Monday is a small, four-game slate in the NHL. On those days, the best options can be fairly obvious, but never take a situation for granted. Especially playing cash games, even if you think a player will be 40 or 50 percent owned, if he’s a good value, just lock him in. Maybe he ends up under 30 percent, maybe not. But eschewing solid plays to search for low ownership rates on a small slate is a fishing expedition.
At time of writing on Sunday night, only three games had Vegas lines posted (Bruins/Jets excepted), but all three had an over-under of 5.5 total goals. I suspect the Boston/Winnipeg game will as well.
Mathieu Perreault, WPG vs BOS ($4,700): With Bryan Little’s injury taking a relied-upon center out of the mix, Perreault has been moved into a top-six role with the Jets, playing with Nikolaj Ehlers and Drew Stafford. It’s still very early, but Perreault has averaged over 17 minutes a game through Winnipeg’s first two contests, and having a featured role for under $5000 is good value. The Bruins may be without Patrice Bergeron again, which takes one of the best two-way centers out of the lineup on a team that has been leaking scoring chances early this year (more than nine per 60 minutes of five-on-five, per Corsica Hockey).
Riley Sheahan, DET vs OTT ($3,700): Over the last three years, Sheahan has played more than 1,200 minutes on a line with Tomas Tatar, the most of any Detroit forward. In that time, the Red Wings generate over 57 shot attempts at five-on-five, while when Sheahan is skating without Tatar, that number drops under 51. He also registers points with about 33 percent more frequency (1.60 per 60 minutes to 1.21). If you need salary relief at center, Sheahan should be a target.
Patrik Laine, WPG vs BOS ($4,100): This is one of those incredibly obvious plays. The rookie winger went from the third line to the first line in Winnipeg’s first game, and he’s expected to skate alongside Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler both at five-on-five and on the power play. A player with such a prime role – he’s played over 19 minutes a game on average so far – at his price, with his skills, is a must. Even if he’s 50 percent owned, he should be in your cash-game lineups.
Joonas Donskoi, SJS at NYR ($3,900): The downside to using some of the Sharks skaters that aren’t their top scorers is that they see limited power-play time. Donskoi will be lucky to get half the power-play time of guys like Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton. That said, last year, when Donskoi and Logan Couture skated together, the Sharks generated more than 61 shot attempts per 60 minutes, a number that dropped when that duo was split up. They also draw a Rangers team with some holes on the blue line.
Scott Wilson, PIT vs COL ($3,600): With Sidney Crosby injured, the lineup can fluctuate a fair amount with the Penguins. With that said, in Pittsburgh’s last game, Scott Wilson skated alongside either Evgeni Malkin or Patric Hornqvist (or both) for just about every shift (per HockeyStats.ca). While he doesn’t have a lot of time in the NHL, Wilson does have 81 points in 92 career AHL games, which includes 43 goals. I wouldn’t rely on him in a cash game because a zero is a real possibility, but given his linemates, the upside is there for tournaments.
Pavel Buchnevich, NYR vs SAN ($3,600): While the Rangers tend to spread the ice time around, Buchnevich is playing on what could be considered the second line with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. They also skate on the power play together and are getting frequent offensive-zone starts at over 50 percent. Buchnevich has managed four shots in two games despite a little under 15 minutes a game so far. This is another very obvious play, so the rookie should carry high ownership rates.
Adam Clendening, NYR vs SAN ($3,400): Another player without a long track record, Clendening is skating more than 18 minutes a game in the early going, but most importantly, he’s the lone power-play defenseman on their second unit. In his limited NHL time over the last two years, Clendening has managed about as many shots per minute as big names like Seth Jones and Drew Doughty. Players who like to shoot and are given power-play time can reach value at this price fairly quickly, even in a tough matchup.
Cody Ceci, OTT at DET ($3,700): Over the last two seasons, Ceci has managed 246 shots on goal and 243 blocked shots in 156 games, which works out to about five FanDuel points per game through shots and blocked shots alone. He’s getting a lot more ice time so far this year than before, averaging more than 24 minutes a game in the early going. Shot and block totals typically increase with additional ice time, so Ceci doesn’t even need to register a point to reach value at his price.
Petr Mrazek, DET vs OTT ($8,300): While he’s not confirmed as the goalie yet, Monday is a bit of a minefield, as short slates can be. It’s been a rough start to the season, but Mrazek has notched a .920 save percentage through his first four years in the league. That’s the same mark as names like Brian Elliott and Braden Holtby (albeit in a smaller sample). His rough first couple of performances may depress his ownership, too.