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31 in 31

Edmonton Oilers fantasy preview for 2019-20

Nugent-Hopkins must-draft player among top 100 overall; Klefbom, Nurse, rookie defensemen eye first power-play spot

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / NHL.com Senior Fantasy Editor

As part of NHL.com's 31 in 31 series, the fantasy hockey staff identifies relevant players from the Edmonton Oilers. For more fantasy coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy and subscribe for free to the NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast.

 

[Oilers 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Top prospects | Behind the Numbers]

 

MORE FANTASY COVERAGETeam previews | Top 250 rankings | Cheat sheet

 

Connor McDavid, C (NHL.com rank: 3) -- He had an NHL career-high 116 points (41 goals, 75 assists) in 78 games, becoming the first NHL player with three straight seasons of at least 100 since Alex Ovechkin (2007-08 to 2009-10). McDavid skated mostly with elite forward Leon Draisaitl but could play on a separate line under new coach Dave Tippett. McDavid's category coverage (plus-3, 39 hits last season) is far from complete, and there's a chance his point total could dip slightly in Tippett's defensive system, but the center remains the highest-ceiling point producer in the game and shouldn't fall fall past the second or third pick in any fantasy format.

Video: Top 10 plays of 2018-19: McDavid

 

Leon Draisaitl, C/LW (7) -- The versatile forward played all three positions at different points last season under two very different coaches, Todd McLellan and Ken Hitchcock, and still managed to finish among the NHL's top five in goals (50, second) and points (105, fourth). Draisaitl, who also had NHL career highs in assists (55), power-play points (29) and shots on goal (231), joins McDavid among the top 10 overall fantasy options and could fall to the second half of the opening round because of team concerns.

Video: Top five plays of 2018-19: Draisaitl

 

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C/LW (93) -- He had a breakout season despite some position instability, finishing as Edmonton's third-leading scorer (69 points) by a wide margin; the next highest total among Oilers skaters was defenseman Darnell Nurse (41). Nugent-Hopkins played on the first power play much more often than he did the previous season, scoring an NHL career-high 26 PPP (nine in 2017-18). Fantasy owners have some reason to worry about Nugent-Hopkins' fantasy floor based on previous seasons, but he's still a must-draft player among the top 100 overall with a chance to play with McDavid or Draisaitl.

Video: LAK@EDM: Nugent-Hopkins nets hat trick in 1st period

 

Oscar Klefbom, D (160) -- The defenseman has missed significant time because of injury in each of the past two seasons but would likely be fantasy-relevant if healthy (38 points, 16 PPP in 2016-17). Between Nurse and rookie-eligible defensemen Evan Bouchard, Ethan Bear and Caleb Jones, Klefbom will have plenty of competition for first power-play duties. But coveted exposure to McDavid, Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins would give Klefbom a ceiling of at least 50 points.

Video: 31 in 31: Edmonton Oilers 2019-20 season preview

 

Mike Smith, G (208) -- It's likely to be a timeshare situation between the veteran Smith, who signed with the Oilers on July 1, and Mikko Koskinen, but Smith could have the upper hand given his familiarity with Tippett. Smith, who had his best NHL season under Tippett with the Phoenix Coyotes in 2011-12 (38 wins, .930 save percentage, eight shutouts), is 37 years old but can feasibly win the starting job after a respectable showing in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Calgary Flames (.917 SV% in five games). Koskinen, who had four shutouts last season, may be worth streaming in fantasy and could form a viable tandem with Smith.

Video: CGY@COL, Gm4: Smith stuffs Landeskog's shot in close

 

James Neal, LW/RW (235) -- There's a hole on the wing next to McDavid and Draisaitl, and Neal is a proven finisher who can bounce back in that spot. Neal, whose previous NHL career lows were 21 goals and a shooting percentage of 10.4 percent (twice), had by far the worst season of his NHL career (seven goals in 63 games, 5.0) in mostly a bottom-six role. But after being acquired from the Flames, Neal should compete with Zack Kassian for exposure to the Oilers' elite duo and is worth considering in the final round of a standard draft.

Video: Rupp discusses Lucic being traded for Neal

 

Other players to consider in late rounds or off waiver wire: Mikko Koskinen, G (214); Zack Kassian, RW (241); Darnell Nurse, D (244); Kailer Yamamoto, RW; Evan Bouchard, Ethan Bear or Caleb Jones, D

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