparison, the NHL leader in this regard last year was Joe Thornton, on the ice for 68.65 shot attempts per 60 minutes. When Tavares is on the ice without Lee, that number drops to 61.25. That has translated to more goals (3.12 per 60 minutes to 2.82) as well.

It is hard to go back to the well when the guy burned you earlier in the week. It is important, however, to keep the emotions in check and go with the logical plays. Considering the Sabres are one of the worst penalty killing teams in the league (though they don’t take many penalties), are playing their second game in as many nights, and Tavares is back with Lee, it seems like he’s a solid play tonight.

Taylor Hall (EDM-W) – $7400

On the season, Hall is averaging over four shots on goal per game, and has averaged over five shots on goal per game his last five times out. He also has multiple blocked shots in three of those five games (and has 28 on the season). In other words, Hall has one of the highest floors among all the forwards.

Hall is a point-per-game player averaging four shots a contest. Considering, at time of writing, he is averaging 0.1 fewer DK points per game than Alex Ovechkin, but is $1400 cheaper than Ovi, this seems obvious.

Justin Faulk (CAR-D) – $6400

Carolina facing Washington probably doesn’t scream “good matchup.” And it really doesn’t. But with the Capitals on the road, playing their second game in as many nights, and likely not having Braden Holtby in net (with John Carlson not making the trip), this matchup starts to look a little bit better.

I think using Faulk makes a better tournament play than a cash game play. The reasoning is that DFSers will want to take advantage of his (what I hope to be) low ownership rate. Ownership rates don’t really matter in cash games, but having a defenceman that can put up six or seven DK points in a GPP that could be under 10% owned is a valuable asset. My reasoning is that the general public will see an elite Washington team facing a lowly Carolina team and want to fade them.

Faulk has a nice floor as you can bank on 2-2.5 points through shots and blocked shots alone. Assuming Faulk can figure into at least one goal, that should be enough to get him close to value, and there is upside beyond that.


Remember to join the $35K guaranteed Sniper contest tonight!


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