Welcome to Stack the Deck, where we focus on the key players on the 12/4 NHL DraftKings slate, and determine whether they should be played with a teammate, or ridden individually. Stacking is a common tactic in NHL, with linemates and power play units staying relatively stable throughout the course of a game, and to a smaller extent, a season. Here are a few players I am targeting on Friday’s seven-game slate, and my thoughts on who to stack with them in order to tilt the odds in your favor.
Stats are gathered from War-On-Ice.com and Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com
I personally had a good night on Thursday, however got zero production from my value plays, which kept me from taking down any tournaments. I wrote up Calle Jarnkrok and ended up taking him with Viktor Arvidsson, which netted me a total of two points. That outpaced Nino Niederreiter, who gave me a goose egg. Any reasonable Kane stack on Thursday excelled, so mine of Kane-Panarin-Keith scored a nice 20.5 points. Finally, Devan Dubnyk’s shutout and Seguin’s continued fantasy excellence combined with a first-minute goal from Alexander Edler placed me deep in the money of GPP’s.
But enough about last night, it’s over, and it’s time to set our sights on Friday’s rather ugly-looking slate, with four of the seven games featuring two teams that I don’t project to make the playoffs. Let’s start with someone I talked about Wednesday:
Target: Taylor Hall (W) – Edm (v. Dal) – $6,900
Hall has the 2nd highest shot total in the entire league, going up against a team that is amazing offensively, gives up a lot of scoring chances and shots defensively, and is playing their back-up goalie. Antti Niemi is scheduled to start for the Stars, and while not playing poorly, is a downgrade from Kari Lehtonen. Vancouver, while surprisingly being limited to only 16 shots last night against the Stars, still got two goals from their top line. I expect Hall to be the catalyst for Edmonton’s offense in this one, and at a price that is very inexpensive for the production Hall has continued to show this season, he is my favorite winger on the night.
Stack: Leon Draisaitl (C) – $4,300
You might remember me telling you to fade Draisaitl on Wednesday, and that was because he was pointless in 4 of his 5 previous games, and had a dangerous looking downward trend of both shots taken and TOI. Well, Wednesday he showed me something, firing 5 shots while skating over 20 minutes in a highly contested game. The Stars give up a lot of opportunities from the slot, and Draisaitl has shown an innate ability to make slick passes from the corners and behind the net to this area. Draisaitl has multi-assist potential in this one, and if he continues to shoot the puck, a very high floor to go with it.
Target: Rasmus Ristolainen (D) – Buf (v. Ari) – $4,800
Ristolainen was fantastic last time out, posting 3 assists on an 8.5 DKPt night. Of course, if you follow the Sabres at all, you would know this is no fluke, Risto has been outstanding all season long. Currently sitting at 17 points in 25 games, he ranks 10th among NHL defensemen, and 2nd among D-men in this slate. He is priced as the 11th defensemen on Friday night, as his price, while steadily rising, has still not come close to his production. Playing 25 minutes a night against a really bad team (hot start aside) that’s coming in as the 2nd worst against defensemen, Ristolainen is in a fabulous spot, and I will continue to roll him out, as I do every night he is on the slate.
Fade: Jack Eichel (C) – $5,000
It hurts to fade Eichel. The kid is absolutely electric, and will be a cornerstone of the Buffalo franchise for the next decade and a half. As a Sabres fan, I watch every game closely, and what I’ve seen as of late, however, gives me pause on his DFS potential. Eichel is anything but a safe play, even though he still has his PP time on the 1B unit (the Sabres split time equally between the Eichel unit and the Ryan O’Reilly unit). His inexperience has led to a recent stretch of poor defensive coverage in front of the net on goals against, and as a result he has been moved to the 3rd line, centering Brian Gionta and Jamie McGinn. This really hampers Eichel, because while he has the explosiveness and creativity to succeed, he doesn’t have any finishers or playmakers flanking him, putting him in a tough position to excel. I don’t mind stacking Sabres around Ristolainen, especially in that PP unit he skates on, but I can’t play Eichel until he shakes Gionta. The guy is a black hole offensively with Eichel, which makes me sad. And yes, I am fully prepared for a Gionta hat trick sometime soon, so fire up the snark machines before it’s too late. If you are looking for a cheap flier, save $2,100 off Eichel and take Sam Reinhart instead, as he is skating with the resurgent Evander Kane and all-around beast Ryan O’Reilly, while playing on the Sabres PP(1B).
Target: Brent Burns (D) – SJ (@ Ana) – $7,500
Burns is just the best, man. Over his last 10 games, he is averaging 2.5 blocked shots, 5 shots, and a point per game. That’s a ludicrous 6-7 points in his average game. And this isn’t off of one huge night, although he has flashed 12 point upside, as he comes into tonight’s game with 8 straight games above 4.0 DKPts. He plays a boatload of minutes as a roving defenseman, jumping into every rush he can. His massive frame gives him a howitzer from the point, and puts him in just about every single shooting lane defensively. While he is priced up with the best forwards in the league, Burns is a top option amongst any position because of his ability to play a huge workload and fill all 4 categories (goals, assists, shots, blocked shots). If you can fit him in, do it, and tonight is a prime opportunity to pay up for the man.
Stack: Joel Ward (W) – $4,600
San Jose’s PP has been a disappointment on the season, however they have really picked it up as of late. With 5 PP goals in their last 4 games, and at least one in every game, the Sharks are finally utilizing their unique skill sets with the man advantage. Burns, as mentioned before, is the perfect PP point man, and loves to take the one timer. The man who sets up shop in front of the net, Joel Ward, seems to be right at home in this sort of offense, himself posting 20 points in 24 games, with a 5-game point streak. While it is debatable whether Ward is talented himself or if his goals (mostly of the garbage variety) come from having Ovechkin (he was in Washington prior to this offseason) and Burns shooting pucks at 100 MPH from close range, what is not debatable is his effectiveness and role on the team. He plays more than 2:00 per game on the PP, and at only $4,600, I like him to come through in a big way in this California rivalry game. I will be grabbing multiple pieces of this PP1 unit, with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau both coming in at good mid-tier prices.
Target: Cory Schneider (G) – NJ (v. Phi) – $7,200
After taking last night off against the lowly Carolina Hurricanes, Schneider is getting the call for a home game against the Philadelphia Flyers. I didn’t think a matchup could get better than Carolina, but the Flyers at home comes awfully close, especially if Jakub Voracek continues to wither away on a disgustingly bad 3rd line. I don’t foresee shot volume becoming as issue, as is sometimes the case with this Devils squad, as the Flyers attempt shots at a similar rate as the Hurricanes (5th and 4th in the league, respectively), who managed to get off 31 shots against this suffocating Devils defensive system last night. If the Devils can stay out of the box, Schneider should have a rather easy go of it in this one, with a ceiling similar to that of Dubnyk’s last night.
Stack: Jacob Josefson (C) – $2,500
An injury to Travis Zajac already has him ruled out of Friday’s contest, and while there is no confirmation as to who will replace him on the 2nd line and PP2, Josefson is a good bet. He played 18 minutes on Thursday after Zajac went out, and was already listed as a D-man on PP2, so sliding him from 3rd line center to 2nd line center is the most likely scenario. At the minimum salary, he is as good of a value as you will find tonight, as he scored a goal Thursday and will be eager to impress if given another opportunity to play a top 6 role.
If you have any comments or questions regarding Friday’s NHL DFS action, find me on Twitter @Mattman1398. Good luck tonight, and as always:
Thanks for reading!
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