Welcome to December! The NHL is kicking off a new month with…barely any hockey. There are only two games on the slate Friday. Even so, DFS opportunities abound. Here are my players to target, and to avoid, for your lineups.
Vitek Vanecek, NJD vs. SAN ($26): The goaltending options are utterly brutal, but there is hope, and that hope is in the shape of one of the worst NHL offenses in recent memory. San Jose is last in goals and shots on net per game, and also on the road for the second leg of a back-to-back. Granted, the Devils are on the second leg of a back-to-back as well, but at least they are at home.
GOALIE TO AVOID
Elvis Merzlikins, CLM vs. OTT ($21): Merzlikins has a .907 save percentage, relatively high compared to the other goaltending options, but not sufficient when your team has allowed 33.5 shots on net per game. There's a reason why Merzlikins has a 3.11 GAA. Ottawa's offense has done what it can to carry the team, having averaged 3.47 goals and 32.1 shots on target per contest.
Nico Hischier, NJD vs. SAN ($22): Hischier has had a frustrating time in a season wherein he hoped to build upon breaking through as a high-level NHL center capable of average a point per game and contending for the Selke. Injuries have hindered the Swiss pivot, but since returning he has five points in three games. Now, he can try to make up for lost time against a Sharks team that, oh yeah, is also last in GAA and shots on net allowed per contest.
CENTER TO AVOID
Boone Jenner, CLM vs. OTT ($18): The flip side of a day replete with dodgy goaltending is that players worth avoiding are harder to come by. Of course, DFS players aren't likely to complain about that. There are some options I am, let's say, less enthused about. Jenner has 11 goals, but only five assists, and his 16.2 shooting percentage will likely regress, given his career 10.6 shooting percentage. Joonas Korpisalo has struggled, but maybe he get's hyped to face his former team? That's armchair psychology, sure, but it's something.
Jesper Bratt, NJD vs. SAN ($25): Bratt is racking up points at an even higher rate than usual, with 25 points in 21 games. That includes 16 points on the power play. The Sharks, unsurprisingly, have a bottom-five penalty kill.
Mathieu Joseph, OTT at CLM ($17): Joseph has moved up to the second line for the Senators, and that has led to him having averaged 17:00 per game in ice time, a full three minute uptick from last year. That's with limited power-play time, which is actually a plus here. The Blue Jackets have a top-five penalty kill, but still has a 3.42 GAA and have allowed 33.5 shots on net per contest. Joseph has 15 points in 17 games, and none of them have come with the extra man.
WINGS TO AVOID
Drake Batherson, OTT at CLM ($17): Batherson is on the flip side of Joseph. He tallied 29 of his 62 points on the power play last year, and five of his 12 points this season. Columbus' top-five penalty kill could be legit, or at least somewhat legit. In the past San Jose has had strong penalty kills even though the team allowed plenty of goals overall.
Mike Hoffman, SAN at NJD ($13): Hoffman has six goals over his last eight games, but that's on a mere 16 shots on net. He won't keep shooting like this. After all, Hoffman posted a 9.6 shooting percentage over the prior two seasons. He also happens to be on the road for the second leg of a back-to-back.
Jakob Chychrun, OTT at CLM ($21): Chychrun has done a good job of putting shots on net. He's done it 42 times in 17 games, and blocked 29 shots as well. As noted, the Blue Jackets have given up 33.5 shots on goal per game. Also, the return of Thomas Chabot won't hurt Chychrun's upside, since they play on different sides defensively and Chychrun already isn't on the top power-play unit.
Luke Hughes, NJD vs. SAN ($15): Luke is what his brother Quinn was when he started out in the NHL, before his evolution into arguably the best offensive defenseman in the league. Namely, Luke is a power-play specialist, but he's tallied seven points with the extra man, including two in his last three outings. San Jose's penalty kill is no threat, and if Dougie Hamilton remains out, or limited, that could mean even more minutes for Hughes on the power play.
DEFENSE TO AVOID
Thomas Chabot, OTT at CLM ($17): Chabot is returning from his hand injury, but I wouldn't rush him into my lineup even in a matchup that is far from imposing. I'd wait and see how he looks, especially since over the last two years he's been heavily reliant on the power play for production. Plus, I wonder how a hand injury will impact, you know, all the stuff a defenseman needs his hands to do.
Calen Addison, SAN at NJD ($12): Addison is perhaps as reliant on the power play as any defenseman in the NHL for production. As a rookie, 18 of his 29 points came on the power play. Since being traded to the Sharks three of his four points in 11 games have all come with the extra man. Now, the Devils haven't been good on the penalty kill, but last year with roughly the same roster and same coaching staff they ranked fourth. Plus, maybe the Sharks don't get much time on the power play. That's far from a given, and Addison is not a threat otherwise.