Here are some players to use on certain days this week for daily fantasy contests on FanDuel. As always, these players all carry a salary under $4,000, except for the goaltender. Be sure to keep checking the RotoWire depth charts through the week, as line combinations are constantly evolving.
Zemgus Girgensons, Buffalo ($3,800)
It’s been quite the recent stretch of games for the Sabres. From Nov. 15 through Dec. 14, the team went 9-3, and at time of writing, they sit one point back of Colorado in the overall standings. A big reason for the surge has been Girgensons, currently the leading vote-getter for the All-Star Game. Over that 12-game stretch, Girgensons has nine points, and has cracked 20 minutes of ice time in six of them.
The unique aspect about Girgensons this season is that he has yet to tally a power-play point. A total of 16 of Girgensons’ 17 points have been at even strength. In FanDuel scoring, an even-strength goal is worth more than a power-play goal (because of the additional plus/minus boost). Even with all the minutes, Girgensons sits tied for 16th among 69 forwards this season in points per 60 minutes (minimum 400 minutes of 5-on-5 time). He’s tallied points with more efficiency than Max Pacioretty, Nicklas Backstrom, John Tavares, and Claude Giroux.
Girgensons has a high shooting percentage, but he does so because he gets so close to the net for his shots: out of 326 forwards with at least 20 games played this season, Girgensons is seventh in average shot distance at 5-on-5. With a home game Saturday against Colorado, Girgensons has a solid matchup this weekend.
J.T. Miller, New York Rangers ($3,700)
The Rangers’ Derick Brassard is one of the league’s latest victims of the mumps, and missed the team’s most recent game. Until further notice, it looks like Miller will be playing between Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello. In his last three games, Miller has cracked 13 minutes in ice time after not having done so in any of his first six games with the team. In those three games, Miller has two goals.
One important advantage that Miller, Nash, and Zuccarello are given is zone starts. It’s intuitive, but players who start in the offensive zone get more offensive opportunities, and are less likely to take negatives. This line was given the most offensive zone starts in their most recent game (via War On Ice), and that provides that line with a decent fantasy floor.
The Rangers have a road game in Calgary on Tuesday, and then a home and home with Carolina over the weekend. All are good matchups for the Rangers, and for this line. He has talented linemates, good situational opportunities, and even some power-play time. That makes Miller a good punt play this week.
Rob Klinkhammer, Pittsburgh ($3,000)
Like Brassard, Sidney Crosby is out of action with the mumps until further notice. With the Penguins also dealing with injuries to Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis, that means the lineup is without half of its top six forwards. This has given opportunities to a lot of different players. In Pittsburgh’s last game, Rob Klinkhammer played alongside Evgeni Malkin right up until the waning minutes of regulation. Klinkhammer played over 16 minutes, and was a plus-1 with one assist.
For those unfamiliar with one of the best names in hockey, Klinkhammer was acquired a couple of weeks ago in a trade from Arizona. He only has 133 career games, 72 of which came last season, when he tallied 20 points. Through his brief career, Klinkhammer has been a possession beast every year, and was second on the Coyotes last season behind Mike Ribeiro in this regard. That’s helped Klinkhammer manage a plus-18 rating over his 133 games, despite being a depth player at every stop.
As long as Klinkhammer stays beside Malkin, with his particular set of skills, he becomes a very viable punt play. Even a night with a plus-1 rating and two shots on goal makes him profitable. With a very solid home matchup Thursday against Colorado, Klinkhammer has at least one good matchup this week as long as he stays in Pittsburgh’s top six forward mix.
Anton Stralman, Tampa Bay ($3,700)
Stralman has proven to be one of the better free-agent signings of the past offseason. So far this season, Stralman has been on the ice for 0.654 goals against per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 time. For reference, Los Angeles defenseman Drew Doughty sits at 0.630 so far this year. While Victor Hedman gets a lot of the attention on the Tampa Bay blue line (and rightfully so), Stralman has been very good as well.
When Tampa brought in Jason Garrison, it was expected that he’d be a power-play stalwart. Well, Hedman is actually running the top power-play unit right now, and Stralman is running the second unit. While playing with Steven Stamkos would be better for Stralman, he has benefited from manning the second unit with Tyler Johnson, who sits at 4.61 points per 60 minutes at 5-on-4. That mark is just behind Ryan Getzlaf (4.69), and ahead of Martin St. Louis (4.45), and Joe Thornton (4.35). That second unit is nothing to sneeze at.
This week, Tampa Bay has games against New Jersey, Philadelphia, and the New York Islanders. Respectively, those teams are 27th, 29th, and 30th overall in the NHL in penalty-kill percentage. The New Jersey is a particularly juicy matchup, but Stralman has intriguing potential against the other two teams as well.
Cam Talbot, New York Rangers ($7,700)
It’s still too small of a sample -- just 28 career games -- for any definitive stance to be taken on Talbot’s skill level in net. Last season though, Talbot had a .942 save percentage at 5-on-5 in over 962 minutes. San Jose’s Alex Stalock was at .934 in over 1,007 minutes, and Frederik Andersen was .931 in over 1,214 minutes. This season, Talbot is at .921.
The Rangers have back-to-back games this weekend against Carolina. With Jiri Tlusty and Alex Semin both injured, the team is short-staffed, though admittedly, Semin hasn’t done much this season. In addition, with Jordan Staal still sidelined, that’s half of Carolina’s top-six forwards out of the lineup. Talbot makes a very good start in tournaments, and is even passable in cash games.
Good luck this week!