Welcome to Stack the Deck, where we focus on the key players on the 12/17 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 Thursday’s 11-game slate, and my thoughts on who to play with them in order to stack the deck in your favor.
Stats are gathered from War-On-Ice.com and Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com
Player Matchups are gathered from HockeyViz.com
Last night’s slate was rather boring, with Boston and Washington both winning low-scoring games. The points mostly came from depth players, so those who went a bit off the board (maybe leaving a little bit of salary on the table in order to do it *gasps*) were rewarded. I don’t play much, if at all, on these tiny slates, and my one lineup wasn’t good enough to cash in the $3 Sniper, but came close.
Tonight looks much better, so let’s get into it.
Target: Johnny Gaudreau (W) – Cgy (@ Dal) – $6,500
Johnny Hockey has taken over this team, putting up 10 points in the last 5 games. The Flames have won each of those games, and are on a 6 game streak, and they haven’t done it with defense. They are giving up 3 goals a game during this streak, and lead the league in Corsi Pace since the start of it, showing that their offensive success is definitely carrying them. This matchup against the Stars, who the Flames began their streak against with a 4-3 victory, is a great one. On DraftKings, where +/- is not a factor, the Stars are actually one of the best matchups for a team, as their free-flowing offense bodes well for opportunities going the other way, and they have mediocre goaltending behind their high-flying offense. There is no player in the league more suited for wide-open hockey than Johnny Gaudreau, who as a small, shifty player, has the creativity, hands and skating ability to take advantage of his opportunities. His recent stretch puts him at 32 points in 30 games, helping him to be tabbed as the 8th most productive winger on the slate, coming in at only the 12th highest price tag. With his plus matchup, in what projects to be the highest paced game of the night, and his recent hot streak, Gaudreau is a great place to look to save a couple thousand off the highest priced players of the night.
Sean Monahan (C) – $5,800
I will do all that I can to load up on players from this game, and Monahan is the obvious correlation to Gaudreau. Sometimes, it is better to keep it simple and not overthink things, as I tend to do with my stacks. I probably take too many stacks just because they share PP time, and don’t take into account the actual quality of the two players as individuals. This is especially applicable when it comes to D that don’t play 25+ minutes a night. A player’s success doesn’t always come on the PP, and there is nothing worse than having one or two forwards hit for multiple points, and then seeing the D you stacked with them being held off the score sheet. With the Flames top PP D being Dennis Wideman and Mark Giordano, who are great players but not great fantasy players due to their lack of peripheral scoring in shots or blocks, I will stick to Monahan tonight. On the season, the pair of Monahan and Gaudreau ranks in the top 20 in the NHL in goals contributed, or goals in which each player registered a point. The dynamic duo has been involved with 13 goals, and hooked up for one when the Flames hosted the Stars earlier this month. I expect it to happen again, and saving $4,900 off the Benn-Seguin stack makes them my favorite stack from this game.
If you were wondering who the top pair in the league was in this “connections” stat, Benn and Seguin have each contributed points on 19 Dallas goals. Against the fastest paced team in the league, they are worthy of consideration as well. Let’s explore some cheaper possibilities for your lineups on Thursday in order to fit them in.
Target: Viktor Arvidsson (W) – Nsh (v. STL) – $2,900
Arvidsson has been a very consistent producer in his time with the big club in Nashville. In fact, before the most recent game against Calgary (which is excused due to the inexplicable unpredictability of the Preds on Tuesdays. Seriously, you should see DFS twitter on those nights, it’s great), Arvidsson had 2 shots or more in each of his last 10 games, even cracking 5 twice. If Arvidsson plays top 6, where he is seeing PP time and 16 minutes or more of TOI, his 1-2 point floor is about as good as you can expect from a sub-3k player, his upside is much higher than any of the cheap options around him, and he allows you to cram 3-4 high priced players into your lineups.
Fade: Mike Ribeiro (C) – $3,300
If you are looking to stack Nashville for relatively cheap, try to get Jarnkrok and one of his wingers, which will come in at 4.5k per roster spot. That’s about as good as you can do without taking a flier on a defenseman. Ribeiro is simply not a DFS option, and stacking him just because you take Arvidsson will only lead to regret. Ribeiro has taken less than 1 shot per game, doesn’t score goals, won’t play PK minutes or even in empty net situations, and is the pure definition of pass-first. He might have a game where he can get you 5 or more DK points with a couple of assists or a fluky goal, but banking on it to come on the road, against a division rival in a very good Blues squad, is wishful thinking. Take Arvidsson for his safety relative to his cheap price, and don’t stretch it too far with a stack.
Target: Brady Skjei (D) – NYR (@ Min) – $2,500
I want Seguin and Benn tonight. To do that, and to grab some other nice stacks like Gaudreau and Monahan, I’m going to have to make some concessions. So let’s take a stroll down narrative lane, checking off nearly every narrative in the books. Skjei made his NHL debut in Tuesday night’s tilt with the Oilers, taking 2 shots and blocking one more, to put up 1.5 DKPts in 15 minutes of TOI. He has that first round pick, new car smell to him, taken 28th overall in the 2012 draft. A smooth-skating defenseman with speed aplenty, he can certainly keep up with the NHL game, and in the AHL he showed his game includes some offense too, with 11 points in 27 games. The Rangers media seemed to think he looked solid in his first NHL game, and now he gets to take a trip to Minnesota with the team.
Minnesota… Sounds familiar… ahh, yes. Skjei played his college hockey as a Golden Gopher, and grew up in the state as well. He was actually a point per game player his final year at Minnesota, which doesn’t mean a whole lot as the transition to the NHL is gigantic, but still worth pointing out. His playing status is still not 100%, as Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein each made the trip with the team to Minneapolis, but are doubtful to play. If those two are ruled out, you’d be paying the bare minimum for a talented former first round pick with a solid TOI expectation who is playing in The Show for the first time in front of his friends and family from back home. Crazier things have happened in the NHL, and I wouldn’t be shocked if the Rangers gave him a slightly longer leash than they typically would give a rookie, and entrusted him with the PP2 D slot alongside Dan Boyle, as JT Miller isn’t exactly the ideal player there. But this is all speculation on my part, as a D could get cleared to return, leaving Skjei in the press box for his homecoming. But I guess I should mention that Brady’s cousin, Jack Sadek, was drafted by the Wild in this last year’s draft. Like I said, a lot of narratives, if that’s the way you like to play.
Fade: Not Checking Pre-Game Scratches
There have been multiple instances this season where I have been burned by not being prudent with my lineups and ensuring that everyone, but especially my cheap, fill-in guys, was actually dressing for a game. It got me just last night, in fact, as Stanislav Galiev was scratched for the Capitals after being listed as a 3rd liner who was also seeing some PP2 time. I wasn’t heavily invested, but it was still a great learning opportunity. In sports, there’s a lot of uncertainty, and it requires some effort and attention to gather all the necessary information to succeed. Check Skjei’s status before puck drop, if you decide to take the plunge.
Target: Michal Neuvirth (G) – Phi (v. Van) – $7,200
With 30 teams in the NHL, it might have taken me 60 tries to guess who the goalie with the best Sv% in the NHL (qualified of course) would be on December 17th. Neuvirth has been a fine goalie, with very average career stats. I probably have a better recall of his upside than most, seeing as up until this season, his best NHL stats came as a member of the Buffalo Sabres in 2014, where his strong play singlehandedly almost cost us 30th in the NHL and one of either Jack Eichel or Connor McDavid. But this year he has been unbelievable, with a Sv% of .937 through 16 games played, and an insane .949 rate at home. This home matchup with a Canucks team that ranks 25th against Goalies (meaning they don’t score a lot and take enough shots to allow them to accrue points) bodes well for the white-hot Neuvirth.
UPDATE: It broke earlier that Steve Mason, and not Neuvirth, will get the start in net. This gives the Sedins a great matchup and Lindback at a really cheap price is as good as it gets for a cheap goalie matchup.
Stack: Shayne Gostisbehere – (D) – $4,000
Gostisbehere is coming off of back to back 6 DKPt games, and last time we checked in with him (sometime last week) he was too cheap at a mid-$3k price range. Well, $4k is still a steal. His offensive game is fantastic, and the staff in Philly trusts him enough defensively to run him out there for a regular shift. Things are going really well right now for the former Union standout, and with DraftKings seemingly uninterested in fairly pricing him, just go ahead and play him as you see fit.
If you have any comments or questions regarding Thursday’s NHL DFS action, you can find me on Twitter @Mattman1398. Good luck tonight, and as always:
Thanks for reading!
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