Welcome back for another week of FanDuel bargain bin options.
Last week was an up-and-down week. Alexander Wennberg did score for the Blue Jackets, just in the wrong game. Joe Blandisi was a bust and Eddie Lack didn’t start when I thought he would. On the flipside, Jaccob Slavin had assists in his final two games of the week, as did Sven Andrighetto against Colorado. Finally, Darcy Kuemper saved 31 of 33 shots in a win against Edmonton. Not all bad.
As always, there will be one skater to use per FanDuel position priced at $4,000 or less. At the end, there will be a couple of cheap goalies.
Nick Cousins (Philadelphia) - $3,500
Claude Giroux is expected to miss at least another game with an upper-body injury. It is speculation, but he did take a hit to the head last week against Montreal, so there’s no telling when he returns. The catch here is that Sean Couturier practiced on Monday and may play on Tuesday. Check RotoWire’s updates to see whether or not he’s in the lineup.
Cousins appears to be ready for the NHL. A third round pick in 2011, Cousins has 94 points in his last 102 regular season AHL games. With that production, there’s not much left for him to prove at the lower level.
Tomorrow will be Carolina’s fifth game in eight days, and as of right now, Justin Faulk may not be ready to return. There are a lot of moving parts here, but Cousins has been productive since being recalled, with three goals and five points in nine since Feb 6. Keep an eye on starts and scratches, but assuming Couturier doesn’t play, Cousins is a nice bargain option for Tuesday night.
David Pastrnak (Boston) - $3,800
Like many young players in the NHL, Pastrnak has struggled to earn his coach’s trust. Whether justified or not, the coaches are the ones who dole out ice time. From a production standpoint, no other Bruins skater has been able to match him: since the start of the 2014-15, Pastrnak leads all Bruin forwards in points per 60 minutes at five-on-five.
While he has been toiling in the bottom half of the Bruins roster at times, he has found himself back on the second line with David Krejci and Loui Eriksson. While it’s not a huge improvement, when the Bruins have Krejci and Pastrnak together over the last two years, they’ve generated about 4.5% more shot attempts, and allowed about 2.4% fewer shot attempts. Hockey is a game of variance, and edges matter. With plus/minus factored in, better possession numbers can help, and they do here.
Evgeni Malkin is out and still not practicing with the team. Pittsburgh and Boston play each other on Wednesday, and it’s a short four-game slate. That slate features a lot of talented players with San Jose, Colorado, and Washington all in action. Pastrnak is a very good option who can be had for cheap, and allows access to the more expensive players.
Calle Jarnkrok (Nashville) - $4,100
This is kind of cheating, as Jarnkrok is slightly above the $4,000 threshold. Sometimes, though, rules are meant to be broken. And with Jarnkrok’s situation, this is definitely the time for it.
While Jarnkrok isn’t exactly a ‘young player’ in the same vein as Pastrnak, he still had to earn his coach’s trust. It certainly seems like he’s done that, as he’s now skating on the top line with Ryan Johansen and James Neal. Needless to say, this is one of the more cushy landing spots in the NHL for fantasy production, as Johansen (at time of writing) has 16 points in 19 games since arriving from Columbus.
While it is a back-to-back situation, the Predators are going into Toronto on Tuesday night. With all the trades and injuries, half of the Leafs starting forwards are players who have spent some time in the AHL this season. As good a coach as Mike Babcock may be, that is a depleted lineup he’s controlling. I imagine the Predators ownership will be high, but Jarnkrok is a way to get exposure to the top line without paying top price for players on the second night of consecutive outings.
Mike Reilly (Minnesota) - $3,400
Since firing coach Mike Yeo, Minnesota have reeled off four straight wins, scoring 21 goals in the process. Granted, three of those wins were against the Western Canadian teams, so there should be an asterisk. What they also did was draw 16 power plays in those four games, and scored in each one.
That info is pertinent here because Reilly has been running the second power play unit for the Wild and is the lone defenceman there. That kind of makes him the go-to power play QB for the second unit, which means the plays run through him.
Minnesota goes into Washington on Friday. While that seems like a terrible matchup, it should be noted that Reilly is a bottom-pairing defenceman. That means he won’t be facing (much) of the Evgeny Kuznetsov line or Nicklas Backstrom line, minimizing the opportunity for a minus. They aren’t a great penalty killing team either, as the Caps are mid-pack in scoring chances against per minute while short-handed. Reilly will probably be minimally owned, which makes him the perfect tournament play.
Eddie Lack (Carolina) - $6,800
Carolina has a back-to-back later this week, with the first half being a game in Toronto. Earlier this column, I discussed how bare the Leafs roster is. There is no real telling whether it will be Lack or Cam Ward in that game, but they are similarly priced, so whichever goalie gets the start is a very nice option for a high-save performance: Toronto is sixth in the NHL in shots per minute in all situations, and have landed at least 36 shots in five of their previous six.
Cam Talbot (Edmonton) - $7,100
There are few situations when Talbot should even be considered for a start in DFS. Edmonton is a poor defensive team, but it’s not like Talbot is a top-end goalie that can stop 33 of 34 shots regularly. With that said, the Oilers are home to the Senators on Tuesday, and Ottawa is one of the few teams worse defensively. It seems like a good spot for Edmonton to get the win, and at Talbot’s price, it doesn’t require a whole lot more than that to get to value.