Though the Edmonton Oilers have a long way to climb after posting the league's worst record in 2009-2010, there is some optimism to be found in the team's young talent, which provides some excitement from a fantasy perspective.
While rookies Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson will have better long-term value, the Oilers are in a place that all three should see significant ice time and have opportunities to produce. Hall and Eberle, in particular, could be among the top rookie scorers in the league.
Returning from a shoulder injury that sidelined him after a point-per-game start last year, RW Ales Hemsky is the most productive Oilers player, but may still only be in the top dozen or so among right wingers.
After a breakout season in 2009-2010, left winger Dustin Penner will also have fantasy value. Whether Penner can duplicate his first 30-goal, 60-point season remains to be seen, but a healthy Hemsky would figure to give Penner even more opportunities.
In deep leagues, it could be worth trying Sam Gagner, who is heading into his fourth year, but has not been able to build on a productive rookie year.
Edmonton's defense has fantasy candidates, though their relative effectiveness will likely depend on the fate of Sheldon Souray, who has been on the trading block.
Souray has a big shot from the point and picks up penalty minutes so he has value. Of course, he's also hurt frequently and is minus-64 over the last five seasons, so there are limits to his appeal.
Ryan Whitney may be a safer option and he was productive (11 points, plus-7 in 19 games) late last season after being acquired from Anaheim.
Newcomer Kurtis Foster came back from a broken femur to have a career year in Tampa Bay last season and he owns a big shot from the blueline too, which could make him a natural replacement for Souray on the power play.
Goaltending is a dicey proposition for the Oilers. Nikolai Khabibulin was a disaster in his first year after signing a big free agent contract and now is dealing with legal troubles in Arizona after being convicted of DUI.
Jeff Deslauriers doesn't appear ready to handle the No. 1 workload and 36-year-old Martin Gerber is returning to North America after a year in the KHL, so if Khabibulin can't play the majority of the games, the Oilers could be in trouble as a team (plus-minus alert!) and the goaltenders, specifically, may be best to be avoided.
|Dustin Penner||Sam Gagner||Ales Hemsky|
|Taylor Hall||Gilbert Brule||Jordan Eberle|
|Magnus Paajarvi||Shawn Horcoff||Andrew Cogliano|
|Ryan Jones||Colin Fraser||Zack Stortini|
|Steve MacIntyre||Jean-Francois Jacques||Linus Omark|
|Sheldon Souray||Ryan Whitney|
|Tom Gilbert||Kurtis Foster|
|Ladislav Smid||Jim Vandermeer|
|Jason Strudwick||Taylor Chorney|