3 NHL FanDuel Studs to Target on 2/17/20

Nikita Kucherov and the Lightning are red hot. Who else is worth spending up on today?

Spending up in any daily fantasy sport 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.

Presidents' Day brings us an afternoon slate with five games on it, starting at 4:00 PM eastern. So which stars do we want today?

Aleksander Barkov, Center, Florida Panthers

FanDuel Salary: $7,100

Aleksander Barkov is known throughout the league as one of the best two-way centers in hockey. This season, he's outperforming his peers in that category, averaging more points per game than the likes of Patrice Bergeron and Ryan O'Reilly. Overall, he's 20th in the NHL in points per game at 1.02. He's relied upon heavily for the Florida Panthers, as he is their leader in minutes for forwards with 19:54 time on ice per game, according to Natural Stat Trick. Playing a lot of minutes will be useful for him in the situation he is in on Monday.

Florida will play against a San Jose Sharks team that has only had things go from bad to worse in terms of available players. Erik Karlsson is out for the season, and Evander Kane is serving a suspension. The Sharks already ranked as the seventh worst team in the league in goals allowed per game, while the Panthers rank fifth in goals scored per game. This puts Florida's implied team total above three, according to our daily fantasy matchup heat map. Barkov should have his way with this undermanned team and has one of the easier matchups for a top player on today's slate.

Nikita Kucherov, Wing, Tampa Bay Lightning

FanDuel Salary: $8,200

Like his team, Nikita Kucherov isn't receiving as much fanfare as last season. That should change quickly however, as the Tampa Bay Lightning have now won 10 games in a row and have the best goal differential in the league. Kucherov himself has 18 points in his last 10 games and a point in the last 13 games he's played. While not leading the league in points like he did last year, Kucherov has now climbed up to ninth after a solid but unspectacular start to this season.

The Lightning will face off against the Colorado Avalanche, who are a good team but are coming off back to back home losses. They rank in the middle of the pack in most advanced metrics for defense, and that doesn't seem to bode well against this Tampa team that is rolling right now. Part of the appeal of playing Kucherov in daily fantasy is that he is now playing on an even strength line with Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos, forming one of the most dangerous trios in the league. The Lightning's implied team total is 3.32, the second highest on the slate, and this line will be asked to do lots of the scoring. It's time to jump back on the Kucherov train, and he is a great play in all formats.

Anti Raanta, Goalie, Arizona Coyotes

FanDuel Salary: $8,200

Antti Raanta and the Arizona Coyotes face off against the New York Islanders in a game that should be low scoring. FanDuel Sportsbook has the over/under in this game at just 5.5. The Coyotes' stellar defensive play is a reason for this, as they allow the fifth fewest goals per game in the league. Raanta is coming off a good performance on Saturday night, in which he stopped 36 of 37 shots in a win over the Washington Capitals. Overall, his .917 save percentage ranks 12th among goalies who have played at least 25 games. Tonight, he'll face an Islanders team that is 21st in goals scored per game -- so not really an offense that will worry him. They also have the second lowest implied goal total at just 2.60. Arizona is a home favorite, and Raanta should be a safe play to use in cash games as well as tournaments today.

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.