Cheap Players for Daily Fantasy Hockey – March 24

by Michael Clifford on March 24, 2016

A look at some top shelf, and bargain bin, options for tonight's DraftKings slate.

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Welcome back for another week of both lower-end, and expensive, options for the 11-game NHL slate on DraftKings.

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Jump into the action tonight by entering the DraftKings Sniper contest! Just follow this link to get to the player selection screen, and details are below:

  • $25 000 guaranteed total prize pool, $3 per entry
  • 9583 entries, with the top 1920 scores paying out
  • $2000 top prize
  • Select two centres, three wingers, two defencemen, a goalie, and a utility skater

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As always, there will be a cheap option per DraftKings skater position priced at $3000 or less. There will also be one expensive skater for each forward position at $7000 or more, and an expensive defenceman at $6000 or more.

Cheap Options

Riley Sheahan (DET-C) – $2900

It seems like he is always one of the players the appears most frequently among the cheap options in this column. It is sort of hard to not consider him when he has line mates that he does, and as of right now, he appears to be skating with Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar. For all the problems Detroit has had scoring this year, those two players are 86th and 65th in points per 60 minutes, respectively, among regular forwards in the NHL this year.

One of the big reasons for being on Detroit tonight are the injuries to the Montreal blue line. P.K. Subban is expected to be out for this game, and without Jeff Petry and Tom Gilbert, that is half of their top-six not in the lineup. Subban also leads Montreal defencemen in relative high-danger scoring chances over the last three seasons. That means Montreal is at their best with him on the ice, which shouldn’t be much of a surprise.

With Sheahan on what could be called Detroit’s third line, that could mean seeing a lot of Darren Dietz and Joel Hanley for the Canadiens (or at least not the top pairing). This is a good matchup for a talented Detroit trio, and Sheahan is the cheapest of the three of them.

Michael Ferland (CGY-W) – $2900

Quite often, players that are solid cheap options are such because they are passengers on elite lines. This is the case with Ferland, as he is expected to skate with Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau tonight with the Flames in Minnesota. On the season, Ferland has just 12 points in 62 games, usually playing a minor role.

One thing Ferland does do well is take shots. With DFS cash games, having a solid floor really helps in consistently cashing; relying on fairly random events (goals) all the time is a quick way to empty the bankroll. This might come as a surprise, but Ferland is actually second among Flames forwards in shots per 60 minutes at five-on-five this year, trailing only Michael Frolik. With Ferland on the top line, he could play upwards of 15 minutes tonight, which means a couple shots on goal seems likely. That, at least, will recoup half his cost.

The Wild haven’t been that good defensively since hiring John Torchetti. Adjusted for score, the team is nestled between Winnipeg and Calgary for allowing high-danger chances at five-on-five. To avoid paying a high price for a player on the road, Ferland is a good way to get cheap exposure to the top line.

Luke Schenn (LAK-D) – $2900

This is not a recommendation to be made lightly. I am not the biggest fan of Luke Schenn in the world, but there are not many solid cheap options on the blue line tonight, even on an 11-game slate, and Schenn is in a decent spot tonight.

Schenn is basically being used as a fourth wheel on the Los Angeles power play blue line right now. The team starts with Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin, and then they change for Alec Martinez and Luke Schenn. After 30 seconds or so, Schenn heads off and Doughty goes back on. While Schenn won’t rack up three or four minutes of power play time, he managed a little over a minute in their last game on just two power plays.

It’s noteworthy that the Kings are going into Winnipeg tonight. The Jets are giving up the second-most power plays in the NHL, and are nearly worst at preventing offence when they do take penalties. Schenn could see a couple minutes of power play time tonight, and in this matchup, at that price, he is not a bad option at all.

Expensive Options

Joe Pavelski (SJS-C) – $7300

As has been the case for a long time now, the Oilers are pretty much on cruise control for the rest of the season. The Sharks, on the other hand, still have positioning and home-ice advantage to worry about. Hopefully they are a bit more motivated for this game than the Oilers are.

According to Corsica, the trio of Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, and Tomas Hertl, has been one of the most offensively potent this year. Of the 30 lines in the NHL that have played at least 300 minutes together at five-on-five, they are eighth in shot attempts per 60 minutes. They have generated more than lines like Getzlaf/Perry/Rakell, Marchand/Bergeron/Connolly, and Kane/Anisimov/Panarin. While that hasn’t translated to more goals compared to lines like Patrick Kane’s, generating offence at an elite rate like that helps separate real productive lines from those just riding high shooting percentages.

With Edmonton in town, the Sharks should be able to feast (that is totally intended). The Oilers are poor defensively while short-handed, and while five-on-five. They have only been propped up at times by their goaltending. Provided that Cam Talbot doesn’t stand on his head, Pavelski should figure into the scoring.

James Neal (NSH-W) – $6000

This is cheating a bit as Neal is below the $7000 threshold. The thing is, despite all the games, there are only two wingers priced at $7000 or more tonight. I’d rather bend the threshold a bit than recommend a player that shouldn’t really be used tonight. For that reason, the limit for the winger is $6000 or more for today.

Nashville has spent a lot of time on the road lately. The interesting development in the couple of home games they have played this month, according to War On Ice’s game reports, is that the Predators have been using the Ribeiro line against the other team’s top line. That means Ryan Johansen, Neal, and Calle Jarnkrok should see a lot of Vancouver’s second and third lines tonight. Not having to face the Sedins, and facing the depth from Vancouver, is a very good matchup: both Bo Horvat and Jared McCann are in the bottom-20 in the NHL for being on-ice for high-danger scoring chances against.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson (ARI-D) – $6100

Through shots and blocked shots alone, the floor for Ekman-Larsson appears to be about two DraftKings points per game. That recoups a little less than 50-percent of his cost. In reality, that isn’t a great ratio, but there is a lot to love about this matchup tonight.

On the season, Dallas is 27th in the NHL for allowing high-danger scoring chances. The thing with Dallas is, the generate so much the other way, that it hasn’t been a real problem for them in the regular season. On a site like FanDuel, where plus/minus is a concern, Ekman-Larsson could be faded for tonight. On DraftKings, though, there is no such concern, and there should be a lot of offence in this game.

Going back to last year, Ekman-Larsson has generated 19 shots in four games against the Coyotes. Without Tyler Seguin in the lineup, the Stars are fairly thin down the middle past Jason Spezza. I suspect this game will be defence-optional, and Ekman-Larsson seems like a relatively good bet to get at least an assist and a handful of shots on goal tonight.

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Don’t forget to jump into the $3 entry Sniper contest on DraftKings tonight!

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*Stats from Hockey Reference, Hockey Analysis, War On Ice, and Corsica Hockey. Line combinations from Dobber’s Frozen Pool