For the last 14 years (12 with The Hockey News) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
This year, due to Dobber’s battle with cancer, he recruited Cam Robinson (of Frozen Pool Forensics fame) to pinch hit. The 15th 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 – Out goes Jordan Eberle’s seven years of service and six-million-dollar price tag, and in comes the fifth overall pick from 2011 in Ryan Strome. On paper, this move seems to be exactly what each player needed: a fresh start. However, Edmonton moved a winger who has never played below a 20-goal pace for a player who has yet to play at that pace. Strome will likely get a chance to play throughout the lineup and could find chemistry with Connor McDavid and take off. More realistically, he ends up beside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the team’s third line. The Oilers signed Jokinen as a veteran winger to help alleviate the loss of Eberle, while adding Stanton and Auvitu to strengthen their defensive depth. Auvitu could be a dark horse to see some prime ice with the man-advantage should injuries arise.
Ready for full-time – After falling to fourth overall last June, it appeared that Jesse Puljujarvi was destined to step off the draft floor, onto McDavid’s line and promptly begin his illustrious career. Things didn’t go so smoothly for the powerful Fin with just a goal and eight points n 28 contests and he found himself in the AHL early in 2017. There, Puljujarvi displayed his great speed and skill and looked more confident with each outing. Heading into 2017-18, he should have a very strong chance at securing a top nine right-wing spot with second unit power-play time. The breakout may not be this season, but it’s not far off. Read more on Puljujarvi here.
Anton Slepyshev saw 41 NHL contests last season as he bounced in and out of the lineup. He looked more comfortable and confident in the back half and saw some time up on the third line. He also produced three goals in 12 playoff games. It is expected that the Russian winger will have a full-time position on the team this coming season and could chip in 20-odd points in a depth role. Read more on Slepyshev here.
Laurent Brossiot has taken a well-worn developmental path for goaltenders. Drafted as a sixth-round pick by the Flames in 2011, the British Columbia-native spent two more years in the WHL followed by four more seasons bouncing between professional leagues. After accruing a very impressive 1.99GAA and .928 save percentage in eight NHL games last season, the 24-year-old appears destined to play the back-up role for Cam Talbot. He shouldn’t get too excited about his workload though, as Talbot played a league-high 73 games last season. The 6’3” net minder has the size and athleticism to hold the fort for short durations should injuries hit the team’s undisputed starter. Read more on Brossiot here.
Fantasy Outlook – Years of dreadful results have finally resulted in a team built for supporting fantasy hockey teams. McDavid is the clear number one asset in most formats, Leon Draisaitl has emerged as a top-10 producer at just age 21, and Talbot has become a top five goaltender. On the back end, Oscar Klefbom appears ready to handle the main power play duties with Andrej Sekera on the shelf to begin the season and could flirt with 50 points. Other fantasy relevant talent includes Milan Lucic and Patrick Maroon who both vie for the role of power winger on the top lines and RNH still brings a consistent 45-55 points per season. Their prospect pipeline thins out a bit after Puljujarvi, but Ethan Bear just finished his junior career and is defender to keep your eye on. At the end of the day, the McDavid-factor alone pushes all available assets up a notch as anyone number of players could get a look on his wing and that keeps this team extremely high on the list of assets to acquire.
Fantasy Grade: A (Last year: A)
Click here to read the other offseason fantasy grades given out so far from Cam Robinson!
- Ramblings: Tkachuk's Value Taking Off (Feb 20)
- Fantasy Impact: Petr Mrazek Traded to the Flyers
- Fantasy Top-10: Under the Radar Trade Candidates
- Top 100 Keeper League Goaltenders - February 2018
- Wild West: Bright Spots in Arizona
- Bjugstad Buzzing
- Four Power Plays Clicking in the Second Half
- Keeping Karlsson no. 177: The Gift of Gaborik