When our National Hockey League (NHL) experts have important information or updates on individual players, injuries, match-ups, positions, or other specific aspects of a sport, they share it in a Spotlight. These articles provide in-depth analysis on how to reveal hidden value in the world of daily fantasy sports. This is where you will find key advantages that can launch your lineups to the top of your contests.
FanDuel: This season, FanDuel has shaken up their scoring system in a major way. The biggest change has been the complete elimination of the previously unique +/- statistic, which should change the way you research and consider skaters. This means players on underpowered teams will now have a higher floor, and some upside will be taken away from top line skaters on strong, disciplined teams. It also may influence lineup construction, as stacking linemates becomes less important, since they will not all receive the benefits of a positive +/- simply for being on the ice together. Beyond this change, they’ve inflated the values of most counting stats, awarding 12 points for goals instead of the three they awarded last season. They bumped up the value of assists from two to eight (which it’s important to note is the same relative value to goals as they had last season), and increased shots on goal from .4 to 1.6 points, another fourfold increase. Defensemen and skaters who rack up blocks now have much more value than last season, since FanDuel added the statistic of blocked shots (awarding 1.6 points). They kept powerplay points at .5, which means they’re much less important than they were last year, so don’t get tied down to skaters on the top powerplay lines as much. Powerplay opportunities are nice, since the odds of scoring go up, but with the bonus no longer being worth a quarter of the value of an assist, it’s much less important to pick skaters who score on the powerplay. Penalty minutes are no longer awarded, so that’s one less thing to research. Finally, a short-handed goal is now worth two points, which usually will not factor in. Short handed goals are tough to predict, but it does make powerplay killers with scoring prowess more likely to be awarded. For goalies, everything is worth four-times as much, which means evaluating goalies should not change. However, it’s important to note that since skaters now have some deflated points values (in the form of the removal of +/- and the constant .5 bonus for powerplay goals), goalies may become more important on FanDuel than they were last season, even with the blocked shots statistic for skaters. The shutout bonus of eight points makes it much more important to pick a goalie on FanDuel with the talent, matchup, and defense to give him a chance to severely limit goals.
DraftKings: DraftKings scoring is equal to last season, with goals and assists worth 3 and 2 points respectively, shots on goal and blocked shots worth .5 points each, short handed points worth 1 point, shootout goals worth .2, and hat tricks worth an extra 1.5 points. Goalies are awarded 3 points for a win, .2 points per save, -1 point for a goal against, and 2 points for a shutout. Comparing this to FanDuel, goalies have the exact same weights for their scoring, but are probably slightly more valuable on DraftKings. They don’t have to compete with the powerplay bonus that skaters can receive. Instead they just miss out on the shootout goal bonus and hat trick bonus, which happen more infrequently and less predictably than powerplay goals.
On Thursday’s big 13-game slate, it’s necessary to find the high risk/high reward players that could potentially pay off for your team. Here are a few players you may want to keep an eye on tonight.
Joe Colborne (DK: $3,600 FD: $4,400): The Calgary Flames play host to the Vancouver Canucks tonight. Vancouver will be be fatigued after getting dismantled by Edmonton last night by a 6-2 final. Colborne is currently skating on the team’s second line. However, he’s playing wing on the team’s top power play line alongside Gaudreau and Monahan. Not only is he playing with top talent, but he’s averaging 15 minutes of ice time per game. His opportunities should be there this evening. Colborne has amped up his play recently, having recorded 14 points in his last 12 games. Colborne provides a great opportunity to find his way on the scoreboard tonight. Give him a look when constructing your lineup, especially at his cheap price on DraftKings.
Mike Ribeiro (DK: $3,700 FD: $4,600): The Nashville Predators will welcome the Arizona Coyotes tonight. This should be a great matchup for the Preds. Vegas currently lists the over/under at 5 with Nashville being the favorite (-235). Ribeiro has been centering the team’s second line, but logging minutes on the team’s top power play line. He has found great chemistry with linemates Filip Forsberg and Craig Smith. Although he doesn’t shoot the puck much (75 shots in 80 games), Ribeiro has always been known for his playmaking ability. He currently leads all forwards on his team in assists with a whopping of 43 this year. Look for him to improve on his +/- rating of 11 given the soft matchup. Give him a look when building your teams if you’re looking for cheap top line talent.
Jonathan Drouin (DK: $2,600 FD: $4,100): Tampa Bay travels to New Jersey to take on the Devils tonight. Drouin will finally be making his long awaited return to the team’s lineup this evening. He will be slotted back into the team’s second line, along with logging minutes on the team’s second power play line. In 19 regular season games this year, he has posted eight points (2G, 6A) and 19 shots on net. These numbers should improve over these last couple of games, considering they’re without their star player Steven Stamkos. Drouin is insanely cheap on DraftKings, which makes it much easier to stack your team with offensive firepower. Give him a look when building your teams.
The matchup between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Toronto Maple Leafs is the only game that features a 5.5 over/under on tonight’s tiny slate. Skaters from both teams should see slightly more opportunities to score tonight, as the matchup is beneficial for both sides. Columbus and Toronto rank seventh and ninth respectively in time spent on the penalty kill. Both squads also rank 18th (Columbus) and 19th (Toronto) on the penalty kill itself, while allowing the 2nd most (Columbus) and 7th most (Toronto) goals per game. Boone Jenner (DK: $5,500 FD: $6,400) leads the Blue Jackets in power play goals, has the second most points, and takes the fourth most penalties on the team. He provides plenty of different ways to score fantasy points at a reasonable price. Jenner has nine points in his last nine games and will look to reach the 50-point threshold in the last four games of the season. Brandon Dubinsky (DK: $4,700 FD: $4,300) is an even better bargain. He is the Blue Jackets’ offensive leader in time on ice per game, with only three less points than Jenner on the season. His plus-minus of -16 may be a detriment on FanDuel, but Columbus has the edge in the matchup as the slight favorites. As far as defenders go, Ryan Murray (DK: $3,900 FD: $3,000) should be considered tonight. Toronto ranks 30th against defensemen on DraftKings. He also sees time on the top line and power play, scoring the most power play points (10) amongst Blue Jackets defensemen. Toronto is missing its leading scorer, Nazem Kadri, so others will have to pick up the slack. Tyler Bozak (DK: $4,400 FD: $4,100) becomes a top target on the top line and power play unit. He leads the team among active skaters in points per game played, as Columbus ranks 27th against opposing centers on DraftKings. P.A. Parentaeu (DK: $4,500 FD: $4,800) is worth a look as well, as he ranks second on the team in points since the All-Star break, only trailing the inactive Kadri.
The Penguins travel to face the Ottawa Senators tonight, so quite a few goals are figured to be scored. It’s unusual for a team to lose one of its best players and actually play better without him. However, the Penguins have done just that since the loss of Malkin. Tonight, the Pens find themselves in a favorable matchup that is worth looking into.
Sidney Crosby (DK: $8,100 FD: $9,800) is a nice option any time the Penguins take the ice. His minutes and shots per game have gone up since the loss of Malkin. This could prove helpful tonight against a Senators team that allows the most shots per game in the NHL. Crosby is the star of both the first line and power play unit for the Penguins. Research suggests the power play to be a big factor in tonight’s game, as the Senators have trouble staying out of the penalty box.
With that being said, Nick Bonino (DK: $4,100 FD: $5,300) is also a solid play this evening. He orchestrates a power play unit of his own, the second, while also holding down the second line for the Penguins. He has arguably benefited the most from Malkin’s absence, earning the bump on both of his lines. He even fluctuates from first and second power play from time to time. Any time a lower priced player sees ice time with Crosby, it’s almost a sure fire value play. Bonino has seen his minutes and shots jump up since Malkin left as well. He has been taking advantage of the added opportunities.
Blue-liner Kris Letang (DK: $7,200 FD: $8,300) may be the best defender on tonight’s slate. Letang is pricey, but has both an ideal matchup and one of the best in the game feeding him. He plays on the first power play with Crosby and the Senators get penalized a great deal. Letang has been playing a lot more minutes lately (nearly 30), and has been firing at a clip of over four shots per game. He has tremendous upside and could be a differentiator for you tonight.
Whenever two of the NHL’s worst defenses play it sets up a nice day for daily fantasy. Calgary allows the most goals per game in the NHL at 3.18, and Edmonton the fifth most at 2.94. The issue, as with all hockey DFS, is that it’s hard to predict scoring in these games. Through extensive statistical research, we believe we have found the right skaters for you this evening.
Neither one of these teams is penalized too much so the power play, while still important, is not an end-all-be-all requirement in this one. Joe Colborne (DK: $3,300 FD: $4,000) Is a nice play on the Calgary side. He has a nice low price and anchors the second line for the Flames. He has being seeing more ice time as of late, and is putting up better numbers as well. He is also on the first power play unit, so any penalty minutes will at least give him some chances to find the net. His price is what makes him appealing. He is playing in a game where he has potential, on a slate that has a lot of studs worth paying for.
With that being said, Calgary’s league-worst goals against just goes up in away games. This gives Connor McDavid (DK: $7,200 FD: $7,300) a chance to shine tonight. McDavid’s injury caused him to sit a good portion of the year, but man has he been electric upon his return. He orchestrates both the first line and power play for the oilers, while amassing just under 20 minutes of ice time per night. He shoots the puck nearly 2.5 times per game and has an uncanny knack for finding open teammates. We have seen him light up even the best of the NHL, so tonight, in a tasty matchup, only his price tag keeps him from must-have status.
Another value play from this game is the Oilers Nail Yakupov (DK: $3,900 FD:$3,100). He sees time on both the second and third lines for the Oilers, and occasionally makes some power play appearances. His ice time hovers around 15 minutes, but the key here is he finds a way to produce. He can easily be overlooked because of his lack of minutes, but his production in that time is steady. He averages an assist per 60 minutes played on the year, but keep in mind he was slowed by an injury for some time. His price is ideal on a slate like tonight’s, so give him a look when making your lineup.