Hey guys! Sven back with another 31 in 31. Over the next month, I will be taking a look at each team’s players to watch out for going into the 2019-20 fantasy hockey season. This analysis features everything from surefire studs, to sleepers, to streamers, deeper league holds, even to rookie-eligible prospects that may make an appearance at some point this season. Please let me know if you guys enjoy this type of material! Reminder that the stat totals are from last season.
Last year my previews went alphabetically, but this year we’re going to go division-by-division, starting with the top team. On our seventh stop on the 31 in 31 tour, we’re checking out the Edmonton Oilers. With a new GM at the helm and a new coach in the room, the Oilers are looking to start fresh this season. More moving and shaking will likely need to happen to get them headed in the right direction, but there is a ton of fantasy relevance to this team.
SURE-FIRE STUDS: Connor McDavid (78GP 41-75-116), Leon Draisaitl (82GP 50-55-105)
Ladies and Gentlemen, the #1 overall fantasy pick for the next 10 years is back and ready to make some noise. He is accompanied by the German sniper that finished one behind Ovi for the Rocket Richard trophy this past season. Not sure if I’d take Leon first round, but he is for sure a top 20 pick this season. Will be interesting to see where he’s ranked.
SVEN’S SLEEPER: Evan Bouchard (OHL: 45GP 16-37-53)
It’s no secret the 2018 10th overall pick wasn’t ready for the Show last season. In seven games he tucked one goal, but was sent back to London (OHL) where he absolutely tore it up. I’m thinking he steps in this year and jockeys with Nurse for a spot on what should be a deadly #1PP unit. I can’t see him logging top-pair minutes 5on5, but expect a nice STP boost to make Bouchard a decent sleeper pick.
HOLDS: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (82GP 28-41-69), Darnell Nurse (82GP 10-31-41), Mike Smith (42GP 23-16-2, .898SV%, 2.72GAA)
Let’s be honest. The only reason Nuge was even talked about heading into last fantasy season was because he was rumored to be #1LW with McDaddy. Him and Draisaitl flip-flopped between that spot and the #2C spot, but expect Nuge to post a solid 50-65 points this season. Nurse had a very good season last year, but everyone being healthy around him plus the promotion of Bouchard hurts his chances at repeating the same point totals. He’s a bust for me this season, but still a decent depth option. Mike Smith can still play, but as we saw last season it takes him a bit to get going but he had a lights out playoff. He’s a depth #2G option.
STREAMERS: James Neal (63GP 7-12-19), Alex Chiasson (73GP 22-16-38), Joakim Nygard (SHL: 52GP 21-14-35)
Expect the Real-Deal-Neal to bounce back this season. A change of scenery is probably for the best, but the magnitude of this bounce back is entirely determined on where he gets thrown into the middle-six. He can certainly provide some much-needed depth for a team that struggled with secondary scoring. Chiasson is listed because pretty much whoever cycles into the #1RW spot is a streamer. Could happen to anyone. Frig, Zack Kassian had a career-high 15 rips last season. Sam Gagner showed flashes he can still play. Let’s see another 8-point night Sammy!! Nygard is making the jump to North America after two solid seasons in the Swedish league. Not sure what to expect, but anything is possible. Ditto for Gaetan Haas (NLA: 50GP 15-23-38).
???: Jesse Puljujarvi (46GP 4-5-9)
He’s looking more and more like a bust every year after being selected 4th overall. Now he has requested a trade. I’m not sure where he’ll end up for 2019-20, but I think his best years are still ahead of him.
PROSPECT PIPELINE: Kailer Yamamoto (AHL: 27GP 10-8-18)
Not the greatest first pro season for Yamamoto, but playing in front of a new GM is a clean slate for the 2017 first-rounder. Let’s see what he is able to do in Bakersfield (AHL) this season, and hopefully he’ll get the call-up nod at some point.
Tyler Benson (AHL: 68GP 15-51-66)
50 assists in his first pro season? Remarkable. Expect to see Benson in an Oilers uniform at some point this season.
Ryan McLeod (OHL: 63GP 19-43-62)
The 2018 second-rounder will graduate from Junior this season and start his pro career in Bakersfield (AHL). He has showcased his playmaking ability thus far, and I like him down the road to give the Oil some much-needed depth down the middle. Junior grads Kirill Maksimov, Ostap Safin, and Dmitri Samorukov will also join the Condors this year.
Caleb Jones and Ethan Bear both have NHL games under their belts and have both produced on the back-end at the AHL level, so expect them to be prime call-up candidates in the event of an injury.
If you think I missed covering a prospect, be sure to check out my article from last season!