It took the Oilers getting incredibly lucky to win the Connor McDavid sweepstakes to give the franchise a sign of life for the first time in at least half a decade. While their 2015-16 was a failure, the young studs all looked great, especially McDavid who had over a point per game in his 45 games. Then in a draft with three studs, they ended up getting one of the three picking fourth (well done Columbus). I don’t want to say they erased it all with one move because McDavid is well on his way to being the best player in the league but then Peter Chiarelli traded Taylor Hall, an elite left winger, for a second pair defenseman. At least the defense will be better! <sarcasm> After McDavid, there are a few fantasy assets and a lot of question marks; let’s take a look!
After being the Prince to Henrik Lundqvist‘s King in New York for a few years, Cam Talbot‘s first year in Edmonton went fairly well all things considered. With a horrible defense in front of him, Talbot posted a .917 sv% with a 2.55 GAA in 56 games. He’s the clear #1 goalie for Edmonton, an up and coming team. The problem is that even considering the trade, the defense is still pretty thin in front of him. You can draft Talbot as a bottom end #2 with some upside in case the Oilers have a season like the 2014-15 Flames but don’t reach for him.
Jonas Gustavsson was brought in to backup Talbot this season. He’s a career backup who has never had better than a .911 sv% in his 7 years in the NHL so leave him on the waiver wire.
Woo, they got Adam Larsson! He’s a #2 defensemen to play with their #1 in Oscar Klefbom! That’s what their GM Peter Chiarelli is preaching but don’t buy into his nonsense. In real life, Klefbom is a #2 and Larsson maybe is a #3, could be a #4. Anyways, Larsson has never topped 24 points in a season so leave him on the waiver wire. Klefbom is a much tougher player to gauge because while he looked good in his time last season, he only played 30 games. If you want to take him as your last defenseman in a 12’er, that’s fine, but I’m not counting on him for anything this season unless he gets first power play time.
My guess is that Andrej Sekera gets the first power play role and he’s the Oilers defenseman to draft as your last defenseman. Sekera finished last season with 30 points and almost 2 shots per game. It’s pretty low end but if the power play points go up, he should get back towards his first year in Carolina (11+33). There’s a chance you cut him a week into the season if he’s not getting the power play time but there’s also a chance Sekera is a hold all season.
Long term, Darnell Nurse could turn into a first pairing defenseman that the Oilers need, even if they don’t think so. For now, he’s only useful in deep leagues for the penalty minutes and decent shots. There’s a good chance he opens on the third pair since he’s behind Larsson and Sekera on the left side; the opportunity isn’t going to be there. Hold tight in deep dynasties but otherwise leave him on the waiver wire this year.
It’ll take some improvements for McDavid to finish 5th overall, where I rank him, but I have little doubt that it’ll happen. As an 18 year old rookie, McDavid finished with 16 goals and 32 assists in 45 games, just absurd numbers. He had only 105 shots in 45 games which will need to go up but for a player of his caliber, that’ll happen. After this year, I fully expect McDavid to be a top 2 pick for a year or two and then the consensus #1 player for years to come. He’s been talked about plenty in this space but it’s obvious to anyone who watched him that he’s a generational talent.
With Hall gone, there’s a big fantasy dropoff to the second best Oiler. It should be Jordan Eberle who will be on McDavid’s right wing. Eberle scored 25 goals and 22 assists in 69 games, easily his worst season since his rookie year. Expect Eberle to get back in the 60-70 point range playing with McDavid and while the shots are only average and the penalty minutes aren’t there, that’s still a top 100 player. I have Eberle ranked 75th with the upside to push the top 50.
Milan Lucic will be the third wheel because Chiarelli is an idiot and gave Lucic a 7 year deal. I guess they want Lucic to protect McDavid or something; too bad Lucic couldn’t catch anybody. Playing with McDavid will get Lucic enough points and the penalty minutes will be terrific, no doubt. Don’t reach for him though because unlike the other top PIM guys, he kills you in SOG. Lucic is 113th for me firming putting him in the middle rounds.
A couple spots ahead of him is Leon Draisaitl. His rookie season was outstanding with 51 points in 72 games. The shots will need an increase to get into the top 100 because of the lack of penalty minutes. That’s certainly possible and the biggest question is whether he gets the last spot on the first power play unit. If he does, then I could see him pushing 60 points despite being on the second line. The concern for me, and why he’s outside of my top 100, is that Draisaitl really clicked with Hall and now that he’s gone, there’s a big drop off in his quality of linemate.
One of my big calls last season was Benoit Pouliot having a big second half and he was well on his way before injury. Pouliot finished with 14+22 in 55 games with decent PIM and shots, worth holding in 12’ers. The problem is that he won’t be playing with McDavid this season, at least to start. I could see taking him with one of your last picks but I’m hoping to be able to stream him early to see if he’s a hold.
Nail Yakupov will be the last member of the top 6. After an amazing rookie season, he’s fallen off dramatically. I’m leaving him on the waiver wire until he shows any consistency. Yak could end up in the hot schmotato category where you hold him for stretches but you can’t count on him being a hold.
It’s amazing to me that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is slated to be on the third line. Can’t wait for Chiarelli to trade him for 50 cents on the dollar! After years of being in the 55 point range, RNH finished with 34 points in 55 games, right at a 50 point pace over 82 games. I actually have him just outside of my top 150 because I question the role that he has. My hope is that Draisaitl moves back to right wing and RNH is the #2 center but there aren’t any indications that it’s happening. He definitely should be drafted in case things pan out (I’d be hoping he’s traded) but there’s more downside than in the past.
Jesse Puljujarvi fell into the Oilers lap at 4th overall, an excellent break for a franchise that has already had more breaks than anyone else in the league. For this season, I’m not drafting him outside of super deep leagues but for dynasties, he’s definitely a name that should be on your radar. If you do a rookie draft, he should go 3rd overall and for me, he’s closer to Auston Matthews than Matthews is to Patrik Laine.
TOP 5 PROSPECTS
1) Jesse Puljujarvi
2) Drake Caggiula
3) Griffin Reinhart
4) Tyler Benson
5) Juhjar Khaira
That’s all for now guys. Be sure to check out the Razzball Hockey Podcast when you get a chance! You can listen here or get it from your Pod Catcher e.g. ITunes. I’ll be back tomorrow with a preview of the Vancouver Canucks. As always, feel free to ask any questions and leave any comments below. Take care!