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Oilers Fantasy Hockey Forecast - 10/19/2010

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers
Week two of Oilers Fantasy Hockey saw some interesting storylines develop, which means your next round of picks are crucial to maintain a strong pace. The team didn't fare so well on its brief two-game road trip, falling twice to Northwest Division foes when they visited Minnesota and Calgary. Staying up-to-date on who and who not to pick could have a definite impact on the standings over the next few games.


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Just like that old adage goes: Offence wins games, but defence wins championships. Consider a week of losing hockey your defence. Anyone can look smart when the team is winning, but the true test of battle and mental fortitude comes when the team struggles. Your picks need to be made strategically to gain an edge on your competitors, as heroes and goats can emerge in an instant.

And that's where I come in. To give you a brief update on my personal hockey pool: I remain in the basement but am slowly crawling back into second-to-last place contention. It's this "defence" that has really helped me a establish a firm grasp on expert analysis; a unteachable skill that only a few can master.

Remember, I'm an advisor. Although none of which have been mine, I've seen some incredible Fantasy Hockey picks in my day. Sometimes the sideline view gives you a different perspective and removes any potential emotional attachment.

Having said that, I hope to pass on a bit of my wisdom to you, as you look to climb the ladder and come one step closer to Fantasy Hockey glory.


Theo Peckham currently sits in second-place on the Oilers Fantasy Hockey leaderboard.
It would be a crime not to mention the surge that rookie defenceman Theo Peckham is currently riding. While no one could have predicted such a strong start from the rugged blueliner, I did make a case for him last week and want to maintain that theme into this week's action.

While his point totals weren't earth-shattering on the brief road trip, they were solid enough. Many of his teammates saw incredible fluctuation in their numbers; peaks and valleys not seen in Fantasy Hockey since Tom Chorske's '93-'94 season. And we all remember how that turned out.

The point is that, as a responsible Fantasy Hockey player, you need to remember to keep an even keel. Don't get blinded by inflated weekly numbers. This isn't to say that you shouldn't pay attention to strong performances, but you need to balance your lineup with a variety of skill-sets and value contracts. Everyone needs foot soldiers, and Theo Peckham provides solid numbers at incredible value. Get him into your lineup for Thursday night.


I don't need to convince you that Nikolai Khabibulin has been playing stellar hockey for the Oilers so far this season, and that includes his strong performances in both Minnesota and Calgary when the team struggled in other positions. Khabibulin continues to sit atop the leaderboard with 108 hard-earned points, with no one else within reasonable striking distance. While his cap-hit means he's an investment, he's a safe bet to perform and provide a jolt to your point totals.

As far as skaters are concerned, both Ryan Whitney and Shawn Horcoff continue to impress with strong showings. The two provide a stable, veteran presence that will surely contribute on a nightly basis. While Horcoff plays alongside talented wingers Eberle and Hall in a game made for explosive offence, Whitney provides solid minutes on the blueline with plenty of time on the powerplay. Whitney's strong shot blocking ability is a tremendous asset as well, although his lack of hard-hitting physical play to this point is a mild concern.

Whitney and Horcoff currently find themselves with 57 and 42 fantasy points respectively. Combined, the two have put up six points in eight games and look to be poised to continue their strong play as we head into a new week.

While the two are both producing at an excellent rate, they're also heavy investments for your lineup. Horcoff and Whitney have a combined cap-hit of $10 million; unless you expect these two to produce at an incredible pace over the next week, it would likely be a good idea to pick one of the two for your lineup and invest in some less expensive options elsewhere.


Taylor Hall came close against the Flames, but will be looking to find the net for the first tme this week against the Wild & Sharks.
Last week, I noted that Magnus Paajarvi was coming on and could likely have a breakout game of sorts on the now completed road trip. Paajarvi recorded his first NHL points with a goal and an assist Saturday night in Calgary.

Paajarvi's 25 fantasy points resulting from his performance made him the most valuable skater on the Oilers roster that night.

If we're basing selections on who's poised to have a breakout game, the obvious next choice would have to be Taylor Hall. Although we're only four games into this young season, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi have beaten Hall to the punch when it comes to scoring his first goal.

There may or may not be any extra pressure, but there's no doubt he'll want to get his first out of the way in a hurry to get the monkey off his back. Hall has been getting his chances, so it now becomes a matter of bearing down and capitalizing on those opportunities. Bet on it happening in short order.


I'll begin by stating the obvious: The Oilers have struggled in the faceoff circle so far. Those struggles seemed to reach a head on Saturday night when the Oilers lost 71% of all the faceoffs taken.

While Shawn Horcoff and Colin Fraser have been the team's best performers on the dot, the entire team has struggled as a unit. Even Horcoff and Fraser had significant trouble against the Flames, indicating that this team epidemic may be far from over.

With that said, I'd caution you when choosing a centreman for your lineup. While Sam Gagner currently has four points in four games and leads the Oilers in scoring, his faceoff percentage has hurt his fantasy point-totals. In a scoring format that puts tremendous weight on a number of statistics, a poor faceoff percentage can hurt an otherwise good performance. I'm not going to tell you not to select any centres for your team, but at least be aware of the fact that there's a risk associated with the selection.


Top 10


In only two games to work with, slim2001 played a solid week and extended his lead from 39 to 50 points over second-place Mazimuz. The game remains close and I admire both of our top two players for keeping the race so interesting early on.

The race for first goes well beyond the top two, however. Second on back to 84th is only separated by 100 points, so it truly is anyone's game at this point.


One of the most important aspects of sport, and Oilers Fantasy Hockey in particular, is to never let your emotions get the best of you. You'll experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, but you need to stay calm and confident. Remember that a lead can be lost quickly and that any deficit can be overcome.

And always, always consult the Oilers Fantasy Hockey Forecast before making your picks.

Talk to you guys next week. Good luck, everyone!
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