The NHL DFS Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.

Wednesday is the second night of the 2021-2022 NHL season and has a five-game main slate that starts at 7:00 pm ET.

Looking for Thursday’s NHL DFS main slate breakdown? Click here.

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Top Plays

John Tavares ($7,000 DraftKings, $7,200 FanDuel) vs. Montreal Canadiens

The Maple Leafs are beginning the season without Auston Matthews, who is now set to miss three games with a wrist injury. We can expect John Tavares’ workload to be significant for the start of the season and the matchup here against the Canadiens looks a lot better suddenly with Jake Allen (.907 save percentage last year) starting vs. Carey Price.

From a projections standpoint, Tavares remains one of six centers on this slate with a Median Projection over 6.0, a floor over 4.0, and a ceiling of 8.0 or better in the FantasyLabs Models. The Leafs should be leaning heavily on their first powerplay unit here, and they enter this game with the third-highest implied team total on the slate. His 2.86 shots per game from last year and 13.18 CorsiFor put him squarely in the top five at his position as well.

All things considered, his price doesn’t really have the Matthews absence baked in (it will next slate likely) so take advantage here.

Connor McDavid ($8,300 DraftKings, $8,800 FanDuel) vs. Vancouver Canucks

I’m not sure how much analysis we need here. Connor McDavid is only $8,300 tonight on DraftKings. I could stop there, but here are some other reasons to play him. He’s got the highest Median, Ceiling, and Floor Projection in our models. Additionally, McDavid has the best CorsiFor Rating (that’s 2.0 points higher than his teammate Leon Draisaitl, who has the second-best rating) and is playing on the team with the biggest implied team total of the slate according to the NHL Vegas Dashboard.

Even if this slate weren’t missing two big names in Auston Matthews (wrist) and Nathan McKinnon (COVID), McDavid would still be criminally underpriced here against a Vancouver team that has allowed the most scoring chances against since the start of the 2020 season.

We’ll see how he gels with new line-mate Zach Hyman early on, but for now, McDavid remains the trump card for NHL DFS on these kinds of slates.


Top Values

Christian Dvorak ($4,000 DraftKings, $4,400 FanDuel) vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

Christian Dvorak moved from the Coyotes to the Canadiens over the offseason, and when you look at Montreal’s depth chart down the middle this year, you quickly realize that he’s likely going to be a pivotal player for them. While Nick Suzuki is likely locked into the No. 1 role, Dvorak has almost no competition for the No. 2 position. Dvorak has produced at a decent clip for his career (considering he was on the Coyotes) and brings a 13.6% shooting rate and 0.48 ppg mark into Montreal.

He’s set to start this season, though, in more of a defined offensive role between two clearly defined and talented offensive players in Josh Anderson and Jonathan Drouin. As you can probably guess, Dvorak has a great projection for tonight (why else would I be talking about him), and there are a couple of things that stand out about him. Particularly, his production on the powerplay where he’s got the fifth-best goal rate of any center on the slate.

The cheap price tag here and increased opportunity that should come right away on his new team makes him a great play on his own, and his entire line is an excellent option if looking for a value stack tonight to round out lineups.

Wing

Top Plays

Mikko Rantanen ($7,500 DraftKings, $8,200 FanDuel) vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

The Avalanche got the news last night that Nathan MacKinnon will be out at least one game with COVID and that caused the Vegas odds on this game to… barely move. That’s at least partly because Colorado still has a plethora of skill players to lean on with MacKinnon out, with Mikko Rantanen being the most obvious name to fill in up front. Rantanen enters this slate with the second-highest shots per game average of all wingers over the last 12 months, and his shot opportunity without MacKinnon in the lineup should go up here as well.

The top three wingers in the FantasyLabs Model are all close in projections today. Still, we can lean on Rantenen’s superior shot and goal rate over Mitch Marner here (Marner is also a little banged up after leaving practice early yesterday as well). Rantanen grades out well, is cheaper than Marner, and is playing as a -210 favorite here (biggest on the slate) on a team with a 3.5 implied puck total.

Considering the alternatives and the close projections up top at wing (which have Rantanen top-three in median, ceiling, and floor), I like leaning on Rantanen in what is a deep winger pool today.


Top Values

Josh Anderson ($4,500 DraftKings, $4,700 FanDuel) vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

Josh Anderson is coming off a great season where he averaged a career-high 0.33 goals per game and now finds himself locked into a more offensive role to start the season. While his lack of assists is always a concern if you’re considering him cash games, the FantasyLabs Model does spit out a big Ceiling Projection for him tonight, which has him rated fifth-best in that regard (as of writing).

The Canadiens don’t have a dominant top line that eats up 20+ minutes a night (or at least they don’t most games), and that absence seems to be what’s leading this Montreal second line to such good projections this evening. That, and the fact Anderson is super cheap but also carries solid shot metrics and is slotted into a role which should see him get plenty of ice at both even strength and on the man advantage.

Anderson and the Canadiens’ second line is most certainly in play tonight as a secondary stack to work around whichever studs you pay up for tonight.

Anthony Mantha ($4,800 DraftKings, $4,800 FanDuel) vs. New York Rangers

As of writing, Alex Ovechkin was questionable to play in the opener for the Capitals. If he were to miss, that would make Mantha one of the best values on this slate. The former Red Wing has a solid 2.58 shots per game mark over the last 12 months and already ranks out with solid ratings in median points and ceiling for today. Based on line assignments and practice from preseason, Mantha should see first-line powerplay time, regardless of if Ovechkin plays tonight, but his stock will obviously shoot up by a ton if Ovi were to miss.

At under $5,000 in price on DraftKings, Mantha’s upside is heavily linked to injury news, but he should be someone you lean heavily on if Ovechkin misses. Ovechkin’s absence would leave an extra 4.1 SOG on the ice. Expect Mantha (another higher volume shooter) to gobble up those opportunities if he misses.

Defense

Top Plays

Tyson Barrie ($5,900 DraftKings, $4,600 FanDuel) vs. Vancouver Canucks

The Oilers rate out as the top team in the Vegas Dashboard with a hefty 3.8 implied goal total for tonight. The Oilers maintained their position as one of the best powerplays in the league last season, and if you go by what Duncan Keith said recently, it may even be better this year.

Last year, Tyson Barrie was an absolute masher on the man advantage, grabbing 23 points with the man advantage (just under half of his 48 on the season). The Canucks rated below average in killing penalties last year (and in most defensive categories), so this is the kind of matchup we like for the more one-dimensional Barrie.

The FantasyLabs Models agree with me here as Barrie’s Median Projection and ceiling totals are over a full point higher (as of writing) than anyone else at his position. Yet, he rates out with just the sixth-highest salary on DraftKings tonight. Some nights we might pine over whether to pay up for two of the Oilers’ powerplay studs, but this isn’t one of those nights.

Like his captain, Barrie rates out as the clear best play at his position and shouldn’t be too hard to get into lineups with softer pricing for night two.


Top Values

Samuel Girard ($4,700 DraftKings, $3,500 FanDuel) vs. Chicago Blackhawks

The Avalanche have a whole bevy of options to turn to on the backend, but it is worth noting that they’ll start the season without Devon Toews. When injuries happened last year, Samuel Girard stepped up and produced his best offensive season (from an average production standpoint), grabbing 32 points in just 48 games.

Girard isn’t going to supplant Cale Makar on the first team powerplay, but he will be playing big minutes alongside him at even strength and should get second-unit powerplay minutes as well. He’ll also be facing the Blackhawks, who have allowed the second-most scoring chances against over the last two seasons of play.

Girard’s not an elite shot-blocker, but he is skilled and could get a little more powerplay action tonight with Nathan MacKinnon out. He grades out super strong and with one of the top projected Ceiling and Median Projections tonight at his position, making him the elite value target on defense today.

Kevin Shattenkirk ($3,600 DraftKings, $3,600 FanDuel) vs. Winnipeg Jets

If you’re looking to punt on defense, which can often be an effective strategy, then Shattenkirk certainly looks to be the player you should be targeting. The veteran looks set to be a pretty large part of a weaker Ducks defensive core again and has a strong CorsiFor Rating that puts him near the elites at his position in that regard.

Shattenkirk was anchoring the Ducks powerplay towards the end of last season. While he looks set to be more of a second-unit player to begin the year, the Ducks are a team that will likely rotate their defenses special teams usage a lot during the season as they don’t have a dominant number one on the backend.

The Ducks aren’t an offensive powerhouse, but the price here is obviously attractive enough on its own. The Jets are also a decent matchup given how many quality scoring chances they gave up last season (fourth-most in the regular season). Shattenkirk’s upward ratings should be viewed positively in this spot, and he stands out as the superior option of any D-man under $4,000 on DraftKings today.

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Goalies

Be sure to check the Starting Goalie Page throughout the day to see which goalies are confirmed starters.

Top Plays

Jack Campbell ($8,100 DraftKings, $8,100 FanDuel) vs. Montreal Canadiens

The Maple Leafs catch the Canadiens at a solid time tonight as they’re likely still reeling from losing their No. 1 goalie just before the season started. Toronto has endured a blow of its own by losing Auston Matthews, but even with the prolific goal scorer out, the Leafs still remain as big -178 favorites.

One big reason why that number likely hasn’t moved is the edge Toronto has in the net. While there are bigger favorites to chase on this slate, Jack Campbell is coming off a big season where he sported a .925 save percentage and looks poised to continue working as the Leafs’ No. 1.

Montreal got a lot of pucks on net last year (seventh in shots on net), and one edge Campbell does have on Darcy Kuemper for fantasy purposes is that he’s playing behind a worse defense who are likely to give him more save chances. NHL goalies are generally a spot we want to pay up (unless using some kind of leverage angle in GPPs).

Campbell ticks all the boxes here as a big favorite who isn’t the most expensive player on the slate yet projects among the top at his position.


Top Values

Marc Andre-Fleury ($7,500 DraftKings, $7,300 FanDuel) vs. Colorado Avalanche

When we’re looking to underdogs to target, a big factor has to be the number of shots said goalie will face. Marc Andre-Fleury has the biggest Shots Faced Prediction in the FantasyLabs Models for tonight, and it currently has him going for over 35 shots against. That kind of volume obviously gets us into the bonus category on DraftKings and makes it far more worth our while to chase him as a big underdog (Chicago is +170 as of writing).

Fleury is coming off a banner season where he posted a career-best .928 save percentage and will face a MacKinnon-less Avs team.

He makes for the preferred pay-down option tonight in GPPs, where any kind of big Chicago win could really pay off if you choose to use him along with some of their elite scoring forwards.

Notable Stacks

With Lineup Builder, it’s easy to incorporate stacks into our DFS lineups for tournaments.

We’ve already mentioned two of the Oilers’ big names to target on this slate, so it should come as no surprise here that they’re grading out as the best stack to target (by a lot). The Oilers have three big names that see a ton of powerplay time together in McDavid, Draisaitl, and Barrie, but we can also target one of their big two centers wingers now as well. The whole world will be waiting to see how Zach Hyman looks alongside McDavid, and he rates out as a solid ceiling play and value on this slate.

Price isn’t a huge issue tonight with the Oilers either. Both Hyman and Barrie are under $6,000 on DrafKings. We also have both Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Kailer Yamamoto as options as they’re both set to start the season alongside Draisaitl on the effective second line. Nugent-Hopkins is the safer play here as he’s still expected to be a part of the lethal Oilers powerplay. It should be noted that Yamamoto and he don’t differ much in projections.

If you’re thinking of playing the big three (McDavid, Drasaitl, and Barrie) together, using a second-line winger should give you a little more uniqueness for GPPs, but if you’re dropping Draisaitl, using Hyman here is a must to complete this stack.