A frustrating, yet true, fact of life when it comes to the final few weeks of the NHL season is that coaches are as secretive with injuries as governments are with nuclear launch codes. Thereís no benefit for coaches to tell the truth regarding the nature of an injury, so even though someone like Dougie Hamilton of Boston is regarded as ďout indefinitely,Ē that could be anything from a game to the rest of the season. It can wreak havoc on lineups, so be sure to constantly check RotoWireís depth charts.
Here are some skaters to use throughout the week in your FanDuel lineups. As usual, all skaters will be $4000 or less, with a cheap goalie at the end.
Brandon Sutter ($3,200)
Itís been a solid year offensively for Sutter; one more goal would tie a five-year high, while four more points would do the same. At $3,200, heís also underpriced on FanDuel given what heís produced. That price point is cheaper than other bargain centers like Adam Lowry of Winnipeg and Bo Horvat of Vancouver, and neither of those two players have achieved what Sutter has offensively.
The biggest reason for liking Sutter this week is that Evgeni Malkin still hasnít returned to the lineup (and will not Tuesday night). Since Malkin has been out, Sutter has been in a top-six forward role for the Penguins. Heís also managed 11 shots on goal in those four games, a significant improvement on what he did over the previous portion of the season. I would not use Sutter on Tuesday against St. Louis, but heís a fine option against any of Carolina, Arizona and San Jose, as long as Malkin is still out.
Mark Stone ($3,700)
There is always someone who falls through the cracks. For most of the season it had been Sean Monahan of Calgary, a player who was priced at $3600 despite the fact that he was a 20-goal scorer. His price has increased recently, but that of Mark Stone has not (much).
Stone plays on the top line in Ottawa with Kyle Turris and Milan Michalek (when Michalek is healthy). Going back to Feb. 1, Stone has managed 23 points in 24 games. Thatís a pretty good hot streak that is not reflected in his price. Whatís even more important is that over those 24 games, there has been just one where Stone hasnít played at least 16 minutes. Teams fighting for their playoff lives often see their coach wildly fluctuate ice time in search of that ďhot hand.Ē Well, itís been Stone for the better part of two months now. Ottawa has back-to-back games on the weekend against Toronto and Florida, both good matchups for Stone and company.
Jonathan Drouin ($3,600)
It hasnít been the rookie season that fantasy hockey owners, daily fantasy players, Tampa Bay fans, and likely Drouin himself had hoped for. This was a player who was spoken of in the same breath as Coloradoís Nathan MacKinnon a couple of years ago. To this point in the season, Drouin has two goals an 66 shots on goal in 62 games. Heís generally known for being a wizard with the puck who has great ice awareness, but even just two goals is a significant deviation from what was expected.
All the same, Drouin is being given an opportunity to put a big dent into his goal totals for the foreseeable future. Of late, Drouin has been given a wing position beside Steven Stamkos at five-on-five. While Drouin still hasnít been given power-play time, which doesnít make his price a great value, heís still playing alongside one of the elite scoring options in the NHL.
From Puckalytics.com, Tampa Bay scores more often and shoots more often when Drouin is on the ice with Stamkos than when Drouin is without him (which should be expected, but I just wanted to know that the numbers do bear it out). Whatís more is that they are rarely used in the defensive zone together, so plus/minus shouldnít be a big concern. Tampa Bay has a good Tuesday night matchup, so Drouin is fine for cash games there. I donít even mind using him for cap relief when Nashville comes into town on Thursday.
Jared Spurgeon ($3,600)
How many would guess that itís Jared Spurgeon (2.03), and not Ryan Suter (1.96), that leads regular Minnesota defensemen in shots on goal per game? Itís kind of odd given that Suter is averaging more than six minutes per game this year than Spurgeon, but here we are.
A few more Spurgeon facts: he leads regular Minnesota defensemen in points-per-60 minutes at five-on-five (0.99); that mark is comparable to names like Duncan Keith (0.98) and Justin Faulk (1.00). Heís also one of 14 defensemen in the NHL to have at least nine goals, 13 assists, 110 shots on goal, and a plus-rating.
Minnesota has a tough road game on Tuesday in New York against the Islanders, but Spurgeon doesnít play the top pairing with Ryan Suter (which means he avoids the John Tavares line a fair amount). The Islanders also have an abysmal penalty kill, and Spurgeon gets power play time. Heíd be a sneaky cap relief option in tournaments. I also like Spurgeon on Friday night at home to Calgary.
Andrei Vasilevskii ($7,000)
He might only get one start this week, but Vasilevskii gets a good spot Tuesday night at home to Florida. Given that heís averaged just a half-FanDuel-point less than teammate Ben Bishop, he seems to be massively underpriced at $7,000. To be fair, he was priced at $5,000 recently, so this is an improvement. I have no problem using Vasilevskii on Tuesday for both cash games and tournaments.
Good luck this week!
*Some stats courtesy of Hockey Reference, Hockey Analysis, Puckalytics, and War On Ice.