Welcome to Stack the Deck, where we focus on the key players in action on February 24th across the industry, 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 Wednesday’s 4-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, Corsica.Hockey, and Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com
Player Matchups are gathered from HockeyViz.com
Welcome back to today’s installment of Stack the Deck. It’s been a while, indeed. I took the last few days off as I was down in Virginia playing some golf. In February. Yes, us northerners are crazy. We come back into a rather small slate, with a couple of massive favorites according to Vegas. With only 8 teams in action, this post will be aimed towards uncovering some value, as on a slate with both Burns and Ovi this small, I think it is a good move to get to both in all formats. If the value is there, take advantage of their exceptional DFS skill sets and slot both of them in. At least, that’s what I’ll be doing. Here are some of my value-centric thoughts on Wednesday’s slate.
Target: Andrei Markov (D) – Mtl (@ Wsh) – $4,400
It’s been a long time since Markov was anything more than a GPP play, and perhaps the matchup against the Capitals relegates him to a similar fate today. However, his recent play has warranted cash consideration, averaging over 5 FPPG in his last 3 and 3.4 over his last 10, both of which deserve well above a $4.4k price tag.
With Montreal finally going back to Pacioretty Gallagher and Plekanec as a forward unit in all situations, no longer will Markov and P.K Subban have to deal with Lars Eller and Sven Andrighetto on the PP, which should actually improve Markov’s output beyond even his recent strong showing. Since 2013, Markov has had the 3rd most primary assists of any defenseman in the NHL, and is even ranked 9th in the league this year by the stat.
What holds Markov back from a DFS perspective is his shooting floor, which is not as high as the big names around him, such as Subban and Roman Josi, but the disparity is not so great as to merit over $2k of price differential. Expect MTL’s best forwards to be revitalized with them being reunited in all situations, and for Markov to grab at least one assist, even in a tough matchup against the Capitals and Vezina candidate Braden Holtby.
Fade: Alex Galchenyuk (C) – $4,500
With Pacioretty rejoining the first line, Galchenyuk is the odd man out of the top unit. This is nothing new, as Galchenyuk has been criminally under-appreciated by the entire Canadiens organization since the day he was drafted, but that is none of our concern. What is concerning is his exposure to Lars Eller and Sven Andrighetto, which comes as a result of lackluster play after a great start when he was first paired with Gallagher and Plekanec earlier this month. Galchenyuk is not cut from the same cloth as Jack Eichel, who is DFS-relevant even though he skates at 5v5 with two scrubs, because coach Therrien doesn’t go out of his way to put Galchenyuk out in good situations like Dan Bylsma does in Buffalo. Instead, Galchenyuk gets kicked to the curb when he goes through hard times. Don’t count on Galchenyuk in any format until management makes an effort to get him involved with the team’s plans, because the coach has not and will not.
Target: Scott Wilson (W) – Pit (@ Bos) – $2,800
Scott Wilson is probably one of the last names on the minds of the DFS community tonight, but that’s exactly the way we want it. The AHL’s leading goal and point-getter when he was recalled earlier this season, he really struggled in his NHL debut month, going goalless in his first 12 games. But, you see, he has played 15 games on the season, and has 3 goals. After scoring goals in 3 straight games, the Penguins are rewarding him in a big way, featuring him on the PP1 unit in place of Chris Kunitz. This is a huge leap of faith by Mike Sullivan, because it is well-documented that Kunitz has a special connection with Crosby on the ice. Wilson flashed point-per-game talent in the AHL through December, and now he is nearly the minimum salary and playing alongside the best player in the world with the man-advantage.
If you need any more reason to play him, check out this table, courtesy of the brand new Corsica.Hockey, the successor to the site most instrumental in my daily research, that being War-On-Ice.com. It contains the players most similar to Scott Wilson, determined through the factors along the top. I did my best to make it a DFS relevant chart, so I emphasized iCorsi/60 and points, the two main keys to DFS success. Of the 15 players listed, I would consider 7 of them to either be or be right outside the “great player” category. For a guy with only 15 games of experience and 4th line playing time, this shows an awful lot to be optimistic about. Keep an eye on the lines today and in the future, and as long as Wilson sees PP1 time in Pittsburgh, he should continue to flourish as a player.
Stack: Sidney Crosby (C) – $8,100
Long gone are the days where you could grab Crosby for around $7k, but if you want to be contrarian in a tournament, Crosby should be where you pivot off of Burns and Ovechkin. I like the Penguins a lot in this matchup, as they have been playing some amazing hockey since they changed coaches. At the same time, Boston has given up the 2nd most scoring chances in the month of February. The 7 teams giving up more than 30 chances per game are Colorado, Boston, Vancouver, Arizona, Calgary, Columbus, and Ottawa. That’s some awful company to keep, and quite frankly I don’t understand how Vegas favors Boston in this matchup, home game aside.
On the other bench, The Penguins trail only Dallas (no surprise) and Toronto (major surprise) in Scoring Chances For per 60 in February. Crosby is the fulcrum of everything the Penguins are able to do on offense, and even though Boston has Patrice Bergeron to put on Crosby in his return from a recent injury, he couldn’t help Boston prevent the Blue Jackets, of all teams, from scoring 6 on them last time out. Crosby should be relatively low-owned, on this small of a slate, for his talent and matchup which means I will be loading up some Crosby and Fleury-based stacks, including the PP1 and Scott Wilson as a means to save some salary.
Target: Nick Ritchie (W) – Ana (v. Buf) – $2,500
A 2014 first round draft-pick lauded for his size and skill, 2nd line minutes against the Sabres is one of the cushiest matchups you could draw up. The way I see the game unfolding, the Ducks will use their top two defensive centers on the Eichel line and the Kane-Reinhart line. With Ryan O’Reilly out, both Getzlaf and Kesler are in good matchups when broken down that way. However, the Ducks “other” top 3 line has the best matchup, as the Sabres 3rd line is Marcus Foligno, Brian Gionta, and Johan Larsson.
While Foligno can bang bodies with the best of them, both Gionta and Larsson are quite small for the league, and won’t be able to matchup with Ritchie in front of the net, and Mark Pysyk and Jake McCabe will struggle to do so as well, if Anaheim can get his line against those D. The entire Ducks line of Rickard Rakell, Ritchie, and Corey Perry is 100% in play, but Ritchie’s minimum salary and great size matchup make him the featured play of the group, even if he doesn’t see much PP time, if any. He has attempted 13 shots over his last two games, in similarly easy matchups with Edmonton and Calgary. Anaheim should handle the Sabres easily, and I think Ritchie grabs his first career NHL goal tonight.
Stack: Rickard Rakell (C) – $4,700
Rakell has lost his PP1 time alongside Perry and Getzlaf, but it hasn’t really hurt his production all that much, which is a testament to just how deep Anaheim is. Every line is a scoring threat, and both PP units have oodles of talent. Since January 1st, Rakell has 16 points in 21 games, and has meshed quite well with Corey Perry. I think every single one of Anaheim’s centers are in play, and don’t mind using 2 of the 3 in cash. But if you want to stack along with Nick Ritchie, Rakell is the obvious way to do that.
If you have any comments or questions regarding Wednesday’s NHL DFS action, or just want to say hi, you can reach out me on Twitter @Mattman1398. Good luck tonight, and as always:
Thanks for reading!