As part of NHL.com's 31 in 31 series, our fantasy hockey staff is breaking down each team's fantasy landscape. Fantasy-relevant players are listed in order of rank in NHL.com's top 250. Today, we look at the Edmonton Oilers.
[OILERS 31 IN 31: Season preview | Top prospects | 3 Questions | Behind the numbers | More fantasy previews]
Connor McDavid, C -- He exceeded lofty preseason expectations by leading the NHL with 100 points (30 goals, 70 assists) with elite coverage of plus/minus (plus-27), power-play points (27) and shots on goal (251) last season. He thrived alongside mostly Leon Draisaitl and Patrick Maroon in his first full NHL season, and could have an even higher ceiling in the years to come. McDavid, 20, is the sure-fire No. 1 fantasy pick, regardless of format.
Video: SJS@EDM, Gm2: McDavid pots first playoff goal in win
Leon Draisaitl, C/RW -- He broke out for 77 points (29 goals, 48 assists) and 27 PPP last season, and was even more impressive in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 13 games. He had a high shooting percentage (16.9 in regular season; 27.3 in postseason) and could be moved to second-line center to spread out the scoring, but is still worth a top 20 overall pick with coveted exposure to McDavid on the power play (at the very least).
Milan Lucic, LW -- Of all the appealing Oilers forwards in mid-to-late rounds, Lucic is the safest option because of his strong category coverage. He was one of five players with at least 50 points, 25 PPP and 50 penalty minutes last season (Alex Ovechkin, Jamie Benn, Wayne Simmonds, Mike Hoffman), finishing 76th in Yahoo. He's a near lock to finish among the top 125 and has added value in a hits league (five straight full seasons of at least 200).
Patrick Maroon, LW -- He ranked second on the Oilers in even-strength goals (24; McDavid had 26), and was a regular PIMs contributor (95; 13th among forwards). The 29-year-old had NHL career-highs in goals (27), points (42), plus/minus (plus-13) and SOG (178) to finish 78th in Yahoo, but could be bound for some regression after a high shooting percentage (15.2). A number of players could also cut into his even-strength playing time alongside McDavid.
Jesse Puljujarvi, RW -- The 19-year-old should play closer to a full season at the NHL level after having eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 28 games as a rookie. He was productive for Bakersfield of the American Hockey League, scoring 28 points (12 goals, 16 assists) in 39 games. Puljujarvi could have a path to the top line with McDavid and Draisaitl. Target him as a sleeper outside the top 150 overall.
Ryan Strome, C/RW -- The 24-year-old has fallen way short of his NHL career-high 50 points (from 2014-15) in each of the past two seasons, and did not perform well in a first power-play role last season with the New York Islanders (eight PPP in 69 games). That said, Strome is likely to take on a top-six role in Edmonton after being acquired for Jordan Eberle, and could bounce back in a spot where Eberle scored 51 points last season. No one should be surprised if Strome sees some time with McDavid and puts up NHL career bests in three or four standard categories.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C -- The second-line center had 43 points (18 goals, 25 assists), 11 PPP and an NHL career-high 200 SOG. If he remains in that role, he could benefit from the Oilers adding Strome and veteran Jussi Jokinen and return to 50 points for the first time since 2014-15 (56). A shooting percentage correction (9.0 percent in regular season; no goals on 33 playoff SOG) would do wonders for his fantasy stock.
Video: 31 in 31: Edmonton Oilers 2017-18 season preview
Oscar Klefbom -- With veteran defenseman Andrej Sekera out until at least November because of a torn ACL, the stage is set for Klefbom to take a further step forward. Klefbom led Oilers defensemen with 12 goals, 38 points and 16 PPP last season, and Sekera's totals (eight goals, 35 points, 11 PPP) indicate there will be plenty of offense to go around in his absence. To what extent the additional minutes are shared between Klefbom and Darnell Nurse, Adam Larsson and Kris Russell remains to be seen, but Klefbom has realistic 50-point upside with an expanded role in this potent offense.
Cam Talbot -- He was the breakout goaltender of last season, tying Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals for the League lead in wins (42) and finishing fifth among fantasy goalies in Yahoo. Talbot led the NHL in starts (73) with seven more than the next goalie (Frederik Andersen of the Toronto Maple Leafs, 66), so the Oilers need to lighten his start volume a bit so it doesn't catch up to him. Talbot remains one of the most appealing fantasy goalies in the game and should win 36-40 games again. He could even improve his peripherals if backup Laurent Brossoit takes on a heavier workload (four starts last season).
Video: Talbot lands at No. 7 on the list
Others to consider: Jussi Jokinen (LW), Adam Larsson (D), Drake Caggiula (C/LW), Darnell Nurse (D), Mark Letestu (C), Kris Russell (D)