The NHL is back to a full schedule and most teams have about one-quarter of their season left. Wednesday is the NHL's trade deadline, so be sure to keep an eye on the transaction wire; players included in trades may miss games due to travel, and there's nothing worse than taking a zero because a player was a late scratch due to a trade.
Here are this week's FanDuel value plays by positions:
Alex Stalock – San Jose Sharks ($6800)*
Since Jan. 16, the Sharks have essentially rotated goaltenders, and this has led to a near-split between Stalock (7) and Antti Niemi (8) for starts in goal.
There has been good reason to split the starts between the two goalies, as Stalock has gone 5-2 in those seven starts, giving up just 10 goals along the way for a save percentage of .940. There were some impressive wins in there, too. Stalock was one of two goalies to shutout the Winnipeg Jets this year (Carey Price is the other). He also allowed just one goal to the highly-skilled Dallas Stars, and held an offensively-charged Philadelphia Flyers team to three goals. In that time, Niemi has suffered losses to Edmonton, Buffalo, and the aforementioned Flyers.
One reason to love Stalock is the puck possession game of the Sharks; San Jose has the third-best possession rating this year and has allowed about as many shot attempts (1156) as the Boston Bruins (1148) in close-score situations.
The Sharks are at home for all three games this week and they get Carolina (who has looked awful coming out of the break), Pittsburgh (who has given up 10 goals in their last two games) and Montreal (who is just not very good). It's a good home schedule, and Stalock should get at least one of these games. Let's hope it's not Pittsburgh.
*note: The price on Stalock will likely go up this week so keep an eye on his price.
Slava Voynov – Los Angeles Kings ($3500)
The Los Angeles Kings have reeled off three straight wins coming out of the break and have done so in impressive fashion by putting up six goals against Colorado and then allowing just one goal against in their next two games. The Kings had pretty much been in a two-month scoring drought and it looks as though that is finally over.
Voynov hasn't scored since Nov. 14, and his slump is kind of reminiscent of teammate Drew Doughty from a year ago; last year Doughty had one goal on his first 83 shots of the season (1.2% shooting) and then scored five on his final 31 shots (16.1% shooting). This year, Voynov shot 11.8 percent and scored two goals in the first eight games to start the season, but has shot 1.2 percent since. These numbers tend to balance themselves out, so Voynov could score four or five goals over the rest of the season.
Los Angeles has Montreal at home on Monday and then goes to Winnipeg and Edmonton for their next two games after that. Those first and last games are pretty soft contests with a good -- but beatable -- Winnipeg team caught in the middle. Voynov gets top power-play minutes, favorable second-tier matchups, and his price has just kept going down. Combine that with the fact that I expect him to break out of his slump in the next week or two, and Voynov is a solid FanDuel play for the week.
Alex Chiasson – Dallas Stars ($3000)
Chiasson started the season like a house on fire with five goals in the first month of the season, but has managed just four goals since. What might scare some people off of Chiasson is his minus-20 rating for the season. That is a misleading number though, as the bulk of the total came in December and January, when he went minus-17 over those two months. In fact, he's been an even player over his last 11 games.
A big problem had been Chiasson's ice time, though that seems to have been rectified a bit lately; Chiasson failed to crack the 15-minute mark in the 10 games leading to the Olympic break, but has managed an average of 15:20 in the two games that Dallas has played since the break. Most notably, Chiasson has managed to stay on the top power-play unit with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. While Dallas' power play has left something to be desired this year with a 26th overall rank in efficiency, it's still a prime position for Chiasson to rack up power play points should that unit ever get rolling.
The games this week for Dallas are at home vs. Buffalo, in Columbus on Tuesday, and then back at home for games against Vancouver and Minnesota. In Dallas' last two games against Minnesota, they outshot the Wild 71-37, and they've already beaten Vancouver twice this year by a combined score of 6-2. Chiasson has three points in five games this year against those two teams.
Carl Hagelin – New York Rangers ($3900)
The Rangers lost both their games over the weekend and gave up 10 goals against in the process. Only one of those goals was a power-play goal, so the plus/minus concerns of some of the players are very valid. I believe that those goals are a function of puck luck and not an actual downturn in the team. To wit, the Rangers out-attempted both the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers 84-74 in those two games while skating five-on-five (53.2%).
Hagelin had found himself at the bottom of the depth chart for most of the season, but recently he has been skating on the second line with Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan. Because of a bit of bad luck for the Rangers lately, Hagelin has gone minus-5 in the three games since the break.
With all that said, there is a significant difference in the competition they played last week (Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston) and the competition they will face this week (Toronto, Carolina, Detroit). The Richards line typically matches up against other teams' second lines, so that means Hagelin will be lined up against the likes of David Clarkson, Jiri Tlusty, and Justin Abdelkader. Aside from possibly Abdelkader, those aren't names that strike fear in the hearts of men when it comes to playing defensively through the neutral zone.
Hagelin has a good price and I expect a big rebound from his line's plus/minus over the last week. He doesn't get power play time so his upside is limited, but I expect that difference to be made up in his plus/minus rating for the week. With his price, all he needs is to go plus-2 with a shot on goal in any given game to be close to the break-even point.
Cody Eakin – Dallas Stars ($3900)
There is no denying that the Dallas Stars have a great schedule this week, and that makes Eakin a very interesting play for the next four games.
Eakin has been Dallas' second-line center for most of the season and has an outside chance to get to 20 goals this year (he has 13 in 60 games so far). There are a few reasons to like Eakin this week: his line typically gets favorable zone starts (the first and third line both get more defensive starts than Eakins' second line); he's has taken 30 shots on goal in his last 12 games (2.5 per game) after averaging just 1.75 shots on goal in his first 48 games; and he's averaged close to 20 minutes per game in the two games since the break. He's getting a lot more game time, which translates to more shots on goal, and he's not getting buried with defensive zone starts. That is a recipe for success.
Eakin does play on the second power-play unit, so not only does he suit up on a unit that doesn't get a lot of time, but also one that doesn't convert a lot of chances it gets. I feel the opportunity he's being given at even strength, however, makes up for his lack of power-play prowess.
As mentioned earlier, Dallas gets Buffalo, Columbus, Vancouver, and Minnesota this week. Depending how Columbus and Minnesota are viewed, at least two of those games are great match-ups for Eakin, especially Vancouver considering the turmoil that team is going through.