We already cover the top five fantasy options for the Edmonton Oilers. Luckily enough, this is a very offensive-minded team that will provide lots of value to fantasy owners later in the draft as well. This group features a newly acquired hard-working forward, a breakout candidate set to take off, and a veteran goalie who continues to prove he still has it.
Anyone who is getting consistent exposure alongside Connor McDavid deserves to get a good look when it comes to fantasy. At the very least, it should have an effect on offensive production and give that player confidence as the season progresses. Take Pat Maroon, for example; he has more points, plus/minus, shots, and shooting percentage in two seasons worth of games beside McDavid than he did as a member of the Anaheim Ducks for five seasons. This is, of course, attributed largely to playing alongside McDavid, but it’s also the increase in ice time that comes along with being an efficient complement to the Oilers’ captain.
We take a look at two players that look to ride that extremely high ride to really pop off in Zach Hyman and Jesse Puljujarvi, and the starting goalie Mike Smith, who will continue to put up excellent numbers for his age.
Hyman is a player that was brought over on a lucrative deal to play on the left side of McDavid’s line and provide stability and close the revolving door. He is used to playing with top-end talent, as he spent his entire NHL career on the Toronto Maple Leafs playing alongside Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, both fast and dynamic players who need complementary players that are capable and smart.
Hyman is both capable and smart, as well as an extremely hard worker. His one downfall would be the time he’s missed over the past three seasons due to injury. That could lower his value and make his pick in a later round even sweeter if he stays healthy and plays around 80 games for the Oilers. There’s no guarantee that he will get injured, but with the style of game he plays, it opens up the opportunity for it more.
Hyman is a two-time 40-point scorer, and has averaged 0.74 points per game (P/G) over the past two shortened seasons that also saw him miss time. When he is in the lineup and healthy, he is very efficient. He is expected to get a good look on the power play in the net-front position. His top competition for the spot is linemate Puljujarvi, who has a big frame and is tenacious around the net. I imagine these two being interchangeable in that spot on the top power-play unit until one sets themselves apart from the other. Hyman wasn’t able to get a good look on the Maple Leafs power play due to the high-end talent filling those roles. His value should shoot up if he has McDavid and Leon Draisaitl sending pucks through on the league’s top power play.
McDavid scores significantly more points than either of Toronto’s stars, and he records a lot of power play points as well. If Hyman is by his side through all of this, a very reasonable point mark is 60 points or higher with around 20 power play points. Combine this with the above-average physical play, and you should have your eyes on him well before he projects to go around 160 in Yahoo Fantasy Hockey league drafts. While missing time to injury last season, he still finished in the top 150.
Puljujarvi is going to be one of the heaviest sleepers from not only the Oilers, but also the NHL. Coming in later than 280 as ranked by Yahoo, it’s almost criminal to steal him that late in the draft. He finished the season around the 200-mark, but keep in mind that he played lower in the lineup to start the season until he earned his spot. Be wary, as some others in your fantasy draft may have the same thought. How is a player on McDavid’s line, a former fourth overall pick, and a player on a contract year, not expected to perform great. We all saw the change in mentality in Puljujarvi’s game after returning to North America on a bridge deal.
He went out last season and earned his spot on the top line after starting in the bottom-6, then locked it down and proved why he belongs in the league. This 23-year-old potted 15 goals in 55 games while using his body to make over 100 hits, excellent in leagues that count hits as a stat or category.
Not only will Puljujarvi have exposure to McDavid every shift at 5-on-5, but he is also fighting for a spot on the top power-play unit with Hyman. He may not earn as much time on the power play, but he will earn some, and that could make a big difference in an entire season. His shot totals look to climb as well, as he and McDavid are always flying around the ice. This space and the ability for McDavid to find Puljujarvi provides him with the opportunity to get more pucks on net, resulting in more shots and points. As he learns the game even more and develops even better chemistry with his line, it will be seamless in knowing where to go to be in perfect position for tap-ins and high-danger chances.
The Oilers brought back starting goaltender Smith after he put up incredible numbers last season once returning from injury. He missed the start of the season, so it lowered his fantasy value, but he was one of the top players after that. For some reason, Smith is ranked lower than Mikko Koskinen in some fantasy hockey formats. That only helps people who are knowledgeable. Some will see Smith very far down the list and think that he won’t perform even close to what he did last year or lose the starting job. Age didn’t seem to matter to him last season and shouldn’t matter too much this year either.
According to Yahoo, Smith’s preseason ranking is an astonishing 370. This is after he finished up the 2020-21 campaign ranked 40 while missing time to injury. He also finished seventh in Vezina Trophy voting. A more veteran and confident group on the blue line could help with numbers as well.
Of the goalies who played 15 or more games last season, Smith ranked seventh in save percentage (SV%) at .923. He also ended with the 12th best goal against average (GAA) with the same stipulations. He had three shutouts, which tied for sixth in the league. The final category that generates points in any sort of league is wins, and Smith had 21, also ranked in seventh place. All of these prove that he should be drafted within the top-10 goalies, but with the rankings, you will be able to steal him decently late as a strong second or third goalie for your team.
It is shocking how low these players who can provide great value for little to no risk are ranked. But if you do your research and select any of these options as no-brainers late in drafts, then you should be fine and give yourself a real shot at taking your fantasy hockey league this year.
Rob Couch is a THW freelance writer covering mainly the Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers. He covers everything you need to know about fantasy hockey. He will also keep you up to date with NHL Stats News, trade talks, and daily betting guides.
You can find more of his work here.