This article is one in a series that uses the FantasyLabs Tools to build daily fantasy scouting reports for each of the NHL’s brightest stars.
The Washington Capitals find themselves in a very familiar situation — the odds-on favorite to win the Presidents’ Trophy — and Nicklas Backstrom centers one of the hottest lines in the NHL over the past month with Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie.
Ovechkin: DFS Scouting Report
How has Backstrom done this year alongside his teammates? Let’s look at the data.
Here are Backstrom’s per-game averages for the past three years:
Backstrom’s floor is scary due to his reluctance to block shots relative to other centermen (29th percentile overall), and his goal-scoring upside is likely capped by his failure to attempt more than two shots per game.
That said, Backstrom is one of the elite setup men in the NHL, but relying solely on points can be a slippery slope in NHL DFS. Intriguingly, Ovechkin’s significant decrease in goals this year hasn’t led to a decrease in assists for Backstrom. In fact, he has more assists this year and a higher DraftKings Plus/Minus (per our Trends tool):
- 2016-17: -0.3 Plus/Minus
- 1015-16: +0.1 Plus/Minus
It’s no secret that Backstrom generally profits from correlations with his linemates. Let’s see if there are particular situations in which he has historically provided an edge.
However, it’s hard to say that Backstrom has provided much value at home, and it’s notable that he has diminished ownership and elevated consistency on the road.
Division/non-division splits are typically meaningless for power play (PP) centers, and Backstrom has a -0.1 Plus/Minus across both situations even though Ovechkin has historically smashed in non-division games. One might think that dominance would translate to Backstrom, but it doesn’t.
However — like Ovi — Backstrom has terrorized the Central Division in particular:
For a player yet to be in the Stanley Cup Finals, Backstrom has played on some phenomenal regular-season teams. He has played in just 22 games over the past two seasons as a Vegas underdog.
Historically, there’s not much of an edge in targeting DraftKings centers as underdogs. However, like Ovechkin, Backstrom has crushed value in this situation:
With much higher Consistency and slightly reduced ownership, Backstrom has to date been one of the rate NHL players who provide value in both cash games and guaranteed prize pools as an underdog.
Recent Peripheral Stats
Let’s dig into Backstrom’s recent peripheral stats as well as assists:
Over the past two weeks his blocks are down, but he has now spiked all the way to the 83rd percentile in shots and moved from the 40th percentile in assists per month to the 80th.
Backstrom’s DraftKings Plus/Minus and Consistency have benefited greatly from Ovechkin’s five goals over this span:
That said, his price has risen on both DraftKings & FanDuel (where he’s had a relatively flat Bargain Rating). If he can maintain this production he may still have value in WAS1 stacks in GPPs, but his peripherals make him risky in cash games at his price.
Stacking the Capitals
Here’s the average production for Washington players during Backstrom’s 20 best fantasy performances over the past two seasons:
In case you missed the theme of the article, when Backstrom has done well his linemates usually have too.
Backstrom’s correlations tab (in our Player Models) more or less reflects the data we see above. They aren’t cheap, but Ovechkin (0.39) and Oshie (0.47) both have strong correlations with Backstrom.
In Washington’s high-flying offense, Backstrom is probably underrated from a real hockey perspective. However, his lack of peripheral stats make him slightly less appealing in DFS, even after his elite assist and play-making ability alongside one of the top pure goal scorers in NHL history is taken into account.
Backstrom has typical home/away and division/non-division splits, but he has performed well against the Central Division and provided great value as an underdog. At his current price he may be too risky for cash games, but he has GPP-winning upside as a stacking candidate with his linemates Ovechkin and Oshie.