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Fantasy Hockey Cheat Sheet: Top DraftKings NHL DFS Picks, Lineup Strategy for April 1

Matt Meiselman gives his top NHL picks and lineup advice for Thursday’s fantasy hockey slate on DraftKings, which starts at 7:00 p.m. ET.

Thursday night in the NHL has been one of the busiest hockey days of the week, and that trend continues this week with a nine-game Thursday slate. There’s a large divide in matchup quality for some of the top teams tonight, as the Bruins and Penguins will go head-to-head while the Rangers are getting the lowly Sabres, though Buffalo did finally snap its long losing streak with a win over the Flyers on Wednesday. Thursday’s slate locks at 7:00 p.m. ET on DraftKings, and you can read more about some of the key elements below!

Set your DraftKings fantasy hockey lineups here: NHL $40K Sticks [$10K to 1st]


Top Line Stacks

New York Rangers

Mika Zibanejad ($7,900) - Chris Kreider ($5,800) - Pavel Buchnevich ($6,100)

The Rangers have really turned it around after starting the season extremely slow, with a huge portion of the credit belonging to Mika Zibanejad. Zibanejad had just two goals and four assists through his first 19 games (spanning January and February) but he’s seemingly flipped a switch, scoring nine goals and registering 12 assists in March. As far as tonight goes, the matchup couldn’t really be any better than facing the Sabres. Buffalo did finally win a game last night, but this is now the second night of a back-to-back for them which only serves to help the Rangers. This line will surely be popular, but it’s probably the best dollar-for-dollar stack of the slate, at least from the high end of the salary range.


Stars to Build Around

Artemi Panarin ($8,000)

Sticking with the Rangers theme, the reasons to like Panarin are the same as the ones mentioned for the first line above. Panarin’s linemates aren’t as good as Zibanejad’s, so he’s not really part of as good of a line stack, but his individual talent makes him arguably the best one-off option of the day. Panarin also plays on the first power play so it probably makes sense to include him in lineups with some of the Rangers’ first liners, as well as defenseman Adam Fox ($6,700).

Patrick Kane ($8,200)

Kane’s matchup is far less appealing than Panarin’s, as his Blackhawks are up against one of the best teams in the NHL in the Carolina Hurricanes. The benefit is that Kane should be among the lowest owned studs on the slate, and his upside from game-to-game is on par with any player in the NHL. Kane can certainly put up a big game even against a team as good as Carolina, especially if the Blackhawks wind up with a few power play opportunities.


Value on Offense

Brett Connolly ($2,800)

The Panthers’ lineup is missing several key players, and as a result there’s a lot of additional opportunities for guys that normally play on their depth lines. Brett Connolly is probably the biggest beneficiary on the team, as he’s playing on a line with the only real star the Panthers have left in Jonathan Huberdeau ($7,400), at least until Alexander Barkov returns to the lineup. Connolly is simply priced too cheap for his role, and although he’s going to be popular as a result, he has a high probability of success due to the strong matchup at home against the Red Wings.


Stud Goalies

Andrei Vasilevskiy ($8,500)

The Lightning lost at home to the Blue Jackets in their last game, but that was with backup goaltender Curtis McElhinney in net, and there’s a much lower likelihood of them losing in this spot again with Vasilevskiy between the pipes. Vasilevskiy is the current frontrunner for the Vezina Trophy, and while it’s seemingly an obvious spot to play him with the Lightning being such a large favorite, his high price tag could serve to keep his ownership in check. Either way, Vasilevskiy is probably the most likely to pick up a win of any goalie on Thursday’s slate.


Value on Defense

Connor Murphy ($4,200)

Murphy is probably an unfamiliar choice to most NHL DFS players, but he’s been racking up some large fantasy totals for the Blackhawks in recent games and his price is just lower than it should be. Murphy has topped 17 fantasy points in three of his last five while playing top-pair minutes, and playing a team that generates as many shots as Carolina should make him a safe bet for the three-block bonus.


Power-Play Defenseman

Dougie Hamilton ($7,400)

Hamilton is expensive, but he’s in a great spot against the Blackhawks’ mediocre defense and his high price should help to keep his ownership in check. Hamilton has been on a run of recording an assist almost every game, and he’s had some large fantasy scores despite not actually finding the back of the net himself. If he does actually score a goal tonight, it’s fairly likely he’ll wind up being among the highest scoring defenseman on the slate.

Set your DraftKings fantasy hockey lineups here: NHL $40K Sticks [$10K to 1st]


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All views expressed are my own. I am an employee of DraftKings and am ineligible to play in public DFS or DKSB contests.