NHL Power Plays 12/23/16

It’s the last day of NHL hockey before the Christmas break. This 12-game slate has a lot of teams playing a back-to-back as well as a lot of heavy home favourites. Most of these options will be an attempt to avoid some of the obvious options.

*Note: Salary prices are for FantasyDraft

Centre

Auston Matthews (TOR) – $16,000

Despite being on a back-to-back on the road, this is a good situation for the Maple Leafs. Not only does Arizona allow the most adjusted shot attempts per minute at five-on-five, the Coyotes are also giving up the tenth-most shot attempts per minute while short-handed.

In comparison to fellow elite options like Connor McDavid, Patrick Kane, and Alex Ovechkin, Matthews is out-scoring them on the season by FantasyDraft point per game. He is expensive, but with the plethora of very cheap options on the slate, getting the player averaging over 3.5 shots per game is a good start to setting lineups.

Frank Vatrano (BOS) – $6,800

In his first game on the season returning from injury, Vatrano pretty much picked up where he left off with two shots on goal, and one goal, against Florida. He did this playing on the third line, where he should be skating again tonight.

For the DFS players unaware of Vatrano’s production, he has 58 points in his last 43 games in the American Hockey League. In a Boston uniform last year, Vatrano averaged over 2.5 shots per game while playing under 14 minutes a game. He is a goal-scorer, and a shooter, which lends itself to good fantasy value. Playing in a back-to-back situation on the road is a tough matchup for tonight, but at his price, it’s hard to ignore Vatrano for how easily he can help get in the more expensive options.

Winger

Phillip Danault (MON) – $7,800

With all the injuries to the Montreal centre position, it’s been up to Phillip Danault of late to skate on the top line for the Habs. That means skating between Alex Radulov and Max Pacioretty, both at five-on-five, and with spare power-play time.

There is nothing special about Danault as an NHLer. He’s not like Vatrano; a player that can fill the shot tally. He is playing with the two most-talented wingers that Montreal has, however, and he’s playing around 16 minutes a game doing so. Going into Columbus, another team on a back-to-back, isn’t a great situation, but considering his price, it’s hard to get away from Danault tonight. He provides good salary relief on a large slate.

Bryan Rust (PIT) – $10,300

It’s tough rostering a Penguins player that is over $10,000 and doesn’t play the top power-play unit. However, skating on the top line with Sidney Crosby, and being at home to a poor Devils team, this is a good situation for Rust tonight.

Since joining Crosby on the top line, Rust has played at least 14 minutes in both games, totalling seven shots on goal. The total ice time isn’t particularly attractive, but skating on a top line with the top centre in hockey, while hosting a non-playoff team that is likely starting their backup goalie, is a good spot to grab this winger.

Anders Lee (NYI) – $9,500

One of the teams that is not playing their second game in as many nights, the Islanders are hosting the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. Buffalo was a team that played on Thursday, so that gives a leg up on the Islanders out of the gate.

For a few games now, Lee has been playing on the top line with John Tavares. Over his last four seasons with the Islanders, Lee has averaged about 2.21 points per 60 minutes at five-on-five while skating with their top centre. For a reference, that would rank around the top-30 forwards in that regard so far this year. The two forwards clearly have chemistry, and being able to use Lee is a nice cap-saving move that gets exposure to one of the top centres in the game.

Justin Schultz (PIT) – $10,500

While his price has climbed, at this point, it’s hard to leave Schultz off of cash game rosters. He is playing over 20 minutes a game with regularity, which helps rack up the shots on goal and the blocked shots. He’s also playing the top power-play unit for the Penguins, which is about the best situation there is for an NHL defenceman.

The Penguins host the New Jersey Devils tonight, a team that allows more adjusted shot attempts at five-on-five than the Canucks or Sabres. Both teams are on the back-to-back, but the home team will always have the advantage. Given the price and situation, Schultz should be a staple of lineups tonight.

Brent Burns (SJS) – $17,300

The price on Burns is one of the highest of the slate tonight. Given all the cheap options on the board, it’s not difficult to roster him, either.

Burns has the highest floor of any player in the NHL. That is part of the reason why his price is so high. He’s also nearly a point-per-game player over the last two seasons, which is another reason why his price is where it is. They do catch the Oilers playing their third road game this week, which is a good spot for the Sharks. The safety in the points that Burns can provide is the price DFS owners have to pay, and it’s worth the cost.

Florida Goaltending – $15,700

It should be Roberto Luongo starting tonight for the Panthers, and that’s part of the appeal of rostering the Florida goaltending tonight. The rest of the appeal is that they’re hosting the Detroit Red Wings, a team that is in the bottom-5 for shots on goal per minute so far this year. Relying on a shutout is always a dangerous proposition in fantasy hockey, but Luongo seems to be in as good a spot as any goalie to do so tonight. His low cost, combined with the team’s matchup, is the appeal tonight.