As the DFS Hockey season has progressed, I have been testing and re-testing different strategies to see which ones work consistently and which prove to be too inconsistent or unreliable. Originally, I was in favor of two-player mini-stacks and against larger stacks, but recently I have become interested in three-player stacks and super stacks of four players or more.
After testing the super-stack strategy, I return to my original belief that stacks of more than two players doesn’t hold up over the long haul. Like any strategy, there will be nights where the match up or certain circumstances justify using a four or five player stack, but what I have found is that it is too much of a guessing game and too unreliable to consistently cash. If you stack four or more players from one team or in one game then you absolutely must pick the right game and there is the problem. The Boston Bruins allow their fair share of goals while scoring a lot of goals and I super-stacked them twice in the last 10 days, neither lineup cashed. There will be nights where the super-stack is a smart play, but going forward I suggest you shelve it except for that one night a month when the stars align.
Now, to the picks for Saturday, March 12.
There are a lot of affordable plays tonight, but there aren’t many studs playing like they deserve to top of the salary scale choices. Alex Ovechkin’s ($18,600) salary has been dropping; Tyler Seguin ($16,800) and Jamie Benn ($16,400) have both been disappointing recently, while Joe Pavelski ($15,500) and Brent Burns ($16,800) are the only top 15 scorers over the last two weeks who are currently in the top 15 in salary and on tonight’s slate of games.
What that means is that you can afford to start mid-level salary plays in good match ups if recent performance justifies the start, but you don’t have to start the low-salary risks so that you can afford the big-ticket plays. You can mix a few bargains while having the bulk of your roster be mid-range, consistent plays.
Lets start with the affordables and move on to the bargains.
Connor McDavid, Center: ($14,700)
Opponent: Arizona Coyotes. Stats: 4 Goals – 3 Assists – 20 Shots on Goals = 8 Games Played
McDavid is a player on the verge of being a league elite while still remaining affordable in a friendly match up.
Blake Wheeler, Wing: $14,000
Opponent: Colorado Avalanche. Stats: 1 Goal – 2 Assists – 23 SOG = 7 GP
Wheeler isn’t a golden match up but he is a talented player and a tough winger for any team to defend against. He hasn’t performed especially well recently, but the shots on goal are there while the Avalanche are a middle of the road match up. I wouldn’t normally recommend Wheeler, but tonight is a night where you can afford to reach on him and I like a Wheeler/Mark Scheifele mini-stack.
Nathan MacKinnon, Center: ($13,900).
Opponent: Winnipeg Jets. Stats: 2 Goals – 3 assists – 21 SOG = 6 GP
MacKinnon isn’t a sub $9,000 bargain, but he is an affordable salary who has been performing reasonably well going up against a goal-friendly Jets defense.
Shea Weber, Defenseman: $12,700
Opponent: Vancouver Canucks. Stats: 2 Goals – 4 Assists – 14 SOG = 5 GP
Weber has been on a scoring streak, especially for a defenseman, while remaining at a reasonable salary. The Canucks aren’t a prime match up but they aren’t a defensive unit to run from either.
Drew Doughty, Defenseman: $13,000
Opponent: New Jersey Devils. Stats: 2 Goals – 3 Assists – 12 SOG = 6 GP
He has scored well recently and tonight he has one of the best match ups of the evening. Doughty is averaging two shots on goal per game over the last six games, which isn’t as many as I would like but it doesn’t scare me off.
Alex Galchenyuk, Center: $10,600
Opponent: Minnesota Wild
Stats: 9 Goals – 1 Assists – 20 SOG = 7 GP
Galchenyuk is the hottest player in hockey over the last fourteen days. The Wild are a middle of the road match up, but while he is scoring you have to start him. It’s pretty simple.
Mark Scheifele, Center: $11,700
Opponent: Colorado Avalanche. Stats: 6 Goals – 3 Assists – 22 SOG = 7 GP
Like Galchenyuk, both names are hard to spell, difficult to pronounce and almost impossible not to start. Both are performing at the highest level at an affordable salary.
Brayden Schenn, Center: $11,100
Opponent: Florida Panthers. Stats: 4 Goals – 4 Assists – 18 SOG = 5 GP
Schenn justifies a start on recent performance alone and then when you add his affordable salary and a good match up he becomes a must-start puck to pick on tonight’s slate.
Zach Smith, Center: $8,200
Opponent: Toronto Maple Leafs. Stats: 5 Goals – 3 Assists – 20 SOG = 7 GP
He has been my go-to bargain and his recent performance makes him that much more of a steal. I can’t see benching him at that kind of salary and what it allows me to afford in other areas. He is a must-start until the performance flat lines or his salary increases in to the $10,000 neighborhood. The fact that he faces the Maple Leafs is just a bonus.
Tanner Pearson, Wing: $7,400
Opponent: New Jersey Devils. Stats: 4 Goals – 2 Assists – 8 SOG = 6 GP
His recent performance puts him on the radar, the match up makes him tempting and the salary slams it home as a must-start play. I would like to see more shots on goal, but the other factors are too overwhelmingly positive to scare me off.
Devante Smith-Pelly, Wing: $6,000
Opponent: Los Angeles Kings. Stats: 4 Goals – 1 Assist – 7 SOG = 5 GP
Like Pearson, Smith-Pelly’s recent performance is too good to ignore at such a bargain salary. The shots on goal are a little low for my liking and the match up against the Kings is a bad one, but at $6,000 he allows you to do a lot of other things that far exceed any of these concerns.
Radko Gudas, Defenseman: $7,700
Opponent: Florida Panthers. Stats: 2 Goals – 3 Assists – 15 SOG = 5 GP
Gudas’ recent scoring streak as a defenseman justifies a start at over a $10,000 salary, but at $7,700 he is a steal. I like a multiple of defenseman on the slate, so much so that I would consider starting one or two at the utility position and Gudas is one of the main reasons for that approach tonight.
Ottawa Senators $15,800 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
There is a lot to like about the Senators tonight. The Toronto Maple Leafs are sixth in shots on goal while they are 24th in goals scored over the previous nine games. The Senators are first in shots on goal allowed and an overwhelming favorite to get the win. This means that the Senators Team G is going to make a lot of saves and the Maple Leafs are likely going to struggle to score, but the negative is that the Senators are the worst team in hockey over the last nine games in goals allowed. There is a good chance for a big night for the Senators, but there is a chance it could be ugly too. It’s a salary that makes it worth the shot.
Edmonton Oilers $13,900 vs. Arizona Coyotes
The Coyotes have averaged fewer than two goals per game while averaging 30 shots on goal per game over their last eight games. The Oilers have allowed an average of 31 shots on goal per game over their previous 10. Its good strategy to chase the win and the easy five points but this game looks to be a toss up so there is some risk there. The Oilers salary is a bargain and there is a good chance that they have a stat line something like one goal allowed, 28 saves and a win. At $13,900 that’s pretty low risk with a pretty high reward.