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DraftKings picks: Zuccarello in prime spot

Rangers wing has 17 points in 18 games against Hurricanes; DFS targets

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / NHL.com Fantasy Insider

DraftKings Daily Picks: Thursday

DraftKings Daily NHL Picks for Thursday

The NHL Tonight crew makes its picks for top DraftKings players for Thursday night including Kevin Ward and Brian Kadri

  • 01:08 •

CENTERS

Spend up for: Jeff Carter, Los Angeles Kings ($6,300)

Carter is back on the top line with Milan Lucic and Tyler Toffoli and also plays on the first power-play unit with Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Co., so he's in prime position for high-end DFS production against the Calgary Flames. He has at least four shots on goal in each of his past four games with 22 SOG in that span. He's close to a point per game at Staples Center (31 points in 36 games) and is seventh among centers in price. The Flames, who are on the second of a back-to-back set, allow the most DraftKings points to opposing centers.

Value pick: Nick Bjugstad, Florida Panthers ($4,500)

Bjugstad played in Vincent Trocheck's spot centering Jussi Jokinen and Reilly Smith on the Panthers' second line after Trocheck was injured Tuesday. With Trocheck sidelined, Bjugstad is a must-have value player. He already plays on Florida's first power-play unit with top liners Aleksander Barkov, Jaromir Jagr and Jonathan Huberdeau, and has a chance to boost his even-strength production as well. Bjugstad, priced outside the top 30 centers in DraftKings, has seven points, one block and 21 SOG in his past 10 games for 2.8 DraftKings points per game.

WINGS

Spend up for: Mats Zuccarello, New York Rangers ($6,000)

Zuccarello is playing on the Rangers' second line with Derek Stepan and J.T. Miller, and has been productive in his career against the Carolina Hurricanes. He has one goal, one assist, two blocks and four SOG in three games against them this season, and 17 points in 18 career games. With much of the attention on Eric Staal in his return to Carolina, don't be surprised to see one of the Rangers' other lines do damage with an opportunity to clinch a Stanley Cup Playoff berth.

Value pick: Sam Reinhart, Buffalo Sabres ($4,500)

With Evander Kane (upper body) done for the season, the Sabres will likely continue to stack their top forwards with Reinhart, Ryan O'Reilly and Jack Eichel on the same line. That means Reinhart is in a position to exceed DraftKings expectations and return value against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He has two assists, one block and three SOG in three games against them and has goals in each of his past two home games. While his season average in DraftKings points per contest (2.6) is ordinary, he has exploded in his past 10 games with eight points, 29 SOG, six blocks (3.8).

DEFENSEMEN

Spend up for: Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins ($7,100)

Letang is a DFS lineup lock and should be the starting point for your roster ahead of this 10-game slate. He ranks first among defensemen in points since Jan. 1 (40 points in 38 games) and tied for fourth among skaters behind Sidney Crosby, Joe Thornton and Evgeny Kuznetsov in that span. He's fourth among defensemen and tied for 11th among skaters in price Wednesday. His performance Tuesday proved how valuable he can be even when he doesn't score a goal; he had a shorthanded assist, two blocks and eight SOG for 8.2 DraftKings points.

Value pick: Ryan Murray, Columbus Blue Jackets ($3,900)

Some defensemen priced below $4,000 can be key components of successful DFS lineups, even if they don't post goals or assists. They allow you to take advantage of strong peripheral coverage and free up salary cap space to spend up at other positions. Murray is a recent example of that strategy paying off, with one point in his past 10 games but 24 blocks and 23 SOG in the span (2.6 DraftKings points). He has at least 2.5 DraftKings points in four of his past five games, and is playing more than 24 minutes per game in his past 10 compared to 22:46 per game on average this season.

GOALIES

Spend up for: Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning ($8,300)

Bishop is 0-1-1 with seven goals allowed against the Montreal Canadiens this season, but one of those starts came Dec. 28 and the other Feb. 9. The Canadiens have since been eliminated from postseason contention and have allowed 24 goals in their past six games. Bishop is 10-2-3 with a .933 save percentage against them in the regular season in his career and allowed two goals or fewer five times in Tampa Bay's six-game playoff series win against the Canadiens in 2015.

Value pick: Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks ($7,300)

It's tough to understand why Jones is still this affordable. He's third in the NHL with 36 wins in 62 starts. Among the 17 goalies with more than 50 games played this season, Jones ranks fifth in goals-against average (2.25), 10th in SV% (.919) and tied for third in shutouts (five). He's 2-0-0 with three goals allowed (.944 SV%) against the Vancouver Canucks this season and is 6-4-0 with a .931 SV% in his past 10 games.

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