Welcome to Stack the Deck, where we focus on the key players in action on March 10th 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 Thursday’s 6-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
Lines and Player Matchups are gathered from LeftWingLock.com and HockeyViz.com
Target: Jonathan Huberdeau (W) – Fla (v. Ott) – $5,400
Huberdeau returned from a brief 2-week stint on the IR with a bang on Monday, putting up 2 assists and 6 DKPts in a game the Panthers tried to give away in the first period, only to claw their way back into it to force overtime before losing 5-4. They outshot the Bruins 51-32 on the night, and outchanced them 42-20. A team that looked dead offensively in recent weeks suddenly was revitalized, and Huberdeau was a main component of that. Prior to Monday’s effort, the last time the Panthers had eclipsed the 3-goal mark was February 9th, however Thursday brings a unique opportunity to score another 4 goals, as the Sens limp in to town with virtually every lineup spot in flux. 1-2-2 in their last 5, they’ve given up 16 goals (without including the shootout win as a goal) in that stretch. The saga of Mike Hoffman continues, and it’s clear that Dave Cameron just cannot figure out how to assemble his lineup outside of Smith-Stone-Pageau. Even Erik Karlsson, the premier offensive defenseman in the NHL, has struggled to produce, going pointless in four straight games despite playing 30+ minutes per night. I expect Florida to roll over Ottawa in their 4th matchup of the season.
And Huberdeau is a very underrated player not only on the Panthers, but in the NHL. Quietly on pace to pass 50 points with his injury and a paltry 5.83 sh%, Huberdeau is a great player on both ends of the ice. With his price so far below that of Barkov and even Jagr, his linemates in all situations, I like Huberdeau as a piece of Florida you should have in all formats, given the Senators defensive struggles. Florida should dominate possession, and give Huberdeau plenty of opportunities both at 5v5 and on the PP1.
Stack: Nick Bjugstad (C) – $4,700
I really like FLA1 tonight, but they are a very tough trio to play in cash games because they don’t have much of a shooting floor, and the success they’ve had over the last 10 games (with Huberdeau out) has come from a touch of shooting luck, with both Barkov and Jagr shooting at over 20%. Bjugstad, on the other hand, got the desired PP1 time alongside the line and Aaron Ekblad, and continued his blazing pace, registering 5 shots and an assist on the 3rd line alongside new acquisition Jiri Hudler. If you want an under-the-radar stacking option, and one that might work better in cash LUs, look for Bjugstad. In his last 3 games, he has attempted 10, 12, and 9 shots but has yet to score despite 11 individual scoring chances. With the FLA PP1, I don’t expect Bjugstad to be kept off the scoreboard for much longer, and even if he is, he should be able to get 6-7 shots on net and meet value. He is much safer than Barkov or Jagr, given their salaries and relative lack of a shooting floor, and possesses similar upside given his heavy shot and PP usage.
Target: Jack Eichel (C) – Buf (@ Mtl) – $6,000
Eichel has finally been unleashed on the league, and it looks wonderful. Forced to carry the burden of #1 center at the age of 19 with the long-term injury to Ryan O’Reilly, Eichel has excelled, putting up 5 points in his last 4, but more importantly shooting the lights out of the puck, with 37 shot attempts in that span. He has benefitted from playing with better linemates, and he and Sam Reinhart have shown chemistry, as Eichel’s prior linemates (Gionta, Foligno, Moulson) haven’t been bad, but looked genuinely surprised when Eichel would get them a puck through traffic or with an open look. Reinhart’s elite Hockey IQ was a main factor in the Sabres selecting him 2nd overall two drafts ago, and now with 19 goals on the season (1 back of Mr. Eichel, something no one saw coming) Reinhart has certainly shown his ability to excel in the NHL.
Montreal has looked better defensively than just a few weeks ago, when they were mired in a slump, but they still suffer from porous goaltending without Carey Price and play a relatively high paced game. I don’t expect the Sabres to dominate possession, but when the puck is on Eichel’s stick, I think he will be able to create enough offense to hit value, given his nice shooting floor and slick offensive skills.
Stack: Samson Reinhart (C) – $4,300
I would love Reinhart a lot more if he were properly positioned as a winger (given that ROR has been his center all year, yet is still listed as a wing), because I think your cash game centers should be Eichel and Galchenyuk, with Datsyuk perhaps in the flex, but for GPP’s this exact point should keep Reinhart’s ownership low. Reinhart has consistently been in the right place at the right time, and has the stats to show for it. His sh% of 15% is a bit inflated, but many of his goals come off deflections and other “dirty area” goals, he doesn’t often shoot from the outside. Per Corsica.Hockey’s “ixG” statistic, Reinhart’s expected output given his shot distance and other quality factors is just under 17 goals, so his 19 on the season is not especially unsustainable.
And I will die on this mountain, but why does hockey media insist on being boring? When he was drafted, Samson was asked what he preferred to be called, and he said “Samson.” Yet hockey people still insist on “Sam.” With such a cool name, wouldn’t you want to be known as Samson? But I digress, as call him what you want, but he is a highly talented hockey player playing alongside Jack Eichel, the next face of American hockey.
Target: Matt Dumba (D) – Min (v. Edm) – $4,500
I don’t like many defensive options on tonight’s slate, and when that happens I usually find myself gravitating towards cheaper options to get some high-upside forwards. Dumba is the rare cheap defenseman who also has a fair amount of upside. In this matchup with the Oilers, I expect the Wild to control play, and be able to jump on the Oilers inexperienced defense for some quick strikes. Dumba has an offensive mentality to his game, with great speed and a quick release. Combined with his time on the PP1 unit, I think Dumba can put up a couple of points tonight and clear value against an Edmonton team that has ridden a hot goalie in recent games.
Stack: Zach Parise (W) – $7,000
Parise is likely to be lost amongst the flashier plays around his price point. There will be some who play him solely because of the opponent, but in his last 18 games, he has 1 goal. He’s attempted 92 shots in those games, and coach Torchetti hasn’t given up on him, openly praising his work ethic and mindset. Parise has 7 assists in his last 10 games while playing roughly 20 minutes a night, so I don’t think he is a must-fade tonight. In fact, I think he is an elite GPP option, because the Oilers can give up a lot of goals in a hurry. I think you could do much worse than throwing Parise in a lineup with Dumba tonight, because he has explosive upside and should see some positive regression rather soon.
If you have any comments or questions regarding Thursday’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!