Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Edmonton Oilers
For the last 15 years (12 with The Hockey News, last year’s via pinch-hitter Cam Robinson) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
The 16th 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 – It looks like just a simple dressing room upgrade this summer, along with what is probably going to be a huge upgrade in the backup goaltender. Brodziak is a strong dressing room presence, Gravel is a depth defenseman with a lot of size, and Rieder offers good two-way depth although his offensive upside can be overrated at times. Koskinen has been a top KHL goaltender for years and if Cam Talbot stumbles again this year and Koskinen could theoretically steal the top job if he dominates the NHL half as well. Talbot had a heavy workload the last two seasons, averaging 70 starts, and he also had twin babies that no doubt threw him off his schedule at times.
The message here is that the team plans to play with the hand they have. The main weakness – defense – can’t be fixed via free agency. And when they tried, well, you know how that story went. To try the trade route again would have other NHL GMs licking their chops. No thank you. With a better workload and mindset, Talbot will bounce back. And with Connor McDavid lighting it up with his newfound wingman Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the 7-6 wins will be fun to watch. McDavid had 61 points in his last 39 games, with RNH a big part of that over the final 20. Moving Ryan Strome to third-line center and making Nugent-Hopkins first-line left wing was a great move for all involved and completely changed Edmonton’s fortunes, albeit too late. Now GM Peter Chiarelli is gambling on that magic just continuing.
Ready for full-time – Ethan Bear gave mixed results during his 18-game stint with the big club late last season. On one hand he showed some creativity and vision when it comes to the offense. But there was plenty of bad decision-making and with his lack of foot speed he often can’t recover from those bad decisions. But everything is a lesson for 21-year-olds and it’s all a part of the development curve. Bear is still the next guy in line for a recall when the team needs a defenseman (and if they don't find a replacement for Andrej Sekera that could be sooner than they should). Added AHL time will only help, and that is probably where he will be for at least the first half of the season. (Read Bear's scouting profile here)
Cooper Marody was acquired from the Flyers in the summer after a strong college campaign. The Oilers signed him shortly after as he forewent his senior year. The team will likely give him a look this season at some point. He had 51 points in 40 games for Michigan in 2017-18, and is a right-shooting centerman who could be an answer to their right wing problem if the other attempts (Ty Rattie, Pontus Aberg, Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto) fail to bear fruit right away. (Read Marody's scouting profile here)
Speaking of Rattie, he will finally get his shot. He signed his first one-way contract after closing out last season on the McDavid line. He’s 25 and most pundits believe that at that age his odds of making the jump so late and succeeding are slim. This is partially the product of him being such a highly regarded prospect when he was 18, 19, 20 and 21 – perhaps poolies feel jaded? He has his shortcomings, but did anyone care about Rob Brown’s shortcomings when he was putting the puck in the net alongside Mario Lemieux? Did anyone care about Matt Moulson’s shortcomings when he was doing the same alongside John Tavares? If Rattie is given 20 games alongside McDavid, I think he’ll make it work. If Coach Todd McLellan loses patience under fan pressure if things look terrible eight games in – then it won’t work. I’m going to put it at 30% that McDavid makes a Matt Moulson out of him. Bold? Well that’s my middle name. In fact, if you type DobBoldHockey.com in the URL bar up top it will forward you to this site. Not really. (Read Rattie's scouting profile here)
Edmonton Oilers prospect depth chart and fantasy upsides can be found here (not yet ready for mobile viewing, desktop only right now)
Fantasy Outlook – Anytime you have a forward who can potentially get 70 points, then you want that forward. Even if the odds are slim. Well, on the Oilers you can say that about most of the forwards that have one iota of offensive skill. Yes, this means you have a bunch of fantasy owners running around with a butterfly net trying to catch something and often looking foolish doing it, but it’s what makes fantasy hockey fun. The thrill of the catch! Can you imagine if Pontus Aberg clicks with McDavid and sticks all year? He did for a handful of games when he first arrived from Nashville. And Ty Rattie? What about wunderkind Kailer Yamamoto? Former fourth overall pick Jesse Puljujarvi? Enticing us further is that there is a consolation prize. If the winger doesn’t click with 110-point McDavid, then perhaps he settles for 75-point Leon Draisaitl. That would mean 60 or 65 for a skilled winger, which is also a great result.
The Oilers seem inept and it starts with management. But teams built around generational talent get it right eventually. Not most of the time – all of the time. You just saw a Cup won by one of them! So my faith in Edmonton remains unflagging, and I would love to own any fantasy relevant player on this team.
Fantasy Grade: A- (last year was A)
Other Fantasy Grades:
- Top 10 Buy-Low Candidates - Fall, 2019
- 21 Fantasy Hockey Rambles
- Ramblings: The 10 Biggest Worries (Of My Projections)…and The 10 Guide Projections I’m Not Budging (Oct 14)
- Ramblings: Demko's cage; Philly's second line; Hjalmarsson and Hischier injured; recaps - October 15
- Top 300 Keeper League Skaters - October 2019
- Geek of the Week: Can Kevin Labanc Be A Breakout Star?
- Wild West: Early Hot Streaks (2019)
- Fantasy Hockey Podcast: Martin Jones, Martin Jones, Wake Up Now