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Frank’s NHL preview – 12/23

NHL teams will take to the ice soon. Here is a quick update on some changes and how this season will progress. If you want all of my core plays and Final Thoughts articles during the season, along with our staff’s props and access to our Discord, click here


NHL Dates recently announced:

  • Training camps begin – December 31
    Season begins – January 13
    Trade Deadline – April 12th
    Regular season ends – May 8
    Playoffs begin – May 11
    Last possible day for Stanley Cup game 7 – July 9
    Expansion Draft – July 21st
    NHL Draft – July 23-24th
    Free Agency – July 28th

Recently, the NHL announced that we are in store for a 56-game regular season. There will not be any pre-season or exhibition games. All games played will count in the standings and these games will start on Wednesday, January 13.
Here are the re-aligned divisions for this season:

To avoid cross-country and US/Canada travel, the NHL has scheduled teams to play only other teams within their divisions.
Here is the opening game for each team:

When playoff time rolls around, we will not see 24 teams like last season. The NHL will revert back to 16 franchises making the postseason. The top four teams in each division will advance to the Stanley Cup playoffs. These intra-divisional match-ups (1 vs. 4, and 2 vs. 3) will be best-of-seven series, and that will continue throughout the playoffs.

As in the NHL bubble, rosters will be expanded for the 2021 season. This season all NHL rosters will be made up of 23 players, with four to six additional players on each team’s taxi squad. As far as goaltenders, each team is required to carry three – two on the NHL roster, and one on the taxi squad. This season’s salary cap will remain the same at $81.5 million.

Since Covid-19 has held such an important stake in all sports, there is an opt-out option if any player or family member is considered high-risk. The deadline to decide is Dec. 24 (non-playoff teams) or Dec. 27 (playoff teams) if they are not playing in 2021.

Impact on DFS, Props, and Wagering

With the short training camp window and minimal off-season, I will be sticking to these guidelines when making my fantasy lineups and placing props and wagers:

  • The offensive players will be ahead of the goaltenders to start the season. More goals will be scored until netminders have played a few games to get their reaction time and hand-eye coordination back into form. I will lean to the over in props and wagers until at least February.
  • For cash game DFS construction, I will stay away from stacking as much as possible. If the entire line or team you stack gets shut down due to a hot goalie performance, your chances of cashing decrease significantly. Remember, you only need to beat about half the other contest entrants to cash.
  • For GPP contests, stacking the 1st and 2nd line is how you will want to construct 90% of your lineups. It’s important to stack 1st line centers and at least one wing on that same line. There is slightly less correlation between two wingers than there is between a center and a wing. Stacking with players on the same power play is also a smart construction practice for GPPs. This creates an extra opportunity for an optimal outcome of at least one assist plus a goal.
  • Another correlation strategy involves stacking your goaltender with skaters from a team you like to win, as this is a great way to increase your upside. A netminder can’t record a win unless he get good goal support from his team.
  • Be mindful of not just matchups, but also of each NHL team’s schedule. Back-to-back games are just as important to consider as weaknesses of the stronger team’s opponent.


I’m hoping you will give NHL DFS, props, and wagering a try with us at DFS Karma. The shortened season is the perfect bridge from the end of the NFL season to the start of MLB season. Please look for me in our NHL discord chat or on twitter. I’m always available for any questions you have.

You can follow Frank Sofia on twitter – @fsofia8




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