Cheap Players for Daily Fantasy Hockey – March 3

by Michael Clifford on March 3, 2016

A look at some cheap, and expensive, players to use for Thursday's slate on DraftKings.


Welcome back to this column for another week of bargain bin, and top-end options, for tonight on DraftKings.


Be sure to jump in the daily fantasy action on DraftKings tonight! Follow this link to get to the player selection screen for the $3 entry Sniper contest. Details below:

  • $3 entry, $30 000 guaranteed prize pool.
  • A maxiumum of 11 500 total entries, with the top 2302 paying out.
  • $2000 top prize.
  • Select two centres, three wingers, two defencemen, a goalie, and a utility skater.


As always, there will be one player listed at each DraftKings skater position. For the cheap options, they will all be $3000 or less. For the expensive forwards, they will be $7000 or more, with the defenceman at $6000 or more.


Cheap Options

Zemgus Girgensons (BUF-C) – $2900

With Calgary coming into town, it’s not a bad night to look at some Sabres skaters. While the top line will, rightfully, garner most of the attention, the depth players are not to be ignored here.

Girgensons is playing down the lineup, which is to say not on the first line (in all likelihood, as there was no morning skate). The rest of the lines in Buffalo are pretty much interchangeable at this point. The big advantage here as far as Girgensons is concerned is that he’s getting a fair bit of ice time, having not played under 13 minutes in a game he’s completed in two months, and that he’s on the top power play unit.

That last point is of the utmost importance here. While Calgary doesn’t take a lot of penalties, by high-danger scoring chances against, the Flames are by far the worst penalty kill in the league. There is as big a gap between the Flames (30th) and the 29th penalty kill as there is between 29th and 10th. That is horrific.

While his even strength line mates are far from ideal, Girgensons is in a nice power play matchup tonight. There isn’t much for depth centres, and the Calgary penalty kill is hard to get away from.

Emerson Etem (VAN-W) – $2800

Vancouver is bad, and they face the Sharks tonight, and they are not bad. It’s simplistic, but important to note here, because this isn’t necessarily a great matchup for the Canucks.

Due to the injury to Jannik Hansen, Etem has been moved to the top line with the Sedin twins. While most of the Vancouver roster should be avoided, it’ll be hard to ignore a player that is priced at $2800 playing with the Sedins.

Etem is not really a scorer, and is definitely playing above his role being on the top line, but as long as he has the opportunity to play with those two premium players, he deserves consideration for a bargain option.

Jakub Nakladal (CGY-D) – $2700

Nakladal is a 28-year old rookie who has spent most of the season so far in the AHL. He is playing on Calgary’s second power play unit, though, and that gives him some fantasy value. His floor (shots+blocked shots) is about 1 DK point, so here’s a situation where about half his cost should be recouped without a scoring point registered.

Earlier the Calgary penalty kill was discussed, but it’s also important to mention the Buffalo PK as well. While they don’t take many penalties either, Buffalo is tied for 26th in the NHL for high-danger chances allowed per minute while short-handed. Given that Nakladal is getting second unit power play minutes, there is value here against a very poor penalty killing team.


Expensive Options

Steven Stamkos (TBL-C) – $7200

While this DFS player is not a big fan of Stamkos’ line mates, that top trio of Stamkos, Ryan Callahan, and Alex Killorn are absolutely on fire of late. More than that, though, is the matchup that the Lightning have tonight: without Kyle Turris in the lineup, Ottawa’s top two centres are Mika Zibanejad and J-G Pageau. That is not a top-6 centre tandem that should strike fear in the hearts of the opposing offensive players. In fact, Pageau and Zibanejad have been on the ice for the third-most, and most, high-danger scoring chances per minute of ice time at five-on-five this year on the Senators (respectively). Note that that is largely while avoiding the top competition that had typically been facing the Turris line.

On top of the poor five-on-five play, the Senators are fairly poor on the penalty kill as well. So far this year, Ottawa is tied for 24th in the NHL for most high-danger scoring chances allowed while short-handed. With Stamkos averaging a power play goal nearly every five games, this seems to be a good matchup for him. 

The Lightning have already faced Tampa Bay three times this year, and Stamkos has managed three points, and nine shots on goal, in those three games. He will probably have a relatively high ownership rate, but this matchup is too good to pass on. 

Patrick Kane (CHI-W) – $8700

Using a player at this price is a bit precarious, especially on a back-to-back. In essence, a multi-point night is needed to reach value. With a valuation of $1400 per DK point for value, it’s about 6.5 points to exceed value, or a goal, an assist, and a couple more shots. That is a high bar.

With that said, there are only two other options above $7000 are Zach Parise (which, with Toronto on a back-to-back, is fine) and Johnny Gaudreau (I don’t think paying up for Flames is a good idea tonight).

Going into Boston, the assumption is that Patrice Bergeron’s line will probably match against the Jonathan Toews line for Chicago much more than Kane’s line. That is pretty important here, as Bergeron is on the ice for a high-danger scoring chance against roughly every six minutes. That is a very good number, especially considering how poor Boston’s defence corps is generally. Conversely, David Krejci is one for one about every 5.2 minutes. It may not seem like a huge difference, but it’s not far from one chance per game, and that small edge can mean the difference between a goal or not.

I think tonight is a night to spend more moderately at wing, but if I’m paying up, it’s for Kane.

Dustin Byfuglien (WPG-D) – $6700

It seems to have gone on fairly quietly, but Byfuglien is on a six-game point streak, with a goal, five assists, and 21 shots on goal in that stretch. Add in nine blocked shots, and it’s been an impressive little sequence put together here by Winnipeg’s top d-man.

So far this year, Byfuglien has a shots/blocked shots floor of about 2.2 DK points per game. That means, at a price of $6700, he’s recouping just under 50-percent of his cost with his floor, and that’s important when paying up for a defenceman. It’s not a worst-case scenario by any means, but it gives us an idea of what to expect even without registering a point.

On the road this year, Winnipeg’s opponent, the New York Islanders, have been poor defensively. On the season, they are averaging 12.0 high-danger scoring chances against per 60 minutes. For reference, Calgary and Ottawa are at 12.2. One of the worst offenders is someone Byfuglien should see a lot of tonight, as John Tavares himself has been on the ice for 13.4 HDSC against per 60 minutes on the road this year.

I think Winnipeg will be a bit underrated in this game tonight, and that should keep Byfuglien’s ownership rate down tonight. Considering his floor and matchup, it seems like a good night to use him.


Don’t forget to enter the $3 Sniper contest tonight on DraftKings!

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