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FanDuel NHL: Value Plays for the Week

Michael Clifford

Michael Clifford writes about fantasy hockey for RotoWire. He was a FSWA finalist in 2015 and 2013 for Hockey Writer of the Year. Former SportsNet hockey columnist, where he churned out four articles a week.

A quick reminder that the actual NHL trade deadline is on March 2, so it is quickly approaching. While most deals will happen on deadline day, expect a few to happen in the days leading up to it as well. Keep an eye on RotoWireís depth charts to see where players slot in as the NHL gets shuffled around.

As always, there is a skater that carries a cost under $4000 listed at each FanDuel position. At the end there will be two goalies to use this week for different reasons on different nights.


J.T. Miller ($3,700)

Miller holds value in all three games this week for the Rangers, but for different reasons. On Tuesday, the Flames travel to New York for the first game of the week. The key to finding value at even strength against the Flames is to avoid players facing the defensive pairing of Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie. Without that duo on the ice together, the Flames give up almost 57 shot attempts per 60 minutes, or about what Arizona gives up overall as a team. Seeing as Miller is on the third line with Carl Hagelin and Kevin Hayes, they shouldnít see those two that often.

New Yorkís next two games are on Thursday and Saturday against the Coyotes and Flyers, respectively. Plus/minus is not a huge concern, given those two teams, for that third line. More than that, though, is that both teams are in the bottom five of the NHL in penalty-kill efficiency, and are both in the top-10 for most penalized teams. Miller is on the second power-play unit with Martin St. Louis and Chris Kreider.

Of the three games, Miller has the highest upside against the Coyotes and Flyers, and is a fine tournament play on those nights so long as he stays on the power play.

Right Wing

Nino Niederreiter ($3,500)

After being traded to Minnesota for the start of the 2013 season, Niederreiter has been a pretty good five-on-five player for the Wild. In fact, Niederreiterís 0.77 goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five isnít very far behind Thomas Vanek and Zach Parise, both at 0.79.

Minnesota has a tough game on Thursday, going into Nashville to face one of the best teams in the league. So Niederreiter is a non-option for that night in particular.

On Tuesday, though, Minnesota hosts Edmonton. While the Oilers are apparently improving under coach Todd Nelson since he took over on Dec. 15, theyíre still giving up more unblocked shot attempts per 60 minutes than the Coyotes (via War On Ice). Niederreiter is now playing with Mikko Koivu and Jason Pominville at five-on-five, so heís in a decent place to succeed. Heís a fine cash-game play Tuesday.

One of the few teams that gives up a higher rate of unblocked shot attempts than Edmonton is Colorado, and thatís where Minnesota heads on Saturday, with the Avalanche coming off a game against Dallas the night before. Hopefully Varlamov isnít in net for the Avalanche, making Niederreiter a good play again.

Left Wing

Michael Raffl ($3,900)

Philadelphia had been struggling to score goals (or a lot of them, anyway), so the duo of Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux were split up at five-on-five. The resulting first line was Raffl beside Giroux and Wayne Simmonds on the other side.

Chemistry isnít completely quantifiable, but there is reason to believe the Raffl-Giroux-Simmonds trio will succeed, besides Giroux being an all-world player:

  • In over 327 minutes of five-on-five time going back three seasons, the Flyers generated over 65 shot attempts per minute with Giroux and Simmonds on the ice. Thatís a very high number.

  • In over 585 minutes of five-on-five going back two seasons, the Flyers generated over 65 shot attempts per minute with Giroux and Raffl on the ice.

  • In over 282 minutes in the same span, the Flyers generated over 62 shot attempts per minute with Raffl and Simmonds on the ice. Not as high as Girouxís numbers, but still pretty good.

Itís a lot of straight lines to draw, but those three guys should play well together. Given that the Flyers are going into Carolina and Toronto for games on Tuesday and Thursday night, respectively, Rafflís price is low enough to stomach for cash-game cap relief, but is better suited for tournaments.


Nick Leddy ($3,800)

Leddy broke a pretty big drought last week, as he had gone 12 games without a goal and had just one assist from Jan. 27 to Feb. 17. He had a three-point game though against Nashville, and has managed at least two shots on goal in five straight games.

The contest on Tuesday dictates that Leddy, at his price, is close to a must-play. They are hosting Arizona, and the Coyotes are legitimately one of the worst teams in the NHL non-Buffalo division. Leddy usually plays the hard minutes with partner Johnny Boychuk, but there are no real hard minutes against Arizona. At $3,800, Leddy presents a good cash game play for defensemen, and he showed last week he has the upside for a tournament option.


John Gibson ($7,700)

Curtis McElhinney ($7,400)

I have two goalies presented because itís uncertain how much longer either one will be holding the starting job.

In Anaheim, regular starting goalie Frederik Andersen may be back this week after missing time with a neck injury. According to Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register, he may not be back this week, which would seemingly give more time for Gibson in net.

Anaheim plays host to Ottawa on a short-slate Wednesday. Given the lack of options that day, and Gibsonís relatively low price, he seems like the best cash-game play on Wednesday night.

I would avoid the game at home Friday against the streaking Kings, but going into Dallas on Sunday could be another good spot for Gibson, only this time in a tournament. Dallas has scored 15 goals in their last five games, but six of those came in one game, meaning just nine total in the other four games. The reason for the five-game sample is that it has been without Tyler Seguin in the lineup. As long as Andersen hasnít returned, Gibson is fine for GPPs.

McElhinney, on the other hand, should see Sergei Bobrovsky coming back this week. If McElhinney starts against Buffalo on Tuesday, heís a good option for both GPPs and cash games. With a back-to-back situation during the weekend, look for McElhinney to possibly get another start, preferably against New Jersey. Again, if he starts that game, heís fine for both cash games and tournaments.

Good luck this week.

*Some stats courtesy of Hockey Analysis, Hockey Reference, and War On Ice.
The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire.