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Fantasy Hockey Cheat Sheet: Top DraftKings NHL DFS Picks, Lineup Strategy for May 21

Geoff Ulrich gives his top NHL picks and lineup advice for Friday’s fantasy hockey slate on DraftKings, which starts at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Friday features a four-game main NHL slate starting at 6:30 p.m. ET on DraftKings. In this article, you will find DFS advice for DraftKings lineups, plus some DraftKings Sportsbook bets to target.

DraftKings Sportsbook

Hurricanes ML (-139)

The Hurricanes have now outscored the Predators 8-2 in the series and rank second in the playoffs in expected goal rate (xGF%). The gap between these two teams was vast in the regular season and is still vast now, with the Preds ranking second-last in expected goal rate of all the teams still alive. The ‘Canes have a big edge at centre and forward, as well, and despite being road favorites, the line here really isn’t that big. Carolina’s a good target today as they seem likely to win this series in four or five games.

Leon Draisaitl 2+ points (+125)

Draisaitl scored 12 points against the Jets in nine games this year and had two or more points in five of those contests. The Oilers’ forward played 24 minutes in Game 1 and should see that kind of ice-time again here, as Edmonton attempts to tie the series. Winnipeg gave up the fourth-most scoring chances against in the regular season, so betting on a big bounce-back from the Oilers offensive stars makes sense.

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Top Line Stack

Carolina Hurricanes at Nashville Predators

Sebastian Aho ($6,800) — Teuvo Teräväinen ($5,200) — Andrei Svechnikov ($5,600)

As mentioned above, the ‘Canes have been dominant so far in their series with the Preds and head into this game with the second-best expected goal rate in the playoffs. Nashville doesn’t really have any dominant centers, so Carolina’s first line should be able to impose its will this entire series. This duo of Aho and Svechnikov has been particularly dominant, notching a combined 21 SOG and four points in just two games.

They’re joined at regular strength by Teravainen (who also has a point in the series), and the aforementioned duo have already paid off big time for fantasy purposes. They cashed in on the power-play in Game 2, an area where the ‘Canes have a huge edge against a Predators penalty-kill that ranked third-worst in 2021. Stacking this very affordable top line is a good way to begin lineups and won’t affect your ability to roster another stud, if necessary.

Superstar to Target

Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers vs. Winnipeg Jets ($8,100)

The Oilers were held to just one goal in Game 1 with both of their offensive stars held off the scoresheet. It’s certainly fine to pay up for what should be an “angry” Connor McDavid ($9,200) in this spot, but I prefer taking the discount on Draisaitl. The Oilers’ forward is going to be playing alongside McDavid on the power-play, regardless of how the lines breakdown at even strength, and if he does end up playing alongside McDavid at 5-on-5, then Draisaitl should really be your top target given the discount.

Leon landed four SOG in Game 1 and actually played more minutes than McDavid, which does speak to how undervalued he is here at just over $8K. The Jets remain a weaker defensive team, so getting exposure to Edmonton’s high-end players — one way or another — makes a ton of sense.

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Value on Offense

Jake DeBrusk, Boston Bruins vs. Washington Capitals ($3,400)

Debrusk has been relegated top the Bruins’ third line, but he’s started to show signs that this assignment might actually be benefitting his game. The winger is coming off a terrible year, but has five points and is averaging 2.5 SOG over his last 10 games. He’s scored twice already in this series and seems to be benefitting from the new role, making him a solid one-off target.

Mike Hoffman, St. Louis Blues vs. Colorado Avalanche ($3,800)

Hoffman is going to continue to be relied on for the Blues, who are up against an offensive juggernaut in the Avalanche. The winger played over 17 minutes in Game 2 and has now recorded at least three SOG in his last three games. The Blues are likely to be without David Perron ($6,000; health protocols) again in Game 3, and without a ton of other scoring options to turn to, you can expect Hoffman to keep getting consistent PP1 exposure — which obviously boosts his upside. Take the discount here on a player who likes to fire the puck on net.

Stud Goalies

Mike Smith, Edmonton Oilers vs. Winnipeg Jets ($8,100)

It’s probably a little too dramatic to say the season is on the line for the Oilers tonight, but its a big game for them nonetheless. Smith has been a huge factor in the Oilers’ success this year, posting a .922 save percentage while winning 21 of his 29 starts in regulation. The Oilers are huge favorites on the moneyline on the DraftKings Sportsbook, so taking Smith here, even at a hefty salary, doesn’t seem like a reach at all. He’s likely going to play a huge part in any Oilers win, as he’s done all season.

Alex Nedeljkovic, Carolina Hurricanes at Nashville Predators ($7,900)

Nedeljkovic has been one of the more underrated goalies of the year. The rookie had Vezina winning numbers over his 25 appearances and has already stopped 54 of the 56 shots he’s faced in this series. The ‘Canes are decent favorites in Game 3, although they feel like they should be favored by more. If you think this is where Nashville steals a game, then I guess fading Nedeljkovic makes sense, but otherwise there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be taking advantage of this depressed salary here and making him your starter.

Value on Defense

Mike Reilly, Boston Bruins vs. Washington Capitals ($3,300)

Reilly continues to be an integral part of the Bruins backend after coming over in a trade at the deadline. While he’s taken a bit of a backseat in terms of his power-play exposure, he’s also managed at least three SOG in each of the last two games and has registered the blocked shots bonus in this series once, as well. With Bruins-Capitals games threatening to go to OT every night, targeting value plays on defense in this contest isn’t a poor idea, as the extended time could give players like Reilly better chances of hitting the bonus. Regardless, he remains a solid pay-down option as an entrenched part of the Bruins top two pairings.

Power-Play Defensemen

Torey Krug, St. Louis Blues vs. Colorado Avalanche ($4,700)

Krug played over 26 minutes in Game 2 against the Avalanche and is likely to keep seeing extended minutes now that Justin Faulk ($5,200; upper body) and Robert Bortuzzo ($2,500; upper body) are banged up. Krug has been productive down the stretch for the Blues, as well, compiling eight points in his last 10 games, averaging 10.6 DKFP over that same stretch. The veteran is going to have to play a ton out of necessity in Game 3 and, with the Blues’ backs against the proverbial wall, I don’t hate targeting their PP1 for a potential breakout tonight. Take the discount on Krug, who is likely to pay-off through sheer volume alone.

Darnell Nurse, Edmonton Oilers vs. Winnipeg Jets ($6,000)

The Oilers will be in desperate need of a quick bounce-back after losing Game 1, so don’t be shocked if Nurse pushes for over 30 minutes of ice time. The Oilers’ defenseman was second in the league in goals scored among defensemen in 2021 and gives you monster upside every time he takes the ice. He’s also averaging 2.4 SOG and 1.8 blocked shots over his last 10 games. With just $200 separating he and Tyson Barrie ($5,800), I like targeting the more versatile Nurse, who should continue to see at least some power-play exposure with the Oilers elite forwards, as well.

Set your DraftKings fantasy hockey lineups here: NHL $35K Sticks [$10K to 1st]

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.

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