Wednesdays are typically light scheduling nights in the NHL, so DFS owners in large contests have very little room for error. On four-game nights, it’s important to be unique in your value picks to differentiate your lineup from the pack. You’ll be able to afford recognizable top-six forwards and first-pair defensemen, but your success boils down to whether you land one of the surprises of the night.
Whether it’s a cost-effective player with strong category coverage or an under-the-radar stacking option that goes off, creative lineup strategies can pay dividends on these nights. Also, with only eight goalies in action, it’s all the more difficult to tell which ones are worth a high price tag and which cheaper options have equally or more favorable matchups.
Sergei Bobrovsky ($7,300) – There were (and still are) high expectations for Columbus this season and a three-game losing streak out of the gate for Bobrovsky needs to come to an end Wednesday at Nationwide Arena. ‘Bob’ has allowed four goals in each of his first three outings, but has fared well against the Senators in the past with a 4-2-1 record, 2.13 goals-against average and .927 save percentage. He’s still relatively expensive (fourth among goalies), but you have to imagine many DFS owners will be avoiding the Blue Jackets’ back end, making him a solid option for Guaranteed Prize Pool (GPP) contests.
Mike Smith ($5,800) – Given Smith’s price tag and early success, you almost are obligated to ride the hot hand in this contest. He’s somehow the least-expensive goalie on the board in the contest despite averaging 8.7 DraftKings points per game through his first two — wins against the Kings and Penguins (67 saves on 69 shots faced). Smith faces a tough road task against the winless Ducks, but has a winning record against them in his career and appears to be channeling his 2011-12 form (38 wins, 2.21 GAA, .930 SV%). Many forget he was a top-five fantasy goalie that season.
Other to consider: Semyon Varlamov ($7,400)
Tyson Barrie ($4,700) – Most of the Avalanche’s early offense and power-play production from the blue line has ran through Erik Johnson and newcomer Francois Beauchemin, but I expect Barrie to buck that trend in this favorable home matchup against the Bruins. Barrie has seen two minutes per game with the man advantage himself and has a power-play assist with three shots on goal and one blocked shot in his first two games. Barrie, who finished eighth in defensemen scoring last season, has as high a ceiling of anyone at his position against Boston, who’s allowing the sixth-most points to defensemen this season.
Brent Seabrook ($3,900) – Seabrook scored his first goal on the power play Saturday against the Islanders and has provided well-rounded DraftKings coverage thus far with six SOG and four blocks. Seabrook is a slam-dunk pick at this price because he plays on the first power-play unit with Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane and has six straight seasons of 100-plus blocked shots since the NHL began tracking the category.
Others to consider: Sami Vatanen ($4,900), Mark Streit ($4,300), Francois Beauchemin ($3,500), Ryan Murray ($2,700)
Nathan MacKinnon ($6,400) – MacKinnon looks like a man possessed early on for the high-scoring Avalanche, who should feast on an ill-equipped Bruins defense at home. MacKinnon, tied eighth most-expensive in this contest, is averaging eight DraftKings points per game with one goal, four assists, three blocks and seven SOG in two games. He’s been dynamite with the man advantage for the Avalanche with two power-play points and has the wheels in motion on a bounce-back season. Drafting MacKinnon and linemate Alex Tanguay ($4,200) is a worthwhile stack.
Martin Hanzal ($4,100) – Hanzal has been one of the most productive players for the surprising Coyotes and is still not getting much love in terms of salary. He’s playing on Arizona’s second line alongside Anthony Duclair ($2,900) and red-hot wing Tobias Rieder ($3,800), posting three assists, one blocked shot and seven SOG in two games (five DraftKings points per game). That line has been the Coyotes’ most efficient so far in terms of Shot Attempts (SAT) and SAT relative % and is a low-risk, high-reward stacking option.
Others to consider: Ryan Johansen ($6,200), Kyle Turris ($5,900), David Krejci ($5,000), Brayden Schenn ($4,500), Artem Anisimov ($3,500)
Brandon Saad ($5,700) – The Blue Jackets are still without a win entering Wednesday, but Saad is taking full advantage of his expanded power-play role with each of his two goals coming in those situations (T-most in NHL) through three games. He has added nine SOG in that span and is playing with Johansen, one of the most consistent point producers in the League, as expected. I think Columbus snaps out of its funk this week against Ottawa and Toronto, so expect Saad to be heavily responsible.
Artemi Panarin ($3,700) – The Blackhawks’ top-six forward group hasn’t missed a beat despite an offseason thanks largely to the production of Panarin on their second line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov. Panarin has two goals, two assists and eight SOG — including an eight-point DraftKings effort in the second leg of a back-to-back against the Islanders — and remains extremely affordable (32nd among wings in price). He’s seen more ice time with each passing game and appears to have staying power on this explosive unit.
Others to consider: Mark Stone ($5,600), Mikkel Boedker ($4,200), Teuvo Teravainen ($4,100), Michael Raffl ($3,900 to offset Claude Giroux’s price)