Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Edmonton Oilers
For the last 13 years (12 with The Hockey News) I have reviewed each team from a fantasy hockey standpoint, and graded them. My 14th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey throughout the summer. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Impact of changes – The biggest change heading into this season actually wasn’t listed above. It’s the fact that Connor McDavid is healthy. So, knock on wood, they potentially have him for 37 more games.
The second-biggest change heading into this season is also not listed above. And that’s the play of Cam Talbot in the second half. Flailing so badly in the first two months that he actually lost his job temporarily to Anders Nilsson, Talbot seized control in mid-December. After December 14 he played 43 games and was 18-19-4 with a 2.37 GAA and a 0.924 SV% (you can dig that up by clicking his name above and selecting dates using our handy Goalie Calculator tool).
So Edmonton now has a superstar and a quality goaltender. Now what? Well how about an experienced power forward and one of the better ones in the league? That’s what Lucic brings and his arrival gives the Oilers a huge physical, yet skilled, presence on three different lines with Patrick Maroon and Zach Kassian.
And finally, a right-handed shot on defense. How hard have the Oilers been looking for one of those? So desperate for one that they actually signed Nikitin to this big, obscene contract and hopes that he could improve their power-play. This time the skill level and pedigree is significantly better, as former fourth overall pick Larsson is now on board. A minute muncher, a defensive stalwart, and an underrated offensive gem, Larsson will change the dynamic of this team.
Although the loss of Hall is tough to swallow, especially given what they got back for him (Larsson), it is mitigated by the arrival of Jesse Puljujarvi. In fact, had they not drafted Puljujarvi (i.e. had he not ‘fallen into their lap’) I submit that the Oilers would not have traded Hall.
Ready for full-time – Puljujarvi had knee surgery late in the spring but will be fine for training camp and is expected to make the team. He is an all-around winger, responsible at both ends of the ice and with tremendous offensive upside that will only be enhanced when playing with the likes of McDavid. He’s 6-4, 203 pounds so he already has NHL size (and will only bulk up more over the years).
Griffin Reinhart has been a huge disappointment so far, and is clearly not going to pan out as the stud fourth-overall pick (2012) that was initially forecasted. The 22-year-old defenseman can still skip waivers so another AHL season or partial-season could be in the cards. But the Oilers are losing patience as they gave up both a first and a second-round draft pick to acquire him and they wanted a player who could play for them within two years.
David Musil was the 31st overall pick in 2011. The 6-4, 207-pound defenseman is said to be too slow for the NHL game, but we’ll for sure see for ourselves in October because he has to clear waivers in order to be sent down. So expect a couple dozen games with the big club before (if?) they give up on him. But he has no fantasy relevance.
Jordan Oesterle is a puck-moving rearguard whom the Oilers signed out of Western Michigan (NCHC) as an undrafted free agent in 2014. He has 51 points in 113 career AHL games since then and he played 17 games for the big club last season. But at this point he looks like he’ll be a depth player at best.
Fantasy Outlook – Say whatever you want about this team and their recent history. But as with Crosby and the Penguins, any team with McDavid almost gets an automatic ‘A’ simply from the fact that so many of your players could feasibly play on the same line or PP unit as this guy. So many players will see inflated numbers if not this year, then very soon. And if they don't, well, the risk is worth it. He makes everybody's upside higher.
The above paragraph is what I wrote last year and it still applies, so I’ll just leave that in there. The pipeline leaves something to be desired because the organization drafts so high that the top players go straight to the NHL roster, but some decent young defensemen are on the way up (eventually) and in Caggiula they signed the most dynamic college free agent available. But the NHL roster is so young (and signed for so long) that a good prospect pipeline isn’t as imperative as it is with most clubs.
Fantasy Grade: A (last year was A)