Cheap Players for Daily Fantasy Hockey

by Michael Clifford on February 11, 2016

Some cheap, and expensive, options for tonight's slate on DraftKings.

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Welcome back for another round of bargain bin, and top-end, options for DraftKings’ Thursday NHL slate.

Last week was a mixed-bag of results: for the cheap options, Phillip Danault was a bust with 0.5 DraftKings points, while Ben Hutton finished a bit under value at 1.5. Sven Baertschi had a very solid night providing three DK points for a $3000 salary. For the expensive options, Patrice Bergeron was a bust providing just 2.5 points, while Taylor Hall was better with four points, and Erik Karlsson was very solid at six points overall for $7400.

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For those playing DraftKings tonight, don’t forget to jump into the $3, $30 000 guaranteed prize pool Sniper contest tonight! The player selection screen is right through this link, and details for the contest are below:

  • $30 000 guaranteed in prizes, with a $2000 top prize. $3 to enter, a maximum of 11 500 total entries.
  • Of those 11 500 entries, the top 2302 will pay out.
  • Select two centres, three wingers, two defencemen, a goalie, and a utility skater.

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As always, there will be a skater provided for each position that is priced at $3000 or less. There will also be a player at each forward position priced at $7000 or more, and the defenceman at $6000 or more.

Cheap Options

Mikhail Grigorenko (COL-C) – $2900

Quite often, the bargain options that are viable are only viable because of a change in situation. These are typically third and fourth liners that have been moved to a new line, and the pricing hasn’t caught up just yet. This is the situation for Grigorenko.

For a few games now, Grigorenko has been playing with Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene. Small sample size alert, but as a trio, according to Puckalytics.com, they actually are above break-even in shot attempt differential (50.4-percent). In a vacuum, that’s not great, but considering their team, it’s excellent. It should be noted that players should play well with MacKinnon/Duchene, but it’s equally important to note that in the sample, Grigorenko isn’t dragging them down.

Going into Ottawa, a team on a back-to-back and probably starting Andrew Hammond, is a pretty good spot for this team. Grigorenko is a solid bargain bin option at centre tonight for cash games.

Iiro Pakarinen (EDM-W) – $2700

A couple of things to be said out of the gate here. First, I am not a fan of the cheap wing options tonight. In fact, with options like Hall, Kane, Hoffman, Simmonds, and Toffoli all in reasonable matchups, I would probably pay up for wingers tonight. Also, Pakarinen played his last shift last game on the third line for Edmonton, though the Oilers were desperate for a goal and were pretty much running two lines for the last seven or eight minutes.

With all that said, Pakarinen is much like Grigorenko in that he had (has) a plush lineup spot playing on a line with Taylor Hall and Leon Draisaitl. There is nothing really special about Pakarinen as a player; he has seven even-strength points in 61 career NHL games, and isn’t a highly-touted prospect. This is all about his situation.

Edmonton is at home to Toronto tonight, and without Tyler Bozak, James van Riemsdyk, and now Dion Phaneuf, it’s safe to say it’s a depleted lineup. There will be a lot of Edmonton ownership, but I can’t imagine Pakarinen’s being very high. Keep an eye on the morning skate, though, to make sure he’s still on Hall’s line.

Joe Morrow (BOS-D) – $2700

To round out our “new situation” trio is Joe Morrow. For the last few games, he’s been lining up as Zdeno Chara’s partner on Boston’s second power play unit. It should be noted the top unit (Bergeron, Krug, etc.) usually get the biggest chunk of time, but in their situation tonight, they should still get their chances.

Winnipeg, Boston’s opponent tonight, has been a solid team to pick against when it comes to special teams, particularly their penalty killing. They have the most times short-handed this year, and the most minor penalties taken. They also are ranked 28th in high-danger chances against per 60 minutes while short-handed. Combine those two elements, and opposing power plays have had a field day this season.

Again, there’s nothing real special about Morrow. He is getting a good power play opportunity, though, and he is in as good a power play matchup as there is in the NHL.

Expensive Options

Claude Giroux (PHI-C) – $7000

There are three centres that I think warrant consideration tonight: Giroux, Joe Pavelski, and Patrice Bergeron. I am excluding Bergeron because I really try to avoid recommending two players from the same team in this column, and I worry that Pavelski will see a lot of the Mark GiordanoT.J. Brodie pairing against Calgary. That leaves Giroux.

Since the start of the 2013 season, when Giroux, Jakub Voracek, and Wayne Simmonds are skating together at five-on-five (a sample of over 230 minutes), they have a higher goals for per 60 minutes (2.60), and more shot attempts per 60 minutes (68.1) than when they are playing apart from each other on any other line. The line has looked excellent since being united a couple weeks ago for the Flyers.

While the wins and losses don’t show it, Buffalo has been a better defensive team at home (9.0 high-danger chances against per 60 minutes) than on the road (11.4). While teams are generally better at home, the public may look at Buffalo’s home/road win differential (nine and 12, respectively) and think this team is bucking the trend. They are not. I expect the Philadelphia top line to get their chances tonight, and hopefully they convert them.

Patrick Kane (CHI-W) – $8600

As mentioned earlier, this seems like a good night to pay up on the wing. Kane has been disappointing at times lately, but if Artemi Panarin is back in the lineup, he seems to be a good option tonight.

Chicago hosts the Stars, and that should mean wide-open hockey (which is good for DraftKings). Assuming the Toews line is matched against the Seguin line, that leaves Kane and company to play against the depth of the Stars. Without Jason Spezza, the second and third line centres for Dallas look like Cody Eakin and Mattias Janmark. So far this year, Eakin has been on the ice for more high-danger chances per 60 minutes than any other Dallas centre. If that is the matchup that Kane gets, his line should get their chances.

Kane carries a hefty price tag, and he hasn’t been as productive of late as he was earlier. All the same, it looks like he will get good in-game matchups. As mentioned, just keep an eye on Panarin’s status.

***UPDATE: Panarin is indeed out tonight, so I have no problem pivoting off of Kane to Gaudreau. 

Erik Karlsson (OTT-D) – $7600

Avoiding teams and players on a back-to-back is generally good practice. With that said, the Senators are hosting the Avalanche, and that is one of the few teams that can’t be avoided for fantasy purposes: Colorado is tied for 26th in the NHL for high-danger scoring chances against per 60 minutes so far this year at five-on-five, with Edmonton, trailing only Dallas and Vancouver.

So far in 2016, Karlsson has two goals and 17 assists in 17 games. That’s very impressive. In nine of those 17 games, or over half, Karlsson has registered at least four shots on goal, averaging 3.4 shots per game over that span. Add in a couple blocked shots a game, and Karlsson is averaging 2.73 DK points per game this calendar year in just shots/blocked shots alone. That’s half his value recovered before registering a point. It seems reasonably likely he gets one in this game tonight, even on a back-to-back.

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Don’t forget to jump into the $3 entry Sniper contest on DraftKings tonight. Just follow this link to get to the player selection screen.

Some stats courtesy of Hockey Reference, Hockey Analysis, War On Ice, and Puckalytics. Line combinations from Dobber’s Frozen Pool