Some Key Strategy Concepts For Newer NHL DFS Players On DraftKings

You can find me on Twitter @DanH720.

I figured it might be a good idea to sit down and go over some key concepts to grasp as we prepare for our first NHL slate this coming Wednesday, January 13th!  Disclaimer-If you consider yourself a more intermediate to advanced player in NHL DFS, this may not be the article for you.

The first few times I played NHL DFS, even being a fan who follows the game closely, it was often very confusing and sometimes overwhelming.  While it is the one team DFS sport that one can benefit the most from watching, it is far from a requirement to be successful.  Ideally, we will use analytics mostly, some narratives and game watching in a sound approach be it more geared towards cashgames(5050/doubleup/h2h) or GPP/tournaments.  Over time you will become more familiar with coaching and team tendencies in a similar way you may for other DFS sports.  Let's get after it here on some foundational concepts for a successful and profitable season!

1. Don't always pay up for a goalie...

This used to not be the case until DraftKings introduced the 35 save bonus. Let's take a quick peek at goaltender scoring on DK while keeping in mind this is the most unpredictable position of them all in this sport and thus I don't recommend making it a focal point of research or anything, especially in comparison to the other positions.

Let's take a good look at this table below here and do some simple math to back this up.  Obviously, a win does get your goalie six points and while that helps, it is not everything because a decent amount of the time these goalies are not facing a significant shot volume, which means fewer saves(0.7 pts/save they do add up!) and/or have a really solid defensive team playing in front of them as well(suppressing shot volume also). You might be starting to see the theme here of shot volume a goalie faces.

Goalies on DK


+6 Pts


+0.7 Pts

Goal Against

-3.5 Pts

Shutout Bonus

+4 Pts

Overtime Loss

+2 Pts

35+ Saves

+3 Pts

Goalie A-$8.4k salary, facing 25 shots, giving up 1 goal in Reg/No OT= 20 pts with a Win, 14 pts with a Loss.

Goalie B-$7.2k salary, facing 40+ shots, giving up 3 goals,+35 save bonus and L in Reg=20.5 pts, 26 pts with a Win.

My goal here was to show how important shot volume is basically. And if you want to go a little deeper, you'd look at a goalie facing a team with great possession numbers(xCF/60 as a team) but a relatively low (xGF/60) as this is trending to be a matchup dream for goalies, as it screams of a team putting a lot of mostly lower quality shots on net.  Look at Montreal last season, perfect example.  

2. Some things to think about when rostering defenseman, etc.

When you start building your NHL lineups, you'll probably find yourself unsure what to do with the Utility position which can be one of any center, winger or defenseman. In cashgames, more often than not, you should be landing on a third defenseman in the utility spot.  This is due to the fact that the position on average as a whole is going to carry a higher floor with lower standard deviation than the center or wing position.  In other words, more stability and legitimate floor with lower volatility, which is what you want in any cashgame in DFS, including NHL. 

However, on a smaller slate with lots of value at wing and center, this decision can be a tougher one in GPP's  where more often than not you will willingly roster another forward(wing or center) at the Utility position more than likely because you will also want to stack a forward line or power play unit for more upside and need that spot in order to accomplish that. Do not let this confuse you.  In GPP's we are willing to risk a lack of a high floor for some upside, though ideally we look for both of course.

So what are some things I look for when rostering defenseman? You might ask.

A. Opportunity- This comes in the form of time on ice(TOI) and a legitimate role on the team such as P1/PP1-this means the defenseman is on the top pair and also on the team's top power play unit, which is ideal. Basically I would normally steer clear of bottom third pair defenseman in cashgames for the most part.  Typically you want to roster top pair and first power play unit defenseman. While talent is great, without opportunity it does not really serve us well. So, toggle TOI, on PP/PK, etc. that is a start.

B. A High Floor- I'm referring to the lowest/worst games a particular defenseman may have in points. When we have a defenseman who's getting a lot of TOI on top of say averaging a good few shots on goal/60 and blocks/60, we are generally looking at a defenseman who not only has a high floor but also a pretty nice ceiling to boot when he does find the back of the net and/or some tip-ins from teammates from his outside shots.  These kinds of plays are good in any format contest, cash or GPP. In cash sometimes, you'll find it may make more sense to go down cheaper for one or possibly two or even all three of your defenseman depending on the context of the slate and salary pricing.  

*Finally, when you cross opportunity with a high floor potential from a statistical standpoint, you will find your plays meeting value at least more often than not and additionally, find yourself nailing some upside plays as well, and this is when you will realize you love playing NHL DFS.

This leads us into perhaps next time I do this, maybe at some point in the season, but will see you all back out on probably a slate write-up for Mondays when it is a decent amount of games.  Also keep an eye out for my friend @NHLwookiee's analytical tool I am utilizing for NHL this season over at !

Til next time, Good luck out there!




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