3 NHL Studs to Target on 12/20/19

Coming off a two-goal game, Auston Matthews is looking to repeat that performance. Who else can we target on Friday?

Spending up in any daily fantasy lineup is how to get the superstars and the highest upside players in your lineup. In NHL DFS, it’s different than paying up in sports like NBA or NFL. Someone can be one of the highest-priced players at his position and put up a total dud of a performance, and paying that much for him would be a huge mistake. Let’s make sure we are paying up in the right spots when building our lineups tonight.

A small four-game slate is on tap for Friday night, but there are some of the NHL's best players in on the ice tonight. So, who should we build our lineups around?

Auston Matthews, Center, Toronto Maple Leafs

FanDuel Salary: $8,300

As quietly as a Toronto Maple Leafs player can do it, Auston Matthews is tied for third in the league in goals this season with 21. Matthews has always been a high volume shooter, and this season he's 12th in the NHL in shot attempt rate, according to Natural Stat Trick. Matthews is reaping the benefits of playing under new coach Sheldon Keefe and has been playing a career-high 19:47 per game this season. Tonight, he gets to play in a matchup we always target.

The Leafs are in the Big Apple to face the New York Rangers. We know the Rangers have been leaky defensively all season, as they allow a league worst 3.41 expected goals per game. The Chicago Blackhawks are the second-worst in that metric but well behind the Rangers at only 2.95. This is one of the reason why the Maple Leafs have the highest implied goal total on tonight's slate, sitting at 3.55. Matthews is a great play in all formats tonight, given how well he has been playing and the matchup.

Artemi Panarin, Wing, New York Rangers

FanDuel Salary: $8,600

On the other side of that game, Artemi Panarin has been on fire for the Rangers. He has goals in five straight games, including a hat trick on December 12th against the San Jose Sharks. He's eighth in the NHL in points per game. Panarin ranks fourth among wingers in ice time per game, as the Rangers have been riding their prized free agent acquisition.

The game between the Rangers and the Maple Leafs has a 6.5 total, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. This could be a back and forth game in which Panarin shines. The Leafs are killing just 76% of times shorthanded this season, which is the worst on this slate. Panarin has 13 points on the power play this season. We like guys who will set up well on the power play because of the bonus 0.5 points you get on FanDuel. Panarin may go overlooked because the Rangers are underdogs, but they still have the fifth-highest implied goal total on the slate.

Alexander Ovechkin, Wing, Washington Capitals

FanDuel Salary: $8,300

While he hasn't been lighting the lamp as much recently, there are reasons to believe that Alex Ovechkin could turn that around soon. He is still the highest rate shooter in the league, attempting 24.93 shots per 60 minutes. He had nine shots on goal in the Washington Capitals' last game, so he's not slowing down in that department. He also got his long-time center Nicklas Backstrom back, and we should see that duo connect on a few goals as they have over the years.

The Capitals are taking on a New Jersey Devils team that is already in sell mode. They traded Taylor Hall earlier in the week and have been a big disappointment this season. They have allowed the third-most goals per 60 minutes in the league. The Capitals' implied goal total is second behind the Leafs at 3.42. We can go back to Ovechkin in this game and keep trusting the guy who has been scoring goals better than anyone over the last decade.

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.