The next team in the 2023 Fantasy Hockey Team Preview is the Edmonton Oilers. If you got any of the top players in Edmonton last year in fantasy hockey, you were laughing at the stellar offensive production. The core group of forwards all had career years and the power play was the best the league has seen.
This team led the league in goals last season and was a top team. Both of these should be true again this season and the wealth will definitely be spread to others. The Oilers look even better this season and can score at even strength, the power play, and shorthanded. There could also be some surprises in the lineup this season as well. Now let’s get into each position and the fantasy value you can expect from players in Edmonton this season.
Edmonton Oilers Fantasy Hockey Preview
McDavid and the Top Line
The Oilers’ top-six is something no team can match up against. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl lead each line, so there is a top-three player in the world on the ice for nearly 2/3 of the game. McDavid led the league in goals (64) and points (153) last season and is projected to do even more damage as he continues to get better. He will not only have a major impact on the power play and the top unit, but he greatly boosts his linemates.
He might start the season with Evander Kane and Connor Brown on his wings, but that is subject to change. The top-six is very good like that. If something isn’t working for half a game, the Oilers will see a change and likely get some production out of it. Kane is looking for the kind of season he had in 2021-22 with the Oilers, nearly reaching a point-per-game in the regular season and playoffs combined. This was when he was healthy as well. Even though his power-play time is very limited because of the effectiveness of the top unit, he is able to finish plays very well with either McDavid or Draisaitl. Kane has also healed up and is ready to go this season. His physical play and shot volume make him a valuable fantasy player.
Brown won’t be a fantasy hockey star, but I expect his production will be strong considering the talent he will be playing alongside. His best seasons came in Ottawa with low-level talent. This season he gets to slot in beside the best player in the world. These two have chemistry from junior they can rekindle as well. He will be a strong later-round pick this season.
Draisaitl Led Second Line
I mentioned Draisaitl as a top-three player in the league and I stand by that. His point totals and goal-scoring ability make a great case for him. Fantasy-wise, he should always be a top-three pick no matter what. He benefits from the power play, shoots, and constantly finishes second in the league in points.
He too will have better full-time linemates as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zach Hyman are expected to play alongside him. Both of these two are coming off of career years. It shouldn’t be expected they each finish above a point-per-game again, but it is also entirely possible they do. Either way, both veterans get the top unit power-play boost and won’t be taken off. I would bank on some very good fantasy value from both of them this season again, but they might be valued very high in some leagues. Don’t reach for them.
Outside of the top six, I would only keep an eye on Dylan Holloway, Ryan McLeod, and possibly Warren Foegele as streamer options at times. The first two could see breakouts, but I wouldn’t use a draft pick on them unless it’s a deep league.
More fantasy value is going to be coming from the Oilers’ defense this season. For a team that is so strong offensively, their defensemen have been somewhat limited for fantasy value.
Evan Bouchard is a no-brainer this season. He finished the last 20 regular season games and 12 playoff games on the top power-play unit. In the playoffs alone, he had four goals and 15 points on the power play. He has definitely settled into that role with no worries. He’s going to also be tried on the top pairing this season with Darnell Nurse to eat more minutes. More ice time means the possibility for more stats.
Speaking of Nurse, he is also a strong fantasy option. He is one of those rare defenders who hits every category no matter the league you’re in. He can score and typically starts overtime with the Oilers’ big guns. Nurse will lead the team in ice time and play in all situations as well. He will likely produce over 40 points again this season, play physically, and block shots. If you don’t need any more power-play points, he is the perfect defenseman to roster.
The third and sneaky pick this year from the Oilers’ defense is Mattias Ekholm. After scoring five goals and 18 points in 57 games with the Nashville Predators, he finished in Edmonton with four goals and 14 points in 21 games. Although that is a 55-point pace, I expect that to drop a bit. Ekholm is a force on the ice and will get defensive numbers for you as well. He is going to keep benefiting from playing on an offensive team like the Oilers.
The Oilers goaltending last season definitely threw many off. For those who drafted and stuck with Jack Campbell, it was unfortunate. He did get wins, but did not have good numbers at all and became the backup. The Oilers are expecting a better season from him and for Stuart Skinner to only split the starts, not take full control of the net.
While I would be wary of Campbell, he is still on the Oilers who will outscore their opponents at the very least. The team also has Ekholm from the start of the season, and that greatly improves the play in front of him. Skinner is the slightly better bet to draft first, but the Oilers saw what fatigue did to him in the playoffs. He won’t have as much pressure this season and has worked hard to play even better this season. Both goalies are worth a look in fantasy.
The top of the Oilers’ lineup definitely carries the load for the team, especially offensively. They are the ones to target if you can because the scoring isn’t drying up anytime soon. Next up in the 2023 Fantasy Hockey Team Preview is the Los Angeles Kings.
Make sure to check out all of our Fantasy Hockey Team Previews as they roll out over the coming weeks!
Looking for more great fantasy hockey analysis? Check out our 2023 Fantasy Hockey Draft Kit for team previews, rankings, and all the sleepers you can shake a stick at.