Like they’ve done in the past the Edmonton Oilers brass rushed a prospect to the show before he was ready. Thankfully for Oilers fans, that old guard has mostly shown the door. At the very least they don’t have day to day control over team operations anymore.
Leon Draisaitl was just the last in a line of prospects rushed before they were ready to contribute to winning hockey games. In 37 games in Edmonton last year the young German posted just nine points and clearly wasn’t quite ready to help the Oilers win.
Edmonton finally sent him back to junior where he helped the Kelowna Rockets reach the Memorial Cup Final; where he scored the most points and came away with MVP honors. With a regular season total of 53 points in 32 games, Draisaitl averaged 1.65 points per game in his draft year +1.
Draisaitl has been moved all over the lineup in the pre-season but with the injury to Jordan Eberle, there is at least some speculation out there that he could see him self slotted on the wing next to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Whether the McDavid line or the RNH line is classified as line one, matters not. Ice time and zone starts over the first two weeks of the season will uncover which line Todd McLellan wants to give the most offensive opportunities to.
Either way Draisaitl will be thrust into a top six role, which means he will see a minimum of 15 minutes of ice time per night, but probably closer to 16.5 minutes per game. The data from last season shows that Draisaitl was one of the least valuable Oiler forwards to own. He scored just 0.15 goals and 0.88 assists per 60 minutes. For daily fantasy hockey players he should open the season at near minimum price points on all sites.
Several models have been developed to estimate scoring equivalencies as players make the jump from junior, minor or foreign leagues to the NHL. Behind the Net, published the first one I know of a few years back. The Projection Project, put another one out just last year; which is either completely or mostly based on the analysis from Robb Vollman who publishes the fantastic Hockey Abstract.
The Western Hockey League co-efficient to the NHL is between 0.26 and 0.30. We stated earlier that Draisaitl scored 1.65 points per game in his return to the WHL. If we use the mid-point of those two numbers (0.28), we can project a 38 point season from Draisaitl this year; with somewhere between 35-42 being most likely.
That won’t blow the doors off of anyone, but look at the circumstances he will be in for DFS purposes. He will be in a top six role at near minimum price. With the extra five to six minutes of ice-time compared to what he had last year, the expected vTOI and price will be hard to ignore.
Ownership numbers for Connor McDavid will presumably be higher than deserved to begin the season. If he begins the season quickly and scores at more than a point per game pace, he will be rostered at a much higher rate than his suggested production should command. What that means is the “other” line with RNH and Draisaitl will see much lower rates of ownership, and an opportunity to take advantage of an inefficiency in the market will present itself.
If we project Draisaitl to score at a 38 point pace in the absence of Eberle, even if his shot and blocked shot numbers stay static, you could easily see him average 2.0 fantasy points per game. The Oilers open the season on the road in St. Louis, which isn’t an easy draw. Even in these circumstances the projected output for Draisaitl is 1.83*. That slots him as the 4th most valuable forward for the night at just $1369 per expected point.
Finding value plays, especially at or near minimum price points, is the lynchpin of a successful DFS lineup. Draisaitl’s debut in Oiler copper and blue was horrid last year, but so was the team. Indications are he’s more mature physically and ready to contribute to a winning Oilers franchise as early as this season. If he does hold down a top six role even in the teeth of a tough opening few weeks, expect him to produce at a level above his price point. This is where DFS wins are made.