When it comes to selecting players for your 2021-22 Fantasy Draft hockey team(s), there are sure to be a few members of the Edmonton Oilers near the top of your list. In fact, if you don’t have Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl as #1 and #2, you’re likely in the minority.
The waters get a little murkier after that. There are some strong players on other teams that will make a Top Ten list — maybe even a Top 20 — before looking at the Oilers again. That doesn’t mean you should rule out a few other roster members when building your fantasy team in the later rounds. This article will offer some advice, suggestions, and explanations as to why at least five other Oilers should stay in the back of your mind.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Will Bounce Back
He didn’t have the greatest season and his five-on-five point production wasn’t wonderful in 2020-21, but expect Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to have a bounce-back campaign and he’ll always be good for his fair share of power-play points. Nuge has been consistent since joining the NHL in 2011 and even last year, when fans and insiders were critical, he was producing.
He finished with 35 points in 52 games, which isn’t bad. The key to remember though is that this was an outlier and how much he’s relied on when the Oilers are up a man. With more cross-checking penalties called and the Oilers as dangerous as ever, the points will come. If you get bonus points for power-play production, he’s definitely someone you want to consider.
Jesse Puljujarvi Will Break Out This Season
Some fans will say, ‘preseason is just preseason’, but in the case of Jesse Puljujarvi, he looks like a completely different player — a step above the completely different player he looked like last season. He’s figuring out his game, how it meshes with the team and the Oilers are loving every second of it.
It would take something dramatic for him to get moved off that top line with McDavid and playing with him most of the season will equate to points. Expect 25-plus in the goals department and don’t be shocked to see him break the 60-point marker with ease. No, his track record in the NHL has not shown he’s got the potential to take such a large jump, but if you’re going to take a flyer on any player in the NHL that can improve by leaps and bounds, he might be your guy.
Tyson Barrie Will Get Points From the Blue Line
If your draft requires you take a defenseman, the early picks will probably go to Victor Hedman and Cale Makar. That’s fair. Don’t sleep on Tyson Barrie. He’s continually undervalued because he’s not the strongest defender in the NHL, but he’s extremely good at what he’s good at. He gets points, especially on the power play. If you don’t think that’s important, refer to the Nugent-Hopkins section of this article.
The only downside to taking Barrie might be the emergence of Evan Bouchard. Eventually, the Oilers will hope that Bouchard can take the natural step to become the team’s top power-play unit quarterback. If that happens, Barrie’s minutes might go down. Don’t expect that transition to be immediate.
Zach Hyman Will Pick Up Easy Goals
Whether he stays on the first line or moves to the second, Zach Hyman likely won’t move out of the top six. He can play anywhere in the lineup, but he’s pegged to slot in beside either McDavid or Leon Draisaitl and because of that, he’ll pick up some very easy goals and secondary assists.
His job is to dig out the puck and retrieve it for his stars. He’s good at it and your fantasy team will be rewarded if you have him on it. Like Puljujarvi, Hyman doesn’t have a ton of points on his NHL resume to suggest he’s going to pot in 65 points this season. But, if your team needs a player who hits, blocks shots or it uses other metrics in their calculations, Hyman isn’t a bad choice.
Darnell Nurse Fits So Many Categories
Again, big-name defensemen will be selected early if the rules of your fantasy draft require it. Don’t let too many rounds slip before considering Darnell Nurse. He’s going to get boatloads of ice time, he’s seeing a bit more power-play time and he’s good for blocked shots and hits, including fights if that counts.
If your draft rewards you for 5-v-5 production, he’s a very good bet based on last season’s numbers.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”