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FanDuel NHL: Value Plays for the Week

Michael Clifford

Michael Clifford

Michael Clifford writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

As Boyz 2 Men famously said, we've finally come to the "end of the road."

This post will be my last FanDuel DFS article of the season, and it's been quite the last few months. From injuries to line shuffling, from shutouts to shootouts, there have been some nervous DFS nights, but such is the nature of the game. Daily Fantasy Hockey can be frustrating in a sense that a goaltender can decide one's fortunes for a night, but it's a fantastic way to get interested in the game of hockey. For those that were already fans, hopefully this showed you another side of the game. For those that just came on board, hopefully there's a new sport that has found some corner of your heart.

At its core, hockey is a great sport to learn about teamwork and sacrifice. Hopefully, I've been able to help you win some money, though we may have sacrificed a couple days of our lives sweating out those late-night games. With this said, here are this season's final value picks that should last for the remainder of the second round.



Center

Lars Eller, Montreal Canadiens ($3,900)

A nickname I like to use for Eller is "Playoff Larry," namely because he had a good start to the Tampa Bay series with a goal and an assist in his first game of these playoffs. The thing is, he hasn't really stopped scoring; Eller has at least a point in six of the seven playoff games so far, including a goal and two assists in the first three games against Boston.

There are a lot of things to like about Eller's game in general. He's a tall, rangy center who only needs a couple of strides to back-check and cause a turnover. Specifically in the playoffs, though, his coach has been his best friend. Boston is a rare team with two pretty balanced scoring lines at the top, although their bottom-six forwards aren't quite as strong as they have been in the past. While Eller's line has been tasked at times with shutting down David Krejci's line, they are also getting ice time against Boston's weaker lines. In Game 3, Eller went head-to-head with Krejci 13 times, but also faced Boston's bottom-two lines six times. Boston coach Claude Julien seemed to be starting Boston's fourth line in the offensive zone a lot, and if that continues, that means easy defensive zone starts for Eller's line (and others).

Eller has been more involved offensively that he was in the regular season -- he's taken as many shot attempts (20) as Thomas Vanek at 5-on-5 -- and is only one of six regular Montreal players to be above a 50-percent possession rating (50.6-percent, 1.8-percent above his team's average). When he's on a streak like he is now, he's more than worth his price.

Right Wing

Nino Niederreiter, Minnesota Wild ($4,000)

I will say that Niederreiter's price is likely to go up after Tuesday night's performance, but he should remain a good value as long as he stays on a line with Mikko Koivu and Charlie Coyle, where he was promoted for Game 3. In Minnesota's win, Niederreiter had a very nice assist, was plus-1 and had two shots on goal.

There is a slight cause for concern in using Niederreiter in Game 4. Namely, it's that Wild coach Mike Yeo was using Koivu's line as a checking line against Chicago's top two lines in their first game back in Minnesota, thanks to having the last line change. This led to a possession rating below 50 percent for Niederreiter, though it was close (12 shot attempts against, 11 for). It could have been worse had the Blackhawks been on their game Tuesday night. What it does do for Niederreiter is provide him with more talented linemates to play with -- his assist was his first point this series -- and more ice time in general to generate shots.

Again, I would wait to use Niederreiter until they get back to Chicago, so that perhaps the Koivu line can get back to being matched up against Chicago's third line instead of either of the top two. Also, Koivu's line was used a lot more in the offensive zone in the games in Chicago rather than the games in Minnesota, so there are a couple of different ways in which this line can flourish on the road.

Left Wing

Carl Hagelin, New York Rangers ($4,200)

Hagelin can be a frustrating player to watch at times. The natural talent is there, namely his speed, but his production can be very inconsistent, making him a veritable boom-or-bust winger. He's also playing on what seems to be a boom-or-bust offense, but I digress.

In the latter half of Game 3, Rick Nash was removed from Hagelin's line, with J.T. Miller taking his place. This essentially turned this line into the third line for the Rangers. After Nash was removed from the line, the next five straight shifts for the Hagelin-Richards-Miller line resulted in matchups against neither Sidney Crosby nor Evgeni Malkin. If his line can avoid the heavy scorers for Pittsburgh, it should allow for Hagelin's speed to break open games, since he can't really do that when his team doesn't have the puck. In that game when the change was made, Hagelin and Richards both finished with a possession rating above 54-percent.

For my money, I would rather use Hagelin in a GPP than a cash game format -- half of Hagelin's playoff games did not see him reach value, and he has just one shot on goal in seven out of 10 playoff games so far. The Rangers offense hasn't looked particularly dangerous, so I'm probably going to shy away from their players in games where I'm hoping to simply double my money. Hagelin and Richards had excellent underlying numbers together this season, though, and perhaps being freed up from top competition will allow them to rekindle their chemistry.

Defense

Alec Martinez, Los Angeles Kings ($4,400)

It seems a new spring rite of passage has commenced, that of a burgeoning Los Angeles Kings defenseman carrying the team to greater heights. A couple years ago, the Kings rode a solid postseason from Drew Doughty to a Stanley Cup. Last season, Slava Voynov tied for the team lead in points en route to a Western Conference Finals appearance. And this season, Martinez has posted five points in his last six playoff games (after zero in his first three games against San Jose), including goals in back-to-back games.

There are two ways to look at Martinez's position on the depth chart. What hurts him is that he's a part of the third defensive pairing, which means he doesn't get to play with the Anze Kopitar line very often. On the bright side, it also means he avoids the Ryan Getzlaf line of Anaheim. In fact, even in Anaheim, where the Ducks were afforded last line change, Martinez only had two shifts against the Getzlaf line the entire first two games of the series, with none of those coming in Game 2. While Martinez isn't an offensive powerhouse, he is one of 65 defensemen in the NHL this year with at least 60 games played and 0.35 points per game. By my math, that's just a little over two defensemen per team.

Martinez gets to avoid matching against the Getzlaf line and seems to be on a bit of a hot streak. Also, he looks like he's locked in on the top power-play unit with the Gaborik line and Doughty as the other blueliner. His price is a little high, but it's worth riding the streak right now.

Goaltender

Jonas Hiller, Anaheim Ducks ($8,300)

In a weird indicator of what might be coming, Hiller is priced cheaper than backup Frederik Andersen, who started the playoffs for Anaheim before surrendering the top spot on the depth chart. Let's face it: the first two losses of the series with the Kings are not on Jonas Hiller. He's allowed five goals in two games (the first was an overtime loss) and while his .904 save percentage through two games isn't pretty, it's worth noting Ilya Bryzgalov of Minnesota had an .830 save percentage in the playoffs before earning a shutout win against Chicago on Tuesday.

Anaheim getting swept in this series would be a bit of a shocker, so there should be a win coming down the pike for Hiller in either Game 3 or Game 4. I look at it as I did with Bryzgalov -- I'm not relying on Hiller in my cash games, but he will be my goalie in every GPP lineup I make. It's worth saving the couple of thousand on Hiller over someone like Tuukka Rask to spend on your skaters in large tournaments.