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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.

Welcome back to another round of bargain bin options for this week on FanDuel.

A reminder that as is customary in the NHL at this time of year, there will be a three-day break for the Christmas holiday. This year, that break runs from the 23rd through the 25th, with action returning on Boxing Day.

There may be significant differences in lineup configurations between now and the weekend. I will try to keep the pertinent ones to this article updated once the 26th rolls around.

As always, there will be one skater listed per position, and priced at $4,000 or less. There will also be a couple of cheap goalies at the end of the article to use at different times this week.

Centre

Peter Holland (Toronto) - $3,300


The Leafs are in Arizona on Tuesday night, and though I wouldn’t usually give much thought to a team playing their second game in as many nights on the road, going into Arizona isn’t quite like going into Los Angeles or Nashville.

Holland is starting to play a lot of minutes for the Leafs. At time of writing (before Monday night’s game), he had played at least 17 minutes in four out of his last five games. That includes centering the third line with Joffrey Lupul and Daniel Winnik, playing the second power play unit, and even a bit of shorthanded time. Any skater who plays in all three facets of the games likely has the trust of his coach, which seems to be important to coach Mike Babcock.

Holland probably won’t have a lot of downside in this game; his matchups should be against the bottom-six of Arizona, and there isn’t much for scoring there. Given his increased role, good matchup, and likely rock-bottom ownership, he is fine to use Tuesday night for cash game salary relief.

Right Wing

Lee Stempniak (New Jersey) - $3,300


New Jersey has two road games this week: Tuesday in Detroit and Saturday in Carolina. Both teams are among the 10 best in the NHL at limiting scoring chances at five-on-five. That would probably rule out using Stempniak against Detroit. Carolina, however, is tied for last in save percentage as a team at five-on-five. In that sense, using him on Saturday would make sense.

It has been a good year for Stempniak, and his linemates Michael Cammalleri and Adam Henrique. Cammalleri is nearly a point-per-game, Henrique has just three fewer goals in 43 fewer games than last year, while Stempniak has just two fewer points in 37 fewer games from 2014-2015. That trio leads all Devils forwards in high-danger scoring chances, and it’s not close whatsoever.

There will probably be a slowdown for all three once the calendar rolls over to 2016, but betting against the Carolina goaltending seems to be a safe one. Stempniak is the cheapest piece of that top line and is a solid start Saturday.

Left Wing

Conor Sheary (Pittsburgh) - $3,000


In his last two seasons with Pittsburgh’s American Hockey League affiliate, Sheary has 70 points in 82 games. It’s not a total that is other-worldly by any stretch, but it is a very solid total indicative of a player with offensive skill. Given the difficulties the Penguins have had scoring this year, he should be a welcome addition.

Sheary was recalled last week by the Penguins. In his first three games with the team, he managed two points and 11 shots on goal. That shot total is something that is a very good indicator early on. He is not a player on the ice just trying to get pucks in deep and not make a glaring mistake. Rather, he’s trying to stick to what made him successful enough to get the call to the big club in the first place, and that’s score.

What is most important here is that in those first three games, Sheary played the majority of his time with either Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby. Crosby sat out Monday’s game, and it appeared it may be just to give him some extra rest as the team does not have another game until Saturday night. If he’s out of the lineup on the weekend, it will be Sheary who takes his spot on the top power play unit. If Crosby returns, Sheary is still almost certain to play with one of Pittsburgh’s top two centres at even strength.

I would hold off on using Sheary until Sunday when the Penguins visit the Jets. There will be more information with regard to Crosby then, and the Jets have a penalty kill to target against if the captain is out again.

Defence

Jared Spurgeon (Minnesota) - $3,600


Spurgeon just signed a fresh four-year contract worth over $20 million. He is an excellent defenceman, and worth every penny.

Besides the new deal, though, Spurgeon was slotted alongside Ryan Suter in the not-too-distant past. He played at least 22:44 in four of his last five games, Monday night not included. That’s an important mark because Spurgeon’s career-high in minutes per game for a season is 22:38. Now that he’s consistently with Suter, he’s fairly consistently playing more minutes than ever.

Minnesota is hosting Montreal on Tuesday night. Both teams are playing their second game in as many nights, though Minnesota has had both of theirs at home, with Montreal on the road for theirs. That is a slight advantage to the Wild.

Finally, Max Pacioretty has just six points in 13 games since Brendan Gallagher was injured. Gallagher is excellent at creating offence, and no one that has skated with Pacioretty since has been able to remotely fill in that gap. That is important because Suter-Spurgeon probably face Pacioretty a fair amount, and there seems to be little risk of a big minus game. I am fine with using Spurgeon on Tuesday at home.

Goalies

Connor Hellebuyck (Winnipeg) - $5,700


Hellebuyck is one of those goalies that has been severely underpriced since his recall from the American Hockey League. His price has not adjusted since, and that’s good news for FanDuel players.

With the Jets at home on Sunday to the Penguins, it isn’t a wonderful matchup but at his price, Hellebuyck should be strongly considered for GPPs. The penalty kill of the Jets is always a concern, but seeing as the cost of the goalie is under $6,000, he’s hard to ignore.

Martin Jones (San Jose) - $7,200

San Jose has a really tough matchup on Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Kings on the road. I would never use Jones in a cash game, but I would assume most fantasy owners would stay away from this matchup in tournaments. That is the time to use a goalie like that, particularly at his price.

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.