The Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, and Ottawa Senators were poised to make deep playoff runs this season. However, with less than 18 games left and a handful of head-scratching moves later, all three teams are in the running for the No. 1 overall draft pick.
Where Do They Go From Here?
It’s incredible that the Oilers, with superstar Connor McDavid, and the Senators, a team that was a goal away from last year’s Stanley Cup Final, will not be contenders this postseason.
The Vancouver Canucks and Canadiens haven’t been in the playoff conversation since November. The Canucks are in the midst of a rebuild while the Canadiens’ offence is craving firepower.
Here are the best value picks and who to stay away from in DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports) Hockey for the non-playoff Canadian teams:
McDavid is one of the best players in the NHL and worth exposing your lineup around. He currently sits third among all skaters in points with 80 while leading the Oilers in goals, assists, and points. Despite the captain’s outstanding third season in the league, the Oilers are yet again basement dwellers after making their first playoff appearance in over a decade during the 2016-17 season.
Winger Milan Lucic has been extremely disappointing this season, posting a measly 32 points in 66 games skating alongside McDavid. However, his value will remain high playing with McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. On a small slate, Lucic is worth rolling in lineups.
Draisaitl is having another stellar season, sitting in second place among Oilers skaters with 60 points. He is the skater to stack with McDavid in cash games and GPPs (guaranteed prize pools) against feeble defensive teams. Outside of McDavid and Draisaitl, the scoring really dries up. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has registered just 33 points in 48 contests. The Oilers also traded last year’s 27-goal-scorer Patrick Maroon at this year’s deadline for a future third-round pick and the rights to Boston College forward J.D. Dudek.
The Oilers’ defense remains a work in progress. Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse have some offensive upside, though they have combined for a meager 38 points. The Oilers are the Canadian team that could really use a defensive prospect like Rasmus Dahlin, so tanking is likely in the cards moving forward. It’s best to fade goaltenders Cam Talbot, Al Montoya, and Laurent Brossoit in all DFS formats for the remainder of the season.
The Senators have been making headlines all season long, from an upset fan base to shopping their franchise defenseman at the trade deadline. However, when it’s all said and done, the Senators will only go as far as Erik Karlsson will take them, which this year, won’t be the playoffs.
The Senators’ captain missed the first five games of the season recovering from a broken foot. Since returning, the team has declined and can’t revive the magic that led them to the Eastern Conference Final last season. Karlsson is an atrocious minus-28 this season, yet has still managed to rack up 49 points in 60 games. He is still worth every cent in cash games against weak goaltending, but don’t expose your lineup around the Senators’ captain against efficient defensive teams or elite goaltending. As for the Senators’ goaltending situation, fade any starting goaltender remainder of the season.
The addition of Matt Duchene has yet to pay major dividends for the Senators, but wingers Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone continue to score at the pace of last season. Stone has posted 60 points and Hoffman has registered 44 points thus far. Stone is at the top of the Senators’ payroll on most DFS websites, which means fantasy owners will have to pay up for Ottawa’s best forward. Hoffman’s true DFS value lies within GPPs against teams that struggle mightily on the penalty kill.
The Canadiens just can’t seem to figure it out. The team has struggled mightily this season as offseason transactions have failed miserably to make an immediate impact.
Forward Brendan Gallagher leads the team in points with 41 and is worth taking a flier on in cash games moving forward. The five-year-veteran has tallied five points over the last three games and with upcoming contests against the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Columbus Blue Jackets, his DFS price point will drop and he will be worth rostering at his discounted price.
The Canadiens announced on Monday that captain Max Pacioretty will miss 4-6 weeks with a knee injury, increasing the DFS value of Jonathan Drouin and Alex Galchenyuk. While the Drouin era in Montreal is off to a slow start, the injury to Pacioretty may kickstart Drouin’s offense, even though he is struggling to grasp the detailed concepts of head coach Claude Julien’s system.
The absence of Pacioretty will lead to more ice time and opportunities for Drouin and Galchenyuk to produce. Drouin is worth taking a flier on, averaging two more minutes per game than Gallagher and Galchenyuk. Though Drouin has only registered 33 points, he only trails Galchenyuk by six points for second place in team scoring. Depending on the matchup, Galchenyuk and Drouin are cheap options with high-upside to fill holes in your DFS lineup.
On most DFS websites, Drouin and Galchenyuk are listed as both left wing and centre, which will make it easier to fit them in your roster should they start scoring goals.
Another beneficiary to Pacioretty missing time is 22-year-old Russian winger Nikita Scherbak. He’s widely regarded as the best forward prospect in the Canadiens’ organization and is beginning proving his worth in on the second line.
Scherbak has scored twice in the past four games playing with Phillip Danault and Artturi Lehkonen. Scherbak’s ownership will be extremely low and his price tag will be dirt cheap, suiting up in just 13 NHL games. Three shots, one hit and one assist in the Russian’s next game would exceed his value.
The Vancouver Canucks have a solid core to build around with young forwards Bo Hovart and Brock Boeser righting the ship. Canucks GM Jim Benning recently traded Thomas Vanek, one of the team’s leading scorers, to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for veteran forward Jussi Jokinen and 22-year-old Tyler Motte.
Rookie sensation Boeser has been a superb DFS play this season, scoring 29 goals and adding 26 assists for 55 points to lead the Canucks. However, he will be out for the remainder of the season. Horvat was on the shelf for seven weeks to start the season and has played a vital role in the Canucks offense since returning, registering 16 points in 20 games. He comes with a moderate price point and will become the focus of the Canucks offense over the next month, making him an appealing play in tournament formats.
Daniel and Henrik Sedin rank second and third in scoring with 46 and 43 points respectively. Currently 37 years old, the Sedin twins are not as dynamic as they once were. On a small slate against weaker teams such as the Arizona Coyotes or Buffalo Sabres, they are intriguing value plays as they still receive top-6 forward minutes and key roles on the Canucks power play.