Day #1: Edmonton Oilers
2010 Record: 27-47-8 (74 Points), 15th place in the Western Conference
2010-2011 Notable Arrivals: D Kurtis Foster (TB), C Colin Fraser (CHI), G Martin Gerber (SWI), Alexandre Giroux (WAS), Jim Vandermeer (PHX),
2010-2011 Notable Departures: Ryan Potulny (FA), Robert Nilsson (KHL), Ethan Moreau (CBJ), Marc Andre Pouliot (TB), Fernando Pisani (CHI), Aaron Johnson (NSH), Ryan Stone (CGY),
Oilers Report Card
Forwards: Coming into 2010-2011, the Oilers will have an entire cast of new faces up front. Many of these fresh faces will be rookies such as Jordan Eberle, and recent No. 1 overall pick Taylor Hall. The Oilers are in the midst of a massive rebuild after a horrible season. The forward group struggled to put pucks in the net, and were decimated by an injury to key veteran Ales Hemsky for much of the campaign as well. The return of these two will definitely help to solidify the team’s top line. One forward who had an outstanding year was left winger Dustin Penner. After being written off as a bust by many, he emerged as a dangerous force around the goal and will hope to continue the success he had this season. However, the forward group lacks depth and will be relying heavily on its young players and hope that the future is now. It is going to take a lot of patience by Oilers' fans this season though as it is quite difficult to depend on young players to carry an entire team. With so much young talent on the cusp for the Oilers franchise the future is bright, but they're just not ready yet. The Oilers can only hope that players like Andrew Cogliano, Sam Gagner, and others can have a bounce-back year after such dismal play last season otherwise the Oilers will be in for another long season.
Overall Grade: C
Top Fantasy Forwards in 2010/2011: LW Dustin Penner (32G/31A/63Pts/+6), RW Ales Hemsky (7G/15A/22Pts/+7 in 22 GP), C Sam Gagner (15G/26A/41Pts/-8).
Defense: On defense, the Oilers also struggled for most of the 2009-2010 season, giving up the most goals against (284) in the entire NHL. Injuries to veterans Sheldon Souray and Lubomir Visnovsky, now with the Ducks, were crushing blows to an already thin blue line. In 2010-2011, the blue line does not look as though it will be very improved. The Oilers will benefit from having Ryan Whitney for a full year, and hope that Tom Gilbert can have a great bounce-back season. Another crushing blow for the Oilers is the situation with Sheldon Souray as they have been unable to move the defender because of his lucrative contract. Like the forward group, there is very little depth on the blue line beyond the top four of Souray, Gilbert, Ladislav Smid, and Kurtis Foster. It appears on paper that the Oilers will have a difficult time keeping pucks out of their net in 2010-11.
Overall Grade: D+
Top Fantasy Defenders in 2010/2011: Sheldon Souray (4G/19A/13Pts/-19), Tom Gilbert (5G/26A/31Pts/-10)
Goaltending: The goaltending position for the Oilers is filled with question marks. With starting goalie Nikolai Khabibulan having missed most of last season and now in trouble with the law after being found guilty of DUI, it is hard to judge who will man the crease in Edmonton. Jeff Drouin Deslauries filled in admirably in 2009-10, however he is not ready to play full time at the NHL level. The Oilers recently lured veteran goaltender Martin Gerber back to the NHL from Switzerland and might give him the majority of the starts in goal. Whoever winds up playing goal for Edmonton this season one thing is clear, he will be forced to see a great deal of action and shots and will need to shut the door to give the Oilers any hope of getting themselves out of the cellar in the Western Conference.
Overall Grade: D-
Top Fantasy Goaltender in 2010/2011: Martin Gerber (Did not play in NHL)
Prospects Watch (via hockeysfuture.com)
1. LW/C Taylor Hall
Drafted: 2010, No. 1 Overall
Current Team: Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
Key Attributes: Hall is the whole package. bringing great skating, playmaking, scoring ability, hockey sense, defensive responsibility, and even physical play to the table. He is a great leader, and leaves it all on the ice each and every night. He is a top end offensive-minded player, who can also contribute to the penalty kill and is also a great faceoff man. Hall will easily start on the Oilers to begin the year and will likely develop into the Oilers first line centre in a season or two.
2. LW Jordan Eberle
Drafted: 2008, 22nd Overall
Current Team: Regina Pats (WHL)/ Spingfield Falcons (AHL)
Key Attributes: Confident with the puck, not physically dominant but knows his role on the ice, strong offensive threat with more flash than grit. Also, he is a tremendous leader, leading by example on and off the ice. He is a virtual lock to make a rebuilding Oilers club.
3. LW Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson
Drafted: 2009, 10th Overall
Current Team: Timra (Elitserien) (SEL)
Key Attributes: Tremendous offensive upside with great speed and skill. Acceleration helps him to be tremendous one-on-one and at full speed can beat any defender. He has great hockey sense and can serve as both a playmaker and scorer.
4. D Jeff Petry
Drafted: 2006, second round, 45th overall
Previous Team: Michigan State University Spartans (NCAA)/Springfield Falcons (AHL)
Key Attributes: Excellent two-way defenseman with great speed and mobility. He is able to contribute offensively without diminishing his defensive game. He is also very capable of filling the role as a shutdown defender. Petry should have a legitimate shot at making the Oilers roster out of camp, but could likely use another season at the AHL level to gain more experience as a pro.
5. Linus Omark
Drafted: 2007, fourth round, 97th Overall
Previous Team: Lulea HF (SEL)
Key Attributes: Flashy, offensive forward with great touch and excellent hands. Needs work defensively, but can be trusted in his own zone. Great agility and can very much be classified as a dangler. Omark has made his way to North America and will likely make the Oilers' roster out of camp.
Analysts’ Fantasy Stud: RW Ales Hemsky
Fantasy owners of Hemsky should expect the usual production from the flashy, right winger, and barring another injury should put up a minimum of 70 points this season. He will benefit from having a legitimate No. 1 left winger or possibly center in Taylor Hall, making Hemsky a must add in all leagues.
Analysts’ Player to Avoid: C Shawn Horcoff
Horcoff is a fantasy hockey manager’s nightmare; he is listed as a No. 1 center but has never played up to the billing. His plus/minus numbers are atrocious, and he does not produce enough to overcome them. With Hall coming in, it is likely that Horcoff will be demoted to second-line duties, and possibly to the third line if Sam Gagner or Andrew Cogliano can return to form. Avoid Horcoff at all costs.
Analysts’ Sleeper Special: D Tom Gilbert
Gilbert had a rough season in 2009-2010, but who on the Oilers didn’t. Gilbert is young, and very talented offensively and will be looked upon to quarterback the Edmonton power play, which actually has the potential to be quite dangerous. Besides, a defenseman who in an off year can record 31 points definitely has tremendous upside. Owners can likely get Gilbert late in most drafts, and the gamble that he will bounce back just might pay off.
Expectations and Prediction:
The Oilers come off a truly disappointing 2009/2010 and are hoping that they can make a quick turn around this season. They will be relying heavily on two very key prospects in Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle to help the team right the ship this year. This is very much a rebuilding season for the Oilers, and fans should expect a very youthful 25-man roster when the season begins. Fans will need to be patient as these young players learn about the professional game and grow as players. The Oilers will need players to step up at all positions if they’re going to have any chance of competing in the Northwest division and in the entire conference. It will be fun to watch the first overall pick in action in Edmonton, and he will be given every opportunity to play and perform. It is difficult to speculate, but it could very well be another long season in Oil country this year.
Prediction: 15th in the Western Conference.
Overall Team Grade: D+
Look Out Tomorrow for Day 2: The Toronto Maple Leafs from Brad Leclair. Articles can also be viewed @ www.sportshaze.com