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It’s a sure sign that another NHL season is just around the corner; hockey pool guides have started to hit the shelves across Canada.

I’m a big-time fantasy sports junkie so finding a pool mag is just as good Christmas morning in the Nielson household. A trip to Montreal two weekends ago gave me a little bit of a head start as I tracked down both The Hockey News Ultimate Pool Guide and The Sports Forecaster. I will be giving you my own Oilers point projections in September but one of my favourite things to do is break down everyone else projections. So, here we go.

HOCKEY NEWS ULTIMATE POOL GUIDE PROJECTIONS

THE NUMBERS

@Connor McDavid 121 points
@Leon Draisaitl 100
@Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 61
@James Neal 49
@Darnell Nurse 34
@Alex Chiasson 29
@Oscar Klefbom 27
@Zack Kassian 26
@Evan Bouchard 25
@Jujhar Khaira 23
@Markus Granlund 22
@Jesse Puljujarvi 22
@Sam Gagner 20
@Joakim Nygard 19
@Matt Benning 18
@Kailer Yamamoto 18
@Adam Larsson 18
@Caleb Jones 17
@Kris Russell 15
@Kyle Brodziak 14
@Josh Archibald 14

THE BREAKDOWN

NAILED IT

Connor McDavid: 44g-77a-121pts

This is very close to where I plan on projecting the Oilers captain as well. I have spoken to a few folks who feel like Connor will hit the 50-goal plateau this season and while I certainly think he is capable of hit I think it’s more realistic to put him the 45 range.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: 25g-36a-61pts

I know most of you will immediately think the Nuge should be projected to finish with more than 61 points but in the big picture I believe it’s an accurate number. A 61-point season would only be eight points less than the 69(nice) he had last year and would still be the second-best total of his career. I’d be happy with 61 points from the newlywed and will likely end up projecting him in a similar range.

James Neal: 26g-23a-49pts

Maybe I have high expectations for Neal but I really like these numbers for the newest member of the Oilers. This is a team desperate for scoring from the wing and that is exactly what Neal has done for 90 percent of his NHL career.

Darnell Nurse: 9g-25a-34pts

This would be a step back for Nurse but with a healthy Oscar Klefbom in the lineup I think 34 points would be a pretty solid offensive campaign if he’s not getting any top unit power-play time.

Evan Bouchard: 25pts

The goals and assists breakdowns aren’t available for anyone outside the top 300 projected players and that cut off was around 33 points. I could see Bouchard putting up 25 points in a couple of different ways this season. He could stick around the entire season with spot duty on the power-play and finish with 25 or he could be called up midway through the season and be giving prime offensive minutes in the second half of the year and finish strong.

TOO HIGH

Leon Draisaitl: 48g-52a-100pts

Draisaitl had an incredible year in 2018-19 and could still have another amazing season this year and finish with “only” 90 points. The Hockey News is projecting Leon to finish third in the league with 100 points, behind only McDavid and Kucherov. The issue I have with the projection is that they are pegging him for 48 goals again this season, that’s too high. Neon Leon shot 21.6% last year to get to the 50-goal mark, doubling his 25-goal effort from the previous season, a year in which he shot 12.1 percent. His career shooting percentage is 16% so I’m going to use that as a base and do a little bit of math. If Draisaitl spends the full season playing with McDavid it’s reasonable to think he will have more than the 231 shots he fired on goal last year. Let’s say he finishes with 260 shots on goal, a total that would put him in the top 15 in the league. If Draisaitl shoots 16% on 260 attempts he’ll score 41 times this upcoming season. A 41 goal, 90-point season would still very much be a success in my mind.

TOO LOW

OSCAR KLEFBOM: 27pts

If Oscar Klefbom can play a full season, I think the organization would be very happy, if he finishes with 27-points over a full season they will be very disappointed. I guess you can project him to miss a significant amount of time again but even in 61 games last season he finished with 28 points. Klefbom will very likely begin the season on the Oilers top power-play unit and he may be able to hang on to that job the entire season.

SAM GAGNER: 20pts

Maybe I just find myself fighting in Sam Gagner’s corner again but I think 20 points is too low. He had 10 points in 25 games as an Oiler last season and the internal competition hasn’t improved by leaps and bounds. I’d expect Gagner to be a part of the second power-play unit and he’s now playing for a coach who is familiar with his skill set and how to use it.

PROBABLY RIGHT:

Alex Chiasson 29
Zack Kassian 26
Jujhar Khaira 23
Markus Granlund 22
Jesse Puljujarvi 22 (if he plays)
Joakim Nygard 19
Matt Benning 18
Kailer Yamamoto 18
Adam Larsson 18
Caleb Jones 17
Kris Russell 15
Kyle Brodziak 14

There may be one exception on the list above and that’s Zack Kassian. The feisty forward had a strong finish on the top line last season and if he can pick up where he left off, he could very well eclipse the 26-point projection, which also happens to be the exact number of points he had last year.

Previously by Dustin Nielson:


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