Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was the first overall pick this past summer and will be in Edmonton's opening night lineup. (Photo by Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)
Prediction – Edmonton Oilers rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will get between two and 72 points this season. Now that’s one hell of a big board to throw your dart at, isn’t it? So what should you do with the unpredictable top pick?
Nugent-Hopkins could end up being the first forward selected with the top pick to not play a full NHL season immediately after being drafted since Eric Lindros. RNH will play nine games for sure, but any more than that and the Oilers lose a year of owning his rights. The thinking is he’s too frail to play against men at this time. Then again, Patrick Kane was no Hulk Hogan either.
RNH was Edmonton’s pre-season scoring leader (six points in four games). If he plays his nine regular season games and tallies, say, six points, do the Oilers send him to junior? What about seven points? Ten? Essentially, he has to force the Oilers to keep him by making it clear he belongs (which will only be done through offense, since he is not known for his crushing hits or smothering defense).
So what point benchmark does he need to get to? I think it will be seven points in nine games – he’ll stick with seven and be demoted at six. And what does that mean at your draft table?
Draft him as your No. 3 center. You’re taking quite a risk if you select him as a No. 2 center since that position is hard to replace if RNH doesn’t work out. But if he’s No. 3 and doesn’t pan out it’s a fairly painless thing to promote your No. 4 and grab another center off waivers.
In a points-only league, I have RNH in the low 50s. But, as I said at the top, he may end up with only two points. So in a points-only, one-year league treat him as a high-40s player and draft him accordingly. If he makes the Oilers, you’ll get more than you bargained for. If not, you’ll only lose that 47-point expectation. In all likelihood he won’t be around for you to pick if you treat him as such – and that may actually be the best for your team.
• Fabian Brunnstrom fever is heating up again. Remember the last time that happened? The Dallas Stars won the sweepstakes for his services and he potted a hat trick in his NHL debut. Ever since, he has been unable to stick in the league. Until now. The Red Wings were so impressed with his pre-season they signed him to a contract and put him on the team to start the season. If he’s going to succeed in anywhere, it’s in this system. I wouldn’t expect a lot of points early on, but this guy is waiting to pounce the instant a player such as Val Filppula or Johan Franzen gets hurt, two guys who go down a lot.
• Ray Emery beat out Alexander Salak and will be Corey Crawford’s backup this season. I both like and dislike this signing. I like it because Emery is a strong goaltender who will push Crawford and cover him off if he stumbles. I dislike it because Emery is a strong goaltender who will push Crawford and cover him off if he stumbles. Confused? I’m a Crawford owner in one league and would be more comfortable if he had more room and less pressure to work through any problems he might have. With a solid veteran like Emery around, Crawford may do what Carey Price did in the company of Jaroslav Halak. I’m not saying it will happen, I’m just floating the tiny fear poolies sense. Emery is worth sticking on your bench until December. Which, incidentally, is the month where Crawford started stealing the job from Marty Turco last year.
Jake Gardiner made the Toronto Maple Leafs over Keith Aulie. One of two things will happen here. He’ll either struggle to put up points, watch his ice time go down and get sent to the American League, or produce at a decent rate and end the season somewhere in the mid-to-high 30s… Cam Atkinson has made the Columbus Blue Jackets. Everything he has touched has turned to gold, be it at the college, AHL or NHL pre-season level. Atkinson is in the top six right now and is definitely worth a flyer. As with Gardiner, you’ll know if your boom-or-bust player is a boom or a bust by the end of October.
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section. Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.