This article is part of our FanDuel NHL series.
Welcome back to another round of FanDuel value plays! For those just tuning in following football season, this column looks at bargain bin options for the week on specific nights.
As most weeks go, and as is the nature with bargain bin options, there were hits and misses last week. Jeff Petry put up 3.2 FanDuel points on Saturday, which was a good performance. Nino Niederreiter had a monster game last Tuesday with 8.7 points. On the other hand, Brett Connolly and Phillip Danault combined for zero points and a minus-3 rating. Remember: these are players to be used in the hope that they can provide two or three points, and provide salary relief for more expensive players, not building blocks of a lineup.
There will be one skater per FanDuel position listed, and at time of writing, is $4,000 or less. At the end of the article, there will be a couple cheap goalies to use.
Andreas Athanasiou (Detroit) - $3,200
The Detroit Red Wings have shuffled their lines a bit, and Pavel Datsyuk is skating with Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader. Not only are they used as a shutdown line, but they will in turn be the focus of the opposition. That should allow the talented depth forwards to flourish a bit.
One of these depth forwards is Athanasiou. As a rookie with just two points in seven games, Athanasiou is far from a household name. The nice thing about using him this week is his new linemates, Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar. There is an argument that outside of Dylan Larkin, those two are the most talented wingers the Wings have. In fact, since the start of 2013, Nyquist is tied for the lead in points per 60 minutes at five-on-five with Datsyuk at 1.86 and Tatar is right behind at 1.85. In that span, Nyquist and Tatar are both top-20 in the entire league in goals per 60 minutes of ice time.
Detroit plays their next two games on Wednesday and Friday against Ottawa and Colorado, both in the bottom-10 in allowing high-danger scoring chances per 60 minutes. As long as Athanasiou skates with those two wingers, he's very much in play at his price.
Mikhail Grigorenko (Colorado) - $3,800
Grigorenko is one of those high draft picks (12th in 2012) that hasn't really panned out yet. Things are looking somewhat better, as he has 15 points in 47 games, despite playing under 12 minutes a game. Balance that with the fact he posted just 14 in 68 with Buffalo.
The big reason for using Grigorenko is his new line placement. Of late, the Russian forward has been skating on a line with Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon. Those are two of the most talented forwards not only on their team, but in the league. It's still a tiny sample – about seven or eight games' worth – but the Avalanche take over 13% more shots when Grigorenko is on the ice with Duchene than without him.
Colorado plays Detroit this week, and that should be a tough game. Other than that, they face Vancouver, Ottawa, and Buffalo. Those are three non-playoff teams, and Grigorenko is fine to use against any of those teams as long as he's with Duchene and MacKinnon.
Patrik Berglund (St. Louis) - $3,700
The impending return of winger Jaden Schwartz also means an inevitable demotion for Patrik Berglund. It doesn't appear Schwartz is quite ready yet and that means Berglund will likely continue to skate on St. Louis' top line with Vladimir Tarasenko and Paul Stastny.
It should go without saying, but Tarasenko makes everyone around him better, Berglund included:
- Since 2013, Berglund has averaged 1.68 points per 60 minutes at five-on-five with Tarasenko on the ice with him. Without Tarasenko, that number drops to 1.40.
- During that same period, St. Louis has averaged 63.88 shot attempts per 60 minutes at five-on-five with those two on the ice together. When Berglund is without Tarasenko, that drops considerably to 53.85.
Playing with good players makes a decent player better. A novel concept, I know.
Winnipeg is in St. Louis for a game on Tuesday night. According to an app developed by Emmanuel Perry, the Winnipeg defence pairing of Jacob Trouba and Dustin Byfuglien drives scoring chance differential better than any other Jets pairing. They were recently split up and that is good news for Berglund and company.
Joe Morrow (Boston) - $3,000
As far as the second power play unit is concerned, the Boston defensive selections have been a carousel beyond Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara. Colin Miller, Zach Trotman, and now Joe Morrow have all taken their turns.
To be honest, there is nothing special about Morrow. He was expected to be good offensively, but is among the worst point producing Bruins blueliners over the last couple of seasons on a per minute basis and hasn't had a power play point in his short career.
This is all about opportunity and matchup. Though the second unit doesn't earn a lot of minutes in Boston, they are going into Winnipeg on Thursday and Minnesota on Saturday. While the former is the better matchup, those two are both in the bottom-10 in allowing high-danger scoring chances while short-handed. For a minimum price, Morrow has a reasonable chance of a power play assist in either of those games.
Robin Lehner (Buffalo) - $7,300
It's happened quietly, but Robin Lehner has a .939 save percentage in his seven games. He was injured for most of the season, and it's a small sample, but he's been up to the task so far.
Florida will be in Tuesday night after an uninspired performance against Detroit Monday. Teams on a back-to-back on the road see their win probability drop by nearly three percent automatically, and in the world of the NHL, that is significant. I have no problem using Lehner for tournaments, and he's a nice cheap option for cash games.
Al Montoya (Florida) - $7,800
Montoya had a good outing Monday night in the first half of a back-to-back, and the Panthers face another back-to-back later this week. While St. Louis and Nashville are both very solid, the Predators will be playing their second game in as many nights. If Montoya gets the call Saturday night, he's a nice tournament play who shouldn't be very highly owned.