Oilers Fantasy Hockey Preview With Dobber Hockey

Need a few PIMs in your pool? Here's your guy!

One of the most repeated requests we get here at The Copper & Blue is a more in-depth look at fantasy hockey projections and reports.  Apparently, a number of our readers devote significant time to their pools and want more information!  Throughout the next month or so, we'll bring you fantasy reports, projections, interviews, updates and links - everything to satisfy all of your hockey pool needs.

One of the best and brightest resources for fantasy hockey is Dobber Hockey, a compendium of stats, drafts, projections, articles, and discussions a pool player can utilize.  Dobber has published their first look at prospects, a complete guide to all non-NHL players and what they might do in the NHL this season - it's an essential guide for keeper leagues and pools.  They've also published their complete guide to 2011-12 fantasy hockey - a draft guide, a team-by-team analysis and a look at each of the top players in the game.  Dobber gives you all of the resources necessary to rule your pool.

After the jump, we talk to Jeff Angus, Dobber's #1 columnist and Western Conference expert about the Oilers and their prospects.

Copper & Blue:  What sort of numbers are you projecting for the Oilers' second-year quartet plus Sam Gagner?

Jeff Angus:  Dobber is projecting both Eberle and Hall for close to 30 goals and over 60 points. The guide projects both Omark and Paajarvi for less than 20 goals and around 40 points. Dobber projects over 50 points for Nugent-Hopkins.

I don’t contribute to the projections in the guide, and I haven’t finalized my own projections yet, but I’ll toss out some ballpark figures. I like Eberle for 22-25 goals and 50+ points. Paajarvi I have pegged at 20 goals and slightly more assists. Hall has a great shot at hitting the 30-goal mark. I don’t see any of the three sophomores getting more than 60-65 points (Hall has the best shot at doing so). I’ve liked Sam Gagner for quite a while now – he isn’t big or fast, but he’s skilled and very smart. Players who possess both offensive talent and great hockey IQ usually find a way to become very good NHL players. Gagner has had the misfortune of playing on some awful hockey clubs, and it has obviously stalled his development. Has it changed my long-term view on him? I think a bit.

I don’t see Nugent-Hopkins making the team past a short stint, to be honest. Edmonton is in no position to rush him, and he’s not physically ready yet.

Linus Omark is a huge wildcard. He doesn’t have a spot in the top six right now, and he doesn’t have the kind of game suited to a prototypical bottom six role. However, many teams are going with three offensive lines lately, and the Oilers have the right kind of players (and a solid veteran center in Eric Belanger) to give it a try. Omark isn’t as high up on my rankings as the other three, and I’d like to see him prove himself a bit more before giving a solid analysis on his upside.

C&B:  Where do you rank Taylor Hall overall?  For left wings?

Jeff Angus:  In one-year leagues, Hall would probably be somewhere around 20-30 in terms of left wingers (for standard fantasy leagues). In keeper leagues, I ranked him as the sixth best left winger to own back in April.

C&B:  For those people in keeper pools, it's unlikely that Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Magnus Paajarvi are available; who are some Oilers available in keeper pools that are worth taking and when?

Jeff Angus:  I like Anton Lander’s game, a lot. He’s going to settle in very nicely somewhere in the top six down the road, but for this season he’ll see limited minutes in a depth role (as most young players should). Jeff Petry is a very poised defenseman but it remains to be seen if he’ll be much of an offensive producer. There have been many great skating defensemen who settle into more of a two-way role at the NHL level, and he may be one of them.
Curtis Hamilton probably won’t have a ton of fantasy value throughout his career, but he’s going to be a terrific heart-and-soul winger who can bring a lot of positives to the table. The exact player needed to compliment the likes of Hall, Paajarvi, Eberle, and Nugent-Hopkins.

C&B:  Your rookie projections for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are somewhat optimistic in my eyes.  Firstly, are you 100% convinced that he's going to be an Oiler for the entire season?  Given your projections, who are some past rookies he can be compared to?

Jeff Angus:  Dobber is, but I’m not. The disagreements between us are pretty common, and we like to provide opposing views to our readers and members. No one’s word in fantasy hockey should be treated as gospel, but we want to provide as much help and advice as possible.

C&B:  If Ales Hemsky stays healthy for 80 games, how valuable of a fantasy right wing is he?

Jeff Angus:  Hemsky is one of the toughest skill players in the league. Fans around the league assume because he gets injured so much that he is soft or unwilling to play through injury, but his reckless style leads to him being on the receiving end of a lot of big hits (I’m sure he loved the Robyn Regehr trade). Unless he changes this style up, I don’t see him playing a full season. If he somehow manages to stay healthy while playing the kind of game that makes him effective, he could be a 25-30-goal, 75+ point player. His offensive upside is obviously higher if his linemates are doing better. Smyth and Horcoff are both complementary talents at best.

C&B:  Are there any Oilers' defensemen worth drafting after Ryan Whitney?

Jeff Angus:  If your league counts penalty minutes and/or hits, Theo Peckham has a lot of value. If your league counts turnovers and boneheaded passes, both Cam Barker and Tom Gilbert would be two of the better defensemen to own. In keeper leagues, Martin Marincin is climbing up my list. I love offensive defensemen that play with a physical edge.

C&B:  I recently wrote an article about the possibility of the first party crasher into the NHL's old boys' club.  Do you think this is something that could happen?

Jeff Angus:  Yes. I look to the smart hire Calgary made with Chris Snow (the new Director of Video and Statistical Analysis). He’s only 29, and he just spent a few years in Minnesota as the Director of Hockey Ops. Before that, Snow was a beat writer in Boston covering the Red Sox. He’s a guy to watch in the future. Mike Gillis, although a former player, has been incredibly successful applying principles that were successful in his agency business to the world of a general manager. There will always be a need for the former players because there is only so much you can glean from statistics and watching games from afar, but oftentimes these guys are better off in a complementary management role. As someone who never played hockey at a very competitive level, I feel I have a sound read on the game and I’d love to see more ‘outsiders’ break in to the game.

C&B:  Do you think fantasy hockey could or would have an influence on that hypothetical crasher?

Jeff Angus:  I think so. Again, it would have to be someone with experience and insights in business, psychology, statistics, and leadership, but there are many skills possessed by successful poolies that would transfer over to real management.

C&B:  What advice do you have for a first-time fantasy hockey owner?

Jeff Angus:  Draft a good goalie early. Focus on the important offensive statistics like goals and assists – it is much easier to add players later in the draft that help you out in categories like plus-minus and penalty minutes than it is to get goal scorers or play-makers.

C&B:  What is your one big insider tip for a newbie?

Jeff Angus:  Don’t always assume young players will improve. This is a mistake we all make.

C&B:  As a hockey writer interested in the statistical side of the game, I often get the question "Do you even enjoy watching hockey, you big geek?"  Do people express a similar sentiment to you because of all of the work you do with fantasy hockey?

Jeff Angus:  Yes, I also get that a lot. I love watching hockey, and I think fantasy hockey allows me to enjoy more games and more players. If I have some players in a Minnesota vs. Columbus game on TV, I’ll probably be more likely to tune in. Fantasy hockey and real hockey value players very differently at times as well, and finding the difference between the two can help you win pools a lot (Alex Semin is regarded as soft, lazy, and a floater, but in fantasy hockey he’s one of the best wingers you can own).

C&B:  Who do you root for?  Who is your favorite current player?  Who is your favorite player of all time?

Jeff Angus:  Being born and raised in Vancouver, I’m a Canucks fan through and through. I try hard not to let this affect my judgement or analysis. My favourite current player is Claude Giroux. He’s teetering on the edge of superstardom. Marty St. Louis is a close second – how can you not love the guy? Favourite player of all-time would have to be Peter Forsberg. I never saw and have yet to see a skilled player play with such an intimidating physical edge every single game.

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