Welcome to Stack the Deck, where we focus on the key players on the 12/8 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 Tuesday’s nine-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
It’s been a while since I’ve posted, with Saturday featuring my last write-up here at XN Sports. But Saturday was another solid day of NHL action, as I had one lineup hit 22nd out of 9,583 in the $3 Sniper on DraftKings, and was a bounce away from hitting top 5, as Brent Burns and Joel Ward (who I had written up a day early it seems, with them featured in the Friday column) came oh-so-close to tying the game in the dying seconds of the last game of the night.
After taking last night off, throwing in one lineup to a 3-game slate: a Sabres team stack with Josi, MacKinnon, and Varlamov (which did just well enough to min cash), I am excited to dive in to this much bigger and juicier slate. Let’s get to the featured stack of the night.
Target: Aaron Ekblad (D) – FLA (v. Ott) – $4,800
The Senators extremely lucky, shooting percentage aided, offensive explosion came to a screeching halt on Sunday, with King Henrik shutting them down in an easy 4-1 victory for the Rangers. The Senators have played at a continually high pace over the last 3 weeks, playing at a pace (as determined using Corsi For+Against/60 min) 2nd to only the Dallas Stars (more on them later). I love the Panthers at home in a matchup against this squad, as not only do they have the pace we are looking for, but they also lead the league in scoring chances allowed per 60. This backs up the DvP vs. the D position, as they are dead last in allowing defensive fantasy points. Ekblad, the #1 pick in the 2014 Draft, is already one of the top defensemen in the entire league. It’s a shame he goes vastly underappreciated in the struggling Miami hockey market.
Of all players with more than 10 games played this season, Ekblad has the 2nd highest relative Corsi %, with his team being 26 shot attempts per 60 minutes better with him than when he is off the ice. Seeing as the Senators’ play at a place of 110 shot attempts per 60, 26 per 60 is a substantial difference for a single player to make. What’s even better is that Ekblad also gets PP1 time, which is not factored into these Corsi ratings. He has great offensive upside in any matchup, evidenced by his goal and assist last time out against the Devils, who play at the slowest pace and allow the least scoring chances per game. Every Panther is in play for me on Tuesday, and I will start on Ekblad and the PP1, as they are all solid values, and use their salary savings to get some of the higher end options on the slate.
Stack: Jaromir Jagr (W) – $5,300
Long live Jagr. The man is a machine, producing quality numbers in his age-43 season. For reference, Jagr had 555 points in the NHL before Aaron Ekblad was born. I don’t know what’s more ridiculous: that stat, or that I actually took the time to find Ekblad’s birthday, tally the points in Jagr’s season before that day, and total it with the prior years. Armed with this knowledge (and with the knowledge that I indeed do not have a life), it is safe to assume that Jagr’s team leading 2.72 Pts/60 figure is no fluke, and he is indeed a fabulous play in this great matchup. Also, Aaron Ekblad wears #5, and has 5 goals on the season, clearly in tribute to Jagr. Numbers are fun.
Target: Shayne Gostisbehere (D) – Phi (v. NYI) – $3,500
I just.. I can’t.. Look, here’s the deal. I feel dirty recommending Gostisbehere as a play. He should come pre-loaded into your lineups. But that’s why I’m here. Here’s what I wrote up on Gostisbehere on Saturday. And yes, he had an assist in that one, so make it 6 of 7 games.
Coming out of Union College in 2014 (after his +7 performance in the National Championship game) and signing with the Flyers, Gostisbehere got a late start due to a torn ACL that forced him to miss most of last season. Well, he’s healthy now, and is here to stay. With points in 5 of his last 6 games playing on the PP1 unit, Gostisbehere at a bargain price is a great play.
Note: His price did increase since Saturday. By $100, up to $3,500. Against a decent Islanders club, he is not a must-play. But if you like Seguin, if you like Kane, if you like Ovechkin, here is your easiest opportunity to roster those guys. You can even get two of them, without too much hesitation, if you don’t stack them with their teammates (with one exception, which we will also get to).
Fade: Jakub Voracek (W) – $5,600
The NHL Twitter community celebrated early Monday where reports came out of Philly that Voracek was to be reunited with Giroux on the Flyers top line. Alas, it was only brief excitement, as after practice Voracek himself said that he didn’t expect to play there on Tuesday, and that he expected to be in his bottom 6 role, where he toils away with the worst of what the NHL has to offer. (Seriously, you will love this: VandeVelde, Bellemare, Umberger, Laughton, White. Which one does not belong? Hint: All of them, on an NHL roster)
Voracek skated on the third line at morning skate Tuesday, so I don’t expect Voracek to be in the best position to flash his immense upside come game-time. I don’t mind riding Gost alone in this situation, until Dave Hakstol figures out how to use his most talented players. It must be something in the air over there in Philadelphia that makes coaches lose their minds.
Target: Tyler Seguin (C) – Dal (v. Car) – $8,700
Finally home after a long 4-game road trip in Canada (and Minnesota, which might as well be), Seguin gets a meatball in the first game back. Carolina is a decent team, as they are 7th in score-adjusted Corsi%, and really just suffer from atrocious goaltending. The main culprit, Cam Ward, is expected to get the start, and that sound you hear is me, trying to get Tyler Seguin into my lineups multiple times. Cam Ward has a sub .900 Sv% on the road, and the Stars shoot at an 11% clip at home. Tyler Seguin is coming off of two games where he combined for 15 shots. I honestly think he could crack 10 shots in this game, and that Cam Ward doesn’t stand a chance. Tied for 2nd in the NHL points race, Seguin is falling behind Patrick Kane (currently trailing by 7 points), but by the end of Tuesday’s actions, I expect that gap to be within 5.
Stack: Valeri Nichushkin (W) – $3,400
Jamie Benn is always a nice option to pair with Seguin. I personally never do so, just because Benn is lacking in his floor. For nearly the same price as Seguin, Benn just doesn’t generate shots (and therefore fantasy points) the way Seguin does. While the points are normally there, on nights where his line can’t score, Benn can singlehandedly tank a lineup with a 1-2 DK point effort. I’d rather get an Ovechkin or Kane share for just a bit more, and correlate with Seguin elsewhere.
And lucky for us, Nichushkin looks to have stuck on the Stars top line. While it’s been a revolving door next to Benn-Seguin, with Eakin, Sharp, and Spezza, among others, taking turns up on line 1, it looks like Nichushkin will be there for the time being. Only 21 years of age, Nichushkin is a prototypically-sized power forward with great hands and puck presence, and he put that on display in scoring a really sweet breakaway goal the other night in Vancouver. Given the chance to play with the big boys, I love Nichushkin’s potential for an offensive explosion against a team in Carolina that couldn’t stop a puck if their lives depended on it.
Target: Martin Jones (G) – SJ (@ Cgy) – $7,100
I love paying down in net tonight, because of the top-tier options across the board. I am intrigued by Sparks going up against New Jersey at $6.3k, but due to concerns of shot volume, and the Devils’ pesky ability to put up 3 goals on 20 shots, I refuse to play any goalie in a Devils game as my primary goalie. I will have shares of him, however. Martin Jones is where I will go to save a few bucks, coming off of 4 games of his last 6 with 2 or less GA. The two games outside of that, he gave up 4 apiece to the Ducks and Blackhawks. The Flames are not either of those teams, and give Jones huge upside tonight. Over the last 3 weeks, Calgary has taken the 4th most shots in the league per game, and I am of the belief that Martin Jones, and his .923 Sv%, will have a great night tonight.
Stack: Joonas Donskoi (W) – $2,900
I love Burns in this situation, as well as the entire PP1 unit for the Sharks, but it is tough to fit all of those players in. To get a piece of this action, look at Donskoi. He is a fixture in the Sharks top 6, skating next to Thornton and Pavelksi for a while, but is now with Ward and Marleau. He receives PP2 time as well, putting him in a prime position to put up enough points to make value tonight.
2:30 PM UPDATE: Logan Couture looks like he might play tonight. If he does play it bumps Donskoi out of the top 6 and more than likely erases any value he has.
Calle Jarnkrok is a great option for 2.9k, as he looks to be centering the Preds first line between Forsberg and Neal, both outstanding shot generators. As always, these were last night’s lines in a W for NSH, so it could change — but I don’t expect it to.
If you have any comments or questions regarding Tuesday’s NHL DFS action, find me on Twitter @Mattman1398. Good luck tonight, and as always:
Thanks for reading!