NHL Betting Picks and Player Props to Target: Saturday 3/16/24

Austin Swaim
Austin SwaimASwaim3
NHL Betting Picks and Player Props to Target: Saturday 3/16/24

Saturday usually means a busy night on the ice, and we've got 28 teams in action at some point today. With no shortage of options to choose from, there are some pretty tasty wagers sitting at FanDuel Sportsbook's proverbial kiosks.

Whether it's moneylines, total goals, or player props, there are plenty of ways to bet on the NHL action all season long. It's a long 82-game season, meaning that the best selections of each night can be very different based on backup goalies coming into play, injuries that add up, and if teams are due for positive or negative swings.

My favorite picks are on the way, but don't forget to check out FanDuel's Parlay Hub to see other trending bets in all sports -- including ice hockey.

Let's dive into the best bets for tonight.

Note: Lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. All NHL betting odds and totals come from FanDuel Sportsbook.

NHL Best Bets

Buffalo Sabres at Detroit Red Wings

Under 6.5 (-122)

This morning matinee (at least in my time zone) might go by quickly.

The Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings just aren't scoring very frequently on their own, and today's goaltenders won't help the cause. In the past 30 days, the Wings have tallied the third-fewest expected goals (xG) per 60 minutes in the NHL (2.59), and the Sabres are tied for the fifth-fewest (2.71).

With Detroit turning to James Reimer after a day of rest, this game will also feature two of the league's hottest goaltenders. Reimer has posted the ninth-most goals saved above expectation (GSAx) in the NHL over the past month (5.97), and Buffalo's Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen -- amidst a well-documented breakout campaign -- has remained strong with 5.48 GSAx in the same period.

On paper, both of these clubs avoid the bottom 10 in actual goals scored per 60 minutes during the past month, but they've been fortunate to do so. Personally, this game should have a 5.5-goal total given the recent performance of these offenses.

New Jersey Devils at Arizona Coyotes

Over 6.5 (-106)
Clayton Keller Anytime Goal (+175)

The New Jersey Devils' odd, disappointing season has been hard to wrap our arms around, but we can usually count on them for goal-scoring purposes.

In the past 30 days, New Jersey has posted the fourth-most xG per 60 minutes (3.64) in the NHL. They're entering a favorable matchup today despite being the visitors; the Arizona Coyotes have ceded the second-most xG per 60 (3.60) in the same period. Arizona's Connor Ingram (1.60 GSAx in the past 30 days) hasn't helped extinguish the fire much.

The question for the game total is the Yotes' ability to contribute, and I think they can. The Devils -- 37-28 to the over this season -- are no stranger to a shootout and have ceded 3.33 xG per 60 minutes (ninth-most) since Valentine's Day. It might also surprise some casual fans that Arizona isn't near the bottom of the league in offense during this time frame, ranking just 14th-worst in xG per 60 (3.07).

If we get offense from both sides, it almost always starts with Clayton Keller for the Coyotes. Beyond the All-Star's ability, he's topped 21:00 TOI in every game decided by fewer than three goals during March. He's just on the ice a ton -- especially on the power play. Keller has also posted at least three official shots on goal (SOG) in every game this month.

FanDuel Research's NHL projections are bullish on Keller scoring today, pegging him at 0.59 projected goals. That would imply -144 odds for a tally, but Keller can be had at +175 on FanDuel's board.

San Jose Sharks at Columbus Blue Jackets

Mikael Granlund 3+ Shots on Goal (+122)

This was a diamond in the rough.

If you simply read Mikael Granlund's box scores, this line makes no sense. Granlund has only mustered at least three shots on goal twice in seven March contests, so why would he be anywhere near a pick 'em given that 28.6% rate? The answer is simple: matchups.

Six of the San Jose Sharks' seven March games have come against teams in the bottom 10 of SOG allowed per game during the past 30 days. They've played elite defensive clubs -- a title not bestowed upon the Columbus Blue Jackets. Columbus is allowing the fourth-most SOG per game during this period (33.7).

The biggest case for Granlund breaking out as the matchups improve is his role on this pitiful club. Granlund has posted a 21:46 TOI average this month amidst several blowouts, captaining the top line at even strength and 5-on-4. He's simply on the ice a ton to start posting shots (and points) as defense subsides.

Last month in a similar role, Granlund posted over 2.5 shots per game in 57.1% of his games. Plus money here is a tremendous proposition.

Colorado Avalanche at Edmonton Oilers

Over 6.5 (-134)
Valeri Nichushkin Anytime Goal (+180)

This rematch of the 2022 Western Conference Finals is arguably the game of the day in the NHL today. Expect plenty of scoring.

After a rough patch, the Colorado Avalanche offense is back on the map. Colorado has posted the 13th-most xG per 60 (3.19) over the past 30 days -- a rank that is climbing by each game further removed from early February. They've remained a mid-pack defense in this period, ceding the 12th-fewest xG per 60 (2.96) during it.

Of course, the Edmonton Oilers are no stranger to a firefight -- especially at home. They're tied for fifth in xG per 60 minutes (3.41) over the past 30 days, but their defense has slipped among this recent 7-5 stretch. Edmonton is allowing 3.01 xG per 60 minutes (16th-most) over the past month.

Ultimately, we know the goaltenders aren't too fearful here, either. In this same time frame, Alexandar Georgiev (2.94 GSAx) and Stuart Skinner (1.30 GSAx) have turned around early-season slumps but haven't encroached the league's best performers.

A huge reason for the Avs' turnaround directly correlates with getting Valeri Nichushkin back on the top line in all ice conditions. Nichushkin has 3 goals in 3 games since returning and has posted 25 goals in just 43 games this season overall.

FanDuel is well behind most other books when posting Nichushkin at +180 to score, and FDR's projections think that's tremendous value. They'd post him at +122 to score behind a median projection of 0.45 goals.

Washington Capitals at Vancouver Canucks

Capitals +1.5 (-137)

We were all a bit surprised to see the Vancouver Canucks leap out to a fast start, and the Cinderella story might be collapsing before our eyes.

Over the past 30 days, Vancouver ranks just 20th in expected-goals-for rate (50.0 xGF%). That's barely ahead of the 31-25-9 Washington Capitals (47.9 xGF%) in the same period, so getting -137 with Washington to just simply keep things within a goal is a great proposition.

That's only furthered by the goaltending in this game. The 'Nucks are spelling Thatcher Demko with Casey DeSmith, who ranks 56th of 71 qualifying goaltenders in GSAx over the past month (-2.75).

On the flip side, Washington's Charlie Lindgren has once again caught fire, ranking 8th of 71 in the same period (6.14 GSAx).

There's an argument to leap to Capitals ML (+180) in this one, but I'll play it safe in light of a potential overtime situation on the road. numberFire's model expects Washington covers 66.3% of the time in B.C. -- not D.C. -- tonight.

Nashville Predators at Seattle Kraken

Predators ML (-122)

I've backed the Seattle Kraken to improbable losses so much to the point where I'm glad the math says I don't have to here.

Seattle blew a 4-2 lead with six minutes left on Tuesday, and I'd be stunned if they're even in the same position here. The Kraken have a dismal 47.2 xGF% in the past 30 days (seventh-worst in hockey), which Philipp Grubauer -- responsible for Tuesday's meltdown -- has otherwise cleaned up behind 4.54 GSAx.

Gru just isn't a strong selling point when Juuse Saros will oppose him for the Nashville Predators. Saros' 3.20 GSAx in the same period is comparable, which is all it needs to be when the Preds have a 54.1 xGF% in the past month (sixth-best in the NHL).

These skaters aren't close, and this gap is theoretically wider after the Kraken sent pieces away at the deadline. I'll pay a small premium to back the road favorite.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.