Welcome to Stack the Deck, where we focus on the key players on the 12/26 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 Saturday’s 9-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
Tuesday was a crazy night that I ended up missing out on, as I shut it down for the night early in the 3rd period of the Tampa Bay game. With 100% exposure to Bishop in goal and nearly as much Stamkos, the Lightning embarrassed themselves to the point I couldn’t watch any more hockey. Bishop’s numbers were hurt by the 19 minutes Tampa spent on the PP, and Stamkos was horrible, fanning on multiple one-timers and only taking 5 shots in TWELVE minutes of PP TOI. And yes, Vancouver won 2-1 although they took 10 penalties, so my night was pretty much over by 9:30.
Of course this means I missed out on the Gaudreau show that took place in the later game between the Flames and Jets. I loved Gaudreau in the spot against the Jets, and there were a plethora of similarities between him and Taylor Hall, who the night before had lit up the Jets for 3 assists and 8.5 DKPts. Little did I know, Gaudreau had even more to offer. A hat trick later, Gaudreau pulled off a 14 DKPt night, his 3rd game of 10+ points in only 6 home games this month. It is safe to say that the next time Gaudreau plays at home, I will be loading up on him at his depressed salary. Which is Sunday, against Hall and the Oilers. Yes, I am a tiny bit excited.
Before we get to Sunday, however, we have to deal with Saturday’s slate, where every team is coming off at least 3 days’ rest, and some (like the Sabres) an entire week.
Target: Alex Ovechkin (W) – Was (v. Mon) – $8,800
While there are multiple superstars in play on a nightly basis, I always find myself gravitating towards Ovi. I’ve said it before, but Ovi is as good a fit for DFS as any player in any sport. He is a generational talent hell-bent on shooting the puck, and creates opportunities at a sensational pace. His iCorsi/60, a measure of how many shots he attempts relative to his ice-time, is a full 5.8 attempts per 60 minutes better than the 2nd player, Tyler Seguin. Go down the list another 5.8, it goes all the way down to Phil Kessel in 32nd, showing just how much better Ovechkin is at shooting the puck than every other player in the NHL. Shots aren’t the only part of DFS, but on DraftKings, with no PIM or +/-, they are key to lineup construction, given the relative variance in G, A, and Blocks. The Capitals also have a fantastic matchup with the Canadiens, who have won exactly 1 of their last 10 games. They have always been an average to below-average possession team, and now without Carey Price, last season’s Hart winner and only the 3rd goalie since 1960 to be voted MVP, they are struggling mightily.
Stack: Braden Holtby (G) – $8,200
I will be the first to admit that spending this much for a goalie is really difficult. Goaltending is incredibly fluky, but I can’t find anyone that I am comfortable with on the cheaper end, and I’d rather pay the extra few hundred on anyone else to get to Holtby. I think Domingue is in play, due to his upside going against the possession-dominant Kings, but I also know that he is a heavy underdog, and the 3 points for a win are crucial to a lineup. I will take Holtby and know that I need to find value elsewhere, but the best goalie in the NHL this season has only 5 losses in 26 starts, and gets a juicy matchup against the punchless Canadiens. I don’t love it, but Holtby as a key element to a plethora of Capitals stacks is a great option if you can find the value to do so.
Target: Lee Stempniak (W) – NJ (@Car) – $4,200
Here’s three players that relate to Stempniak, but how so? Sidney Crosby, P.K Subban, Henrik Zetterberg. They are all much more popular, and as a result more expensive by $2-3k, but did you know Stempniak is averaging the same DKPts/G as those stars? He flies under the radar as a new addition in New Jersey, but has been a great pickup for the Devils, with 26 points to date and on pace for a 60 point season. For only $4,200 and in a great matchup against the Hurricanes, I like the Devils first line as a really cheap source of steady production.
Stack: John Moore (D) – $2,900
Until the break Damon Severson had been playing PP1 for the Devils, but failed to contribute, with only 2 PP points on the season. Moore is the next man up, slated to man the PP1 unit with the Stempniak line and Jacob Josefson. He has been logging the main minutes for the Devils, even without the PP responsibilities, at over 20 min TOI per game on the season, which should only go up with the PP time. Moore is known as a big body with excellent skating and a good shot, but I would like to see him a bit more involved offensively, as he only averages 1.5 shots/G. He could certainly do that now given the opportunity. As the 12th best PP in the league going against the 3rd worst in Carolina, I think the first line could do their damage with the man advantage, and at $2.9k Moore gives us great exposure to the NJ PP at a very low price point.
Target: Sam Reinhart (C) – Buf (@Bos) – $3,400
In honor of the World Juniors beginning on Saturday, let’s rewind to last years’ tournament. In a stacked field featuring Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel, Connor McDavid, Max Domi, and dozens of other future NHLers, the star that led the way was Samson Reinhart. He tied for the tournament lead in both goals and points, notching the Gold Medal GWG in the process. One year later, Reinhart has taken his outstanding play into the NHL, now skating in the Sabres top 6 alongside Ryan O’Reilly. During his brief 9-game NHL stint to begin last season, Reinhart looked weaker and slower than his NHL counterparts, and rightfully so as an 18 year old. He put a considerable effort into his fitness and skating from all accounts, and have improved them to the point where combined with his elite playmaking, net presence, and hockey IQ, he is already on pace for a 20 goal 40 point season. He is underpriced for his production, especially when you consider that he has improved on his 2.2 season-long DKPt/G by going for 2.7 per game in his last 10 and points in his last 2 games.
Stack: Ryan O’Reilly (W) – $5,800
ROR has been a revelation for the Sabres, and I am sure Reinhart’s ascension has had a lot to do with playing with such a talented player for most of the season, however it definitely goes both ways, as Reinhart’s Corsi and relative Corsi figures are both higher than O’Reilly’s very strong metrics. I don’t feel too strongly about O’Reilly in this matchup, as I am not sure who Patrice Bergeron will be deployed against, given Jack Eichel’s struggles. I will be carefully monitoring the situation, but for right now I would treat Reinhart as a value play to help you fit in another stack, and play O’Reilly if his salary fits in with the W or Flex position you fill last.
I hope you had a very merry Christmas, or whatever Holiday you choose to celebrate. I am ready to get back into the NHL swing, so let’s have a great night in our return to the ice.
If you have any comments or questions regarding Saturday’s NHL DFS action, you can find me on Twitter @Mattman1398. Good luck tonight, and as always:
Thanks for reading!
Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison / Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison/3484734701