DraftKings Daily Fantasy NHL Helper for 1/21/21

Friday's slate has eight games on it, so we get a nice amount of hockey to take us into the weekend. Let's look at two studs, two values and a goalie on DraftKings who can help us win tonight.

High Salary Skaters

Nathan MacKinnon ($8,500): Shockingly, MacKinnon is a great play again tonight. While there are a lot of stars at center on this slate and some are in really good spots, not many match the spot MacKinnon is in. His Colorado Avalanche will take on the Anaheim Ducks, who have not played a whole lot of defense to start the year. They've allowed the third most shot attempts against per 60 minutes, the third most expected goals against per 60, and the most high danger chances per 60 minutes, according to Natural Stat Trick. That's bad news against MacKinnon and an Avs team that is eighth in expected goal rate and ninth in high danger chance rate, with the expectation that those numbers will rise given their talent. MacKinnon himself has been dominating, with multiple real-world points in each of his last three games and getting the five-shot DraftKings bonus in two of those three. With the Avs as -196 favorites and MacKinnon playing as well as he has, he stands out above the rest of the centers tonight.

John Tavares ($6,600): While MacKinnon may be the best raw play at center, Tavares stands out as a guy whose salary is too low given the circumstances. With Auston Matthews set to miss this game, Tavares becomes the number-one center. Tavares was already off to a good start, with six points in five games, one more than Matthews has. However, Matthews was getting 23:24 of ice time a night, the fourth most among forwards. Tavares was down at 17:38. With Matthews out, Tavares should see his ice time increase. To what degree it increases remains to be seen, but any bump is welcome against an Edmonton Oilers team that has allowed the most shot attempts per 60 minutes this season. The Toronto Maple Leafs still have a high implied team total despite Matthews' missing, so Tavares and company should be able to produce some points.

Value Skaters

Alexis Lafreniere ($3,400): Lafreniere has yet to pick up a point over his first three games in the NHL, but he has a few things going in his favor that could lead to him having success tonight. He's been moved up to the New York Rangers' top line to play on the right wing with Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad. We've seen Pavel Buchnevich have success in this role in the past, so this is a good opportunity for the first overall pick to show his talent. He will also be on the second power-play unit and has shown flashes of the skill we expected on the man advantage. He'll also take on the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have struggled defensively this season. They've allowed 4.5 goals per game, the third most in the league. The Penguins will turn back to Tristan Jarry in net. He has been brutal to start the season, holding a 7.57 goals against average and .727% save percentage. Lafreniere has a chance at his first breakout game in the NHL.

Ryan Donato ($2,500): Donato seems to be a forgotten man in the NHL. There was a lot of hype around him after he scored five goals in the 2018 Olympics, but he hasn't totally delivered at the pro level yet. He's been traded by the Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild, and he now finds himself with the San Jose Sharks. His season with the Wild last year wasn't terrible, as he scored 14 goals in 62 games for a team that usually struggles for offense. A positive sign for his fantasy value is that he had an individual shot attempt rate of 16.83 per 60 minutes, the second highest on Minnesota last season. That was also a higher rate than the likes of Evander Kane, Jack Eichel and Matthew Tkachuk -- guys we think of as shooting machines. Donato will play on the second line and second power-play unit for San Jose tonight, with solid linemates in Logan Couture and Kevin Labanc. It is a revenge game against the Wild, and given that we know he loves to shoot, Donato could score one against his former team for the dead minimum salary on DraftKings tonight.

Goalie to Target

Linus Ullmark ($7,600): Ullmark is an interesting goalie to take a shot on. He allowed just two goals to the Washington Capitals in his only game this season, and he will be facing them again tonight. However, this time Washington will be without Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov due to COVID protocols. Ovechkin and Kuznetsov are two of Washington's most dangerous offensive players. This has shifted the odds in the favor of the Buffalo Sabres, making them a -124 favorite. The $7,600 salary doesn't reflect what we normally see of a favored goalie, so we can take advantage of that and play Ullmark in this unique spot.

Nicholas Vazquez is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Nicholas Vazquez also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username hbyanksman. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.