Welcome to Stack the Deck, where we focus on the key players on the 1/18 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 Monday’s five-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
Target: Patric Hornqvist (W) – Pit (@STL) – $6,400
The Pens are the team of the night, as the matchup is everything we are looking for. In no particular order, here are some parcels that make the Pens the best team to target: The Blues are missing two of their top 4 D-men in Jay Bouwmeester and Carl Gunnarsson, they are missing three of their top 9 forwards in Steve Ott, Jaden Schwartz, and Magnus Paajarvi, and their starting goalie in Jake Allen. The Blues haven’t been bad over their last 5 games, going 3-1-1, but the underlying numbers point to some serious regression, with a score-adjusted Corsi% below 45% in 4 of their last 5, including 35% in their last 2 games. Their scoring chances for % is not much better, being out-chanced in 4 of their last 5 games as well, and relying on some serious luck to pull out their victories. In the visiting locker room, the Penguins are starting to look like the team everyone expected them to be, although the results are yet to come. In the new year, the Pens have out-chanced and won the Corsi battle against their opponents in 6 of 7 games, with only a 3-1-3 record due to some bad OT luck. This matchup is a perfect blend of two teams trending in opposite directions, with the public thrown off the scent due to the records masking the true talent level displayed in the underlying figures.
Even in cash lineups, Pens stacks are the way to go, due to the short slate and the overwhelming advantage they have against an undermanned, besieged Blues team. The first player I will insert into my lineups will be Hornqvist, followed by at least 3 others, all of which I will touch on in this rather extended stack. Hornqvist is on a tear lately, with 42 shots and 11 points in his last 10 games, good for 5.2 FPPG. He skates alongside Sidney Crosby and plays PP1, which makes him a threat on any given night, let alone this dream scenario.
Stack: Marc-Andre Fleury (G) – $7,900
**Check to confirm Fleury is starting, as he shut out the Hurricanes on Sunday and could be subject to a rest**
If Fleury is in net, he’s the play of the night. While Pittsburgh has struggled, it has not been on Fleury. He is firmly in the upper-echelon of NHL goaltenders, posting a .925 Sv% on the season after much debate over whether he could be considered elite in recent seasons. I am quite concerned that Vegas doesn’t hold the same confidence in the Penguins as I do, as the line is currently -121 in favor of the Blues. I find this to be quite misleading however, because I see the Blues top three threats of Tarasenko, Shattenkirk, and Steen, flat out not producing. The trio have combined for 5 points in their last 5 games, with no goals and 31 shots. That is awful for a team that is so decimated by injuries, and their winning ways are completely unsustainable if those specific struggles continue. Even if Jeff Zatkoff is listed as the starter instead, I will consider him strongly, given all the positive factors in his favor, minus his sky-high price on DraftKings.
Target: Carl Hagelin (W) – $3,200
In a trade over the weekend, the Penguins acquired Hagelin in exchange for David Perron and Adam Clendenning. Perron played top 6 for Pittsburgh and had a salary around $5k. Following that logic, if the Pens felt that Hagelin was talented enough to warrant two players, one of whom was a $5k player by virtue of top-6 playing time, then Hagelin should be at least equal in value, if not more. I know, I know, DFS is not a perfect representation of NHL value, but seeing anyone playing with Malkin and Kessel at only $3.2k sends chills down my spine. He fired 4 shots on net in his first game action Sunday, and as he grows more comfortable I foresee a quick rise in both his production and salary, so jump on board while you can.
Stack: Trevor Daley (D) – $3,500
Another player contingent on injury news, Daley will be a supreme value play if Kris Letang is ruled out for Monday’s contest. Currently a game-time decision, Letang missed Sunday as well, leaving the PP1 point role vacant. Daley came in and scored a goal in 24 minutes of TOI, finishing with 4.5 DKPts. Playing with 4 of the best players in the world on the PP in Crosby, Malkin, Kessel, and Hornqvist, while skating even-strength minutes with Olli Maatta, one of the best young defensemen in the league, Daley makes for a great value play on this short slate.
Target: Erik Karlsson (D) – Ott (@ SJ) – $7,400
Karlsson has the 4th most points, and the 6th most shot attempts of every player in the league. Finding such cheap exposure to Pittsburgh leaves a lot of money to spend up on the rest of your team. I can’t find a better place to spend it than San Jose, where Karlsson and Brent Burns will combine for 55+ minutes of TOI between them. If Letang is out (and Daley is still PP1) I have no qualms with putting Burns and Karlsson together in my last D and the flex spot, as their role of “defenseman” is a title, and not a description of their games. You’d be hard-pressed to find a defenseman more involved offensively than these two.
Stack: Brent Burns (D) – SJ (v. Ott) – $8,300
I project Ottawa and San Jose to be the 2nd highest paced game on the night, only behind Pit – STL. Burns and Karlsson, as fate may have it, are #1 and #2 on the slate in terms of FFPG, and #1 and #5 in salary (respectively). To capitalize on a potential shootout in the Shark Tank (Vegas projects a 5.5 o/u), you can throw in Burns and Karlsson and consider your job done, as you will have the majority of each team’s offensive output. San Jose is also the biggest favorite on the night, and as I brought up last week, in wins Burns averages 6.4 FPPG, which is good enough to pay off his salary in my book.
If you have any comments or questions regarding Monday’s NHL DFS action, you can find me on Twitter @Mattman1398. Good luck tonight, and as always:
Thanks for reading!