All eyes will be on Tuesday's nightcap with the Vancouver Canucks hosting the New Jersey Devils in a game featuring the three Hughes brothers. It’ll be the first time all three will hit the ice at the same time, and the NHL odds have Vancouver trading as a short favorite.
The rest of the slate doesn’t offer the same intrigue for NHL picks, with the matchups between the Detroit Red Wings and Buffalo Sabres, and the Minnesota Wild and Calgary Flames the only other games without a sizable favorite.
Here are my free NHL player props for Tuesday, December 5.
NHL prop picks and best bets for December 5
- Peterka Over 2.5 shots (+110 at DraftKings)
- Nichushkin Under 3.5 shots (-125 at DraftKings)
- Rantanen Under 3.5 shots (+120 at bet365)
Picks made on December 5 at 11:45 a.m. ET.
Read full analysis of each pick.
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Today’s NHL prop picks and best bets
Prop bet #1: JJ your way to payday
Buffalo Sabres winger JJ Peterka has clicked with linemates Dylan Cozens and Zach Benson of late. The new-look line has driven possession with a 59.4 Corsi For percentage at 5-on-5 across the past three games, and Peterka has racked up 10 shots and 15 attempts.
There’s nothing scary about a date with the Detroit Red Wings, either.
The Red Wings have the sixth-worst CF% (46.5) while allowing the eighth-most shot attempts per 60 minutes (62.5). Additionally, Detroit has taken the fourth-most minor penalties at 5-on-5, so there should be favorable minutes with the man advantage for Peterka, too, as he skates with the No. 2 power-play unit.
This nod is more about the emergence of Buffalo’s second line at even strength, though. And, it’s a great fit for Peterka’s ascent to becoming a consistent high-volume shooter.
JJ Peterka prop: Over 2.5 shots (+110 at DraftKings)
Prop bet #2: Not Nichushkin's night
While Colorado Avalanche winger Valeri Nichushkin recorded five shots against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday, his shot metrics have been all over the map this season, and it’s the only time he’s topped this 3.5-shot total across his past five games.
Nichushkin skates in a cushy gig alongside Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen on the No. 1 line and top power-play unit. But, there’s only one puck, and all three are capable of carrying it, dishing it, and shooting it. And, of the three, Nichushkin is third on the pecking order.
Additionally, the Russian winger is attempting the fewest shots per 60 minutes (13.2) since posting an 11.8 mark when he joined the Avs in 2019-20.
There’s also been sneaky improvement in the Ducks' possession game. Anaheim has surrendered the ninth-fewest shot attempts per 60 minutes (54.2) while posting a respectable 51.0 Corsi For percentage at five-on-five across their past 10 games.
Finally, the elephant in the room is Anaheim taking the most minor penalties at 5-on-5 in the league, but Nichushkin only jumps to 13.6 attempts per 60 with the man advantage. So, it’s not a meaningful jump from his overall 13.2 mark.
Valeri Nichushkin prop: Under 3.5 shots (-125 at DraftKings)
Prop bet #3: Going off on a Rantanen
My numbers are also showing big-time value for Rantanen to go Under 3.5 shots against the Ducks tonight. Rantanen has only cleared this 3.5-shot total once in his past eight games, and his shot and attempt volume is way down overall this season.
Rantanen’s 7.15 shots and 14.87 attempts per 60 minutes lag way behind his 9.99 and 17.98 marks over the prior three seasons.
Additionally, as noted, the Ducks have been mightier defensively over their past 10 games.
Still, I’m expecting Colorado to take control of this game early and then utilize all four forward lines. The Avs are playing for the third time in four nights, and Rantanen has topped 25 minutes in two of his past three games. Colorado head coach Jared Bednar isn’t going to run his stars’ wells dry in December.
Mikko Rantanen prop: Under 3.5 shots (+120 at bet365)
Not intended for use in MA.
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