If you have yet to check out the reviews of our Dobber Hockey Experts draft, I highly recommend you do so. There are some really interesting perspectives and insights on how managers draft their teams, as well as what they look for. The event was a three hour slugfest that felt more like a late 1980's wrestling Battle Royal than a hockey draft. By the end of it I knew more about depth players like Deryk Engelland, Cam Atkinson, and Gustav Nyquist than I ever cared to.
When it was all said and done I had even broken my cardinal rule of taking anyone from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Typically my fear is that their lacklusterness will spread throughout the rest of my roster like a brush fire, but I suppose Ryan Johansen's center and right wing eligibility could come in handy.
That's actually the great thing about fantasy sports; even players from weaker teams have relevance. Perhaps there is no greater evidence of this than the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers have several players that could be fantasy studs in 2012-13, and a few that already are. With a horrible defensive squad, the Oilers are going to need to win games 4-3 and 5-4 on regular basis to hope to have a shot at the playoffs. While that may mean good news for Edmonton skaters, Nikolai Khabibulin and Devan Dubnyk could be in for a long season. It's almost like in fantasy football when you take a quarterback on a bad team because you know they will often be playing from behind, and ultimately throwing the ball an absurd amount of times. That's kind of how I picture the Oilers. Instead of trying to improve the defense, let's just stock up on even more offense and just outscore everyone.
Could you imagine being Oklahoma City Barons owner Bob Funk, Jr. right now? The guy must feel like Jed Clampett and that he actually did strike Oil. With all that young Oiler talent playing for OKC because of the work stoppage, I bet Funk hopes the lockout goes on for another ten years.
Let's have a look at a few Oiler skaters and their expectations for the upcoming campaign.
Perhaps a forgotten talent on this high powered roster, Whitney has really battled injuries in recent years. When healthy he can be a real offensive force and a power play specialist from the back end. In just 51 games last year he managed ten points with the man advantage and added a solid 85 blocked shots as well. If he can play a full season with this group it's not unreasonable for Whitney to hit 50 points.
Schultz may benefit the most from spending some time in Oklahoma City. Although a high scoring defenseman from the University of Wisconsin, his inexperience and lack of bulk could really get exposed defensively at the NHL level. Expect him to play on a lower pairing and get some power play opportunities. His development may follow a similar path to that of Cam Fowler from the Anaheim Ducks in that he has too much offensive upside to keep out of the lineup, but his plus/minus could end up resembling the temperature of a cold winter night.
Arguably the most proven of Oiler forwards, Eberle had an outstanding 2011-12 and in the process helped me to a fantasy hockey championship. But I digress. A 76 point campaign even though he was missing many other Edmonton forwards for long stretches due to injuries, really made a statement. He is easily the teams most consistent forward as he recorded points in nearly 62% of his games, had 21 multi-point games, and had a stretch last year where he had points in 16 of 18 games. No reason to think he can't even exceed that a little with a healthier supporting cast in 2012-13.
It would have been interesting to see what RNH could have with a full campaign in 2011-12. Injuries limited him to just 62 games, where he recorded 52 points. Had he played the full 82 there would have been a strong chance he could have won the Calder. The most encouraging thing about his production is that nearly half his points came on the power play and he racked up a whopping 134 shots. It may be wise, however, to be cautious of a sophomore slump and not count on his production to skyrocket, but has the tools to get to 70 points sooner rather than later.
Maybe the most physically gifted of all the young Oilers talent, Hall has fought through his own share of injuries which has limited his production. Hall's points per game were second on the team at .97 and it only took him 61 games last year to lead the team in shots with 207. Over 82 games he easily would have been in the top 10 in the entire NHL. Hall has a great chance to lead the team in scoring if he can get a full season from start to finish under his belt.
A little more two-way minded then the rest of the Oilers core, Paajarvi could get a shot on Edmonton's second line in 2012-13. While he may not have the offensive skill that the other forwards have, his speed is a great asset and he should be capable to get around 20-25 goals. Hey, it would be tough not to playing in that top six.
Gagner had 47 points in 2011-12, including eight in one game that counted for over 17% of his production. That magical game against the Chicago Blackhawks may have caused Yahoo to nearly crash because of all the waiver claims being sent in, but Gagner has really never been all that consistent. He is a streaky player that can go long stretches without points and should be looked at as a depth guy for your squad. If he gets 50 points then you made out well.
Yakupov is a wild card on this Oilers squad. We have yet to see him in NHL action, but if his production in junior is any indication, then he is certainly worth a risk. He posted 170 points in only 107 games with the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League. Now obviously don't expect those kinds of numbers at the next level, at least not right away, but it is conceivable that Yakupov could hit 60 points in the right situation. And maybe rookie of the year honors while he's at it.
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