The 3 Best Oilers Fantasy Hockey Sleeper Options
We’ve already covered the top five fantastic options for the Edmonton Oilers. Fortunately, these are a very offensive-minded team that will also bring a lot of value to fantasy owners later in the draft. This group includes a newly acquired hard-working forward, an escape candidate ready to take off, and a veteran goalkeeper who continues to prove he still has it.
Anyone who enjoys constant exposure alongside Connor McDavid deserves a good taste in fantasy. At the very least, it should have an effect on offensive production and give this player confidence as the season progresses. Take Pat Maroon, for example; He has more points, over / under, shots and shooting percentage in two seasons of games alongside McDavid than he had as a member of the Anaheim Ducks for five seasons. This is, of course, largely attributed to playing alongside McDavid, but it’s also the increased ice time that comes as an effective addition to the Oilers captain.
We take a look at two players looking to ride this extremely high run to really stand out in Zach Hyman and Jesse Puljujarvi, and starting goalie Mike Smith, who will continue to show great numbers for his age.
Hyman is a player who was brought in on a lucrative deal to play on the left side of McDavid’s line and provide stability and close the revolving door. He’s used to playing with top talent, having spent his entire NHL career with the Toronto Maple Leafs alongside Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, two quick and dynamic players who need capable and intelligent complementary players.
Hyman is both capable and intelligent, as well as an extremely hard worker. His only downfall would be the time he 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 is no guarantee that he will get hurt, but with the style of play he plays, it opens up more possibilities for him.
Hyman is a 40-point double goalscorer and has averaged 0.74 points per game (P / G) over the past two shortened seasons which have also seen him run out of time. When he is in alignment and in good health, he is very effective. He is expected to have a good overview of the power play in position in front of the net. His best contender for the place is his teammate Puljujarvi, who has a big build and is tenacious around the net. I imagine these two are interchangeable in this spot on the top power play unit until one stands out from the other. Hyman hasn’t been able to get a good look at the Maple Leafs’ power play due to the high-end talent filling those roles. His value should rise if he has McDavid and Leon Draisaitl sending pucks on the league’s best power play.
McDavid scores many more points than either of the Toronto stars, and he also has plenty of points on the power play. If Hyman is by his side during all of this, a very reasonable points mark is 60 points or more with about 20 points on the power play. Combine that with the above average physical play, and you should have your eyes on him long before he projects to hit 160 in the Yahoo Fantasy Hockey League Draft. Although he ran out of time due to injury last season, he still finished in the top 150.
Puljujarvi will be one of the biggest sleepers of not only the Oilers but the NHL as well. Coming in later than 280 according to Yahoo’s ranking, it is almost criminal to steal it this late in the draft. He finished the season around the 200 mark, but keep in mind he played lower in the roster to start the season until he earns his spot. Beware, because others in your fantasy project may have the same thought. How should a McDavid lineman, a former fourth overall pick and a year-on-contract player, not perform very well. We have all seen the change in mentality in the game of Puljujarvi after he returned to North America on a bridge.
He came out last season and earned his place on the front row after starting in the last 6, then locked it down and proved why he belongs in the league. The 23-year-old has scored 15 goals in 55 games while using his body to make over 100 hits, excellent in leagues that count hits as a statistic or category.
Not only will Puljujarvi be exposed to McDavid every 5v5 shift, but he’s also fighting for a spot in the best power play unit with Hyman. He might not gain that much time on the power play, but he will, and that could make a big difference in an entire season. His shot totals also seem to be climbing, as he and McDavid are still flying around the ice. That space and McDavid’s ability to find Puljujarvi gives him the chance to get more pucks at the net, which translates into more shots and points. As he learns the game even more and develops even better chemistry with his line, he will be transparent as to where to go to be in the perfect position for tap-ins and high danger odds.
The Oilers brought back starting goaltender Smith after racking up incredible numbers last season after returning from injury. He missed the start of the season which reduced his fantasy value, but he was one of the better players after that. For some reason, Smith is ranked lower than Mikko Koskinen in some fantasy hockey formats. It only helps people who are knowledgeable. Some will see Smith very far down the list and think he won’t even come close to what he did last year or lose his 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. That’s after finishing the 2020-21 campaign in 40th place while running out of time to get injured. He also finished seventh in the vote for the VÃ©zina Trophy. A more veteran and confident group on the blue line could also help with the numbers.
Among goaltenders who played 15 or more games last season, Smith was seventh in save percentage (VS%) at .923. He also finished with the 12th best goal against average (GAA) with the same stipulations. He had three shutouts, which landed him sixth in the league. The last category that generates points in any type of league is wins, and Smith had 21, also ranked in seventh place. All of this proves that he should be drafted as a top 10 goalie, but with the ranking you can steal him decently late as a strong second or third goalie for your team.
It is shocking how ranked these players who can offer great value for little to no risk are. But if you do your research and pick one of those options as a no-brainer at the end of the draft, then you should get away with it and give yourself a real chance to take your fantasy hockey league this year.
Rob Couch is a THW freelance writer covering the Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers. As a fantasy hockey veteran, he’ll let you know about the best weekly options to pick up for your matchups. He also doesn’t mind going back for articles on hockey history.
You can find more of his work on Kraken Chronicle as well as The Faceoff Hockey Network. Or check out some interesting articles here.
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