NHL Puck Picks

When I started the Daily Fantasy Hockey season I advised the readers on a variety of different strategies, but with each column I write later in the season the more I find that the bargains are the focus of my lineup building. The star players are expensive and most of them aren’t producing like you expect for the dollars they cost. The bargains however, while they aren’t as consistent as the “big-ticket” plays they are as good or better when they are on their game.

Early, I thought you should target a few bargains so that you could afford the “big-ticket” stars, but now I find that I like too many bargains and not enough stars. I haven’t been overly excited about starting Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Kane, Tyler Seguin or Jamie Benn in quite some time.

My most successful strategy has been about the contests I participate in rather than the lineups I compose. I have been using a multi-entry strategy more in March than I ever used before and it is because there are so many viable bargains every night. I can’t bring myself to leave $5,000-$7,000 in salary on my cap when I enter my final lineup, but I can join two or three contests and own shares of all of the viable bargains. That’s where we will start today.

BARGAINS

When I am researching I like to look at who is scoring well in the previous seven days and 14 days. Seven-day sample sizes are a snapshot of data tell you who is hot right now while 14 days gives you a better sense of who is more reliable because they have played well longer. Daily Fantasy sports are a “what have you done for me lately” game and a small sample size provides plenty of justification to start a player.

There are a lot of extremely affordable options and here are the best of them over the previous seven day and 14 day periods.

* Seven-Day Stars *

Joel Ward (Sharks) Winger $8,200

Opponent: vs. St Louis Blues

Stats: 3 Goals – 1 Assist – 11 Shots on Goal = 4 Games Played

Almost three shots and a point per game average has Ward as a viable start. The Blues are a middle-of-the-pack opponent, but the shots on goal and the production at that salary makes Ward an extremely attractive start tonight.

Nino Niederreiter (Wild) Winger $8,800

Opponent: Los Angeles Kings

Stats: 3 Goals – 2 Assists – 11 SOG = 4 GP

Like Ward, Niederreiter is taking shots, scoring points and he is a bargain at under $9,000. The Kings are allowing just over two goals per game in their last 10 making it a tough match up while the Wild are 10th in goals scored over that same period. Something has to give, but Niederreiter is a viable, affordable start.

Jamie McGinn (Ducks) Winger $7,900

Opponent: Montreal Canadiens

Stats: 3 Goals – 7 SOG = 3 GP

A goal per game is nice to see while the shots on goal are a little low and he hasn’t had an assist. The price and the match up make McGinn intriguing, but the shots on goal and lack of assists diminish the excitement. His production makes him an option more than a must-start, but I love the low salary.

* 14-Day Sample Stars *

The extra seven days of sample creates more confidence that the performance is reliable rather than a fluke or based on match ups.

Antoine Vermette (Coyotes) Center $7,800

Opponent: Edmonton Oilers

Stats: 4 Goals – 2 Assists – 10 SOG = 6 GP

Vermette is my favorite bargain play of the night. He has five goals and five assists in nine games, he has one of the better match ups of the night and he is an extremely affordable price. The Coyotes aren’t scoring as a team (20 goals in 9 games played), but Vermette is a bargain that is producing.

Jakob Silfverberg (Ducks) Winger $9,800

Opponent: Montreal Canadiens

Stats: 4 Goals – 2 Assists – 23 SOG = 6 GP

The Canadiens are a friendly match up and I really like Silfverberg tonight. A point per game and almost four shots on goal per game over the last two weeks is a sample size and kind of production are all great factors making Silfverberg a prime bargain start tonight. The price isn’t as low as most of the bargains on this list, but its certainly affordable.

Cody Eakin (Stars) Center $7,500

Opponent: Chicago Blackhawks

Stats: 4 Goals – 4 Assists – 7 SOG = 6 GP

I hate the extremely low shots on goal number but I love the goals and assists and especially the salary. The Stars have a lot of talent on the roster, which makes it easier to overlook the lack of shots on goal.

Zach Bogosian (Sabres) Defense $9,400

Opponent: Carolina Hurricanes

Stats: 2 Goals – 15 SOG = 3 GP

Bogosian is hardly lighting the world on fire but when you consider the lack of production on defense he becomes an intriguing play. Saving salary to afford other options is the approach to take with Bogosian. The production by itself doesn’t make him viable, but the lower salary brings him into the sphere of consideration.

Bigger Ticket & Affordable Plays

Alex Ovechkin (Capitals) Winger $18,000

Opponent: Ottawa Senators

Stats: 2 Goals – 3 Assists – 38 SOG = 10 GP

The Senators are ranked 27th in defense but their previous 10 games they have only allowed 25 goals. Ovechkin hasn’t been the scoring machine that he was early in the season, but his huge shot totals raises his floor while his talent makes for an extremely high ceiling. Six points in 10 games for a super star is not something to have me salivating, but he is a viable play in a good match up.

Patrick Kane (Blackhawks) Winger $17,700

Opponent: Dallas Stars

Stats: 3 Goals – 4 Assists – 28 SOG = 9 GP

The Stars allow a lot of goals, Kane has been playing well and he has averaged over three shots per game in the Blackhawks previous nine. If someone is going to have a huge night Kane verse the Stars is one of the safer plays.

Pavel Datsyuk (Red Wings) Center $13,200

Opponent: Tampa Bay Lightning

Stats: 3 Goals – 3 Assists – 31 SOG = 8 GP

Datsyuk has performed as well as Ovechkin and Kane recently and he is significantly more affordable. Add the high number of shots on goal and I like his chances tonight.

Jason Spezza (Stars) Center $12,900

Opponent: Chicago Blackhawks

Stats: 5 Goals – 1 Assist – 25 SOG = 6 GP

Spezza is scoring more goals and has a significantly cheaper salary than the true “big-ticket” items on this list. The Stars/Hawks game could be an explosive one that you need to own shares in and Spezza is the best all around combination of performance and price. The bigger names are more tempting, but Spezza is the percentage play.

Steven Stamkos (Lightning) Center $15,400

Opponent: Detroit Red Wings

Stats: 4 Goals – 2 Assists – 17 SOG = 6 GP

Stamkos has been playing consistently well for more than a month and at a reasonably affordable salary. His shots on goal don’t compare to the “big-ticket” plays, but the salary reflects that and benefits you.

Anze Kopitar (Kings) Center $13,600

Opponent: Minnesota Wild

Stats: 4 Goals – 5 Assists – 17 SOG = 7 GP

The Kings are running hot and Kopitar does a little of everything for DFS players. We like seeing a lot of shots on goal, but Kopitar is a centerman that distributes the puck and scores it too. The lack of high shot totals is acceptable considering the fact that he is the center of the offensive attention for the Kings.

DEFENSEMAN

It is difficult to get excited about the blue-liners right now. Brent Burns ($17,400) has cooled off and Erik Karlsson ($17,100) is still reliable, but not on quite the same level as he was earlier in the season. I mentioned Zach Bogosian as a solid bargain earlier in the article and with scoring being less than inspiring at the defensive position then shots on goal and blocked shots become viable reasons to select a defenseman. Here are some viable options at affordable prices.

Alec Martinez (Kings) Defense $9,500

Opponent: Minnesota Wild

Stats: 2 Goals – 2 Assists – 16 SOG = 7 GP

Martinez has average just over two and a half blocked shots per game in March and has averaged just over two shots on goal in the last seven games. His shots on goal and blocked shots establish a high floor, while the scoring provides a higher ceiling than you would normally expect.

Radko Gudas (Flyers) $8,700

Opponent: Columbus Blue Jackets

Stats: 2 Goals – 12 SOG = 6 GP

Gudas has blocked 15 shots in the previous nine games to go along with the goals and a two-shot per game average in his last six games. Two blocked shots and two shots on goal is a floor of eight points before a puck touches his tape. That’s a nice floor to start from in a friendly match up and at an affordable salary. We like when a multiple of factors point in a bargain players way.

TEAM G

Edmonton Oilers $14,300 vs. Arizona Coyotes

If you want to take a risk with plenty of reward then the Oilers are your team. They have allowed 30 shots on goal per game over their last eleven and they face an Arizona Coyotes team that has struggled to score goals – 20 goals in nine games. I like when you have a team that allows a lot of shots facing a team that doesn’t score a lot of goals and at an affordable salary. The game is a toss up for the win. The Oilers are affordable because they aren’t a reliable Team G, but they could be a great start in one of the lowest salaries on the board.

Anaheim Ducks $16,100 vs. Montreal Canadiens

The Ducks are one of the biggest favorites on the night, but the Ducks don’t allow a lot of shots and the Canadiens don’t take a lot of them. The Ducks look like is a safe five points for the win but could end up with 16-20 saves and if a couple biscuits slip in to their basket then they end up being a bit costly with a relatively pedestrian night of work. This one has a high floor and a lower ceiling at a somewhat costly price.

Chris Mitchell

Chris Mitchell

Chris Mitchell has been playing Fantasy sports for over twenty years. He contributed to RotoWire.com in their early days before contributing as a writer and doing Fantasy sports Podcasts for Seamheads.com. Three seasons ago he brought his writing and his Fantasy sports Podcast to RotoExperts.com and the Fantasy Sports Television network and this past season he wrote a weekly Fantasy sports column for BaseballAmerica.com. He also writes about Minor League prospects for RotoExperts. Chris has no more access to the site than the typical user. Follow him at Twitter @CJMiitch73.

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