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Cu-bet on it: Bold fantasy hockey predictions

By Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

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Cu-bet on it: Bold fantasy hockey predictions
You already know Steven Stamkos is a threat to win the Rocket Richard Trophy, but fantasy expert Matt Cubeta is ready to go out on a limb and offer some projections you can use to make a splash in your leagues this season.

I'm back for more. For the past three seasons I've made some wild and outrageous fantasy hockey predictions, and this year will be no exception.

Sometimes I nail the predictions and sometimes I'm way off. But remember, these aren't your generic, typical, boring predictions. I'm not here to state that Steven Stamkos could win the Rocket Richard Trophy -- we all know that's a realistic possibility. I'm here to be bold and predict things that many of you will think are flat-out crazy.

These predictions might not come to fruition, but the goal is to give you a general idea for which players I'm really high on this year and which guys I think might disappoint fantasy owners.

Use these predictions how you please. You can criticize them all you want and comment away, or you could agree with a few of them and use them to your advantage in your league this season.

Either way, let's have a look at one bold fantasy prediction for each team:

Check out how I did with my bold predictions from last season

Eastern Conference Western Conference
ATLANTIC DIVISION CENTRAL DIVISION
BOS Jarome Iginla will score 35-plus goals and finish as a top-five right wing in fantasy leagues. CHI Brandon Pirri ends up providing more fantasy value than Marian Hossa this season, earning him the Calder Trophy.
BUF Thomas Vanek won't score more than 25 goals after tallying 20 in 38 games last season. COL Steve Downie has a career year, posting 23 goals, 51 points and 186 penalty minutes.
DET Daniel Alfredsson scores 30 goals for the first time since 2007-08. Stephen Weiss doesn't reach the 50-point mark. DAL Jamie Benn is a top-15 fantasy player, totaling 29 goals, 47 assists, a plus-2, 70 penalty minutes, 22 power-play points and 221 shots on goal.
FLA Jonathan Huberdeau scores 30-plus goals. Tim Thomas will start more games than Jacob Markstrom and finish as the more valuable goalie. MIN Charlie Coyle sticks as the Wild's second-line center and notches 24 goals and 46 points in his first full season.
MTL Not P.K. Subban and not Carey Price, but Max Pacioretty turns out to be the team's most valuable fantasy asset. He'll finish with 38 goals and 75 points. NSH The No. 1 fantasy defenseman will not be Erik Karlsson or P.K. Subban or Kris Letang. It will be Shea Weber.
OTT Patrick Wiercioch finishes as a top-20 fantasy d-man. Kyle Turris will post 25 goals and 60 points. STL David Backes regains his scoring touch, putting home 30-plus goals again. Alexander Steen will be the second most valuable fantasy player in St. Louis after Backes.
TBL Victor Hedman continues to develop his offensive game, posting nine goals, 41 points and 68 penalty minutes. WPG Evander Kane will be a top-20 overall fantasy player. Ondrej Pavelec will be a top-15 goalie. Mark Scheifele will be a Calder Trophy candidate.
TOR Nazem Kadri takes a step back, scoring fewer goals than he had in the shortened season last year (18). James Reimer outperforms Jonathan Bernier.
METROPOLITAN DIVISION PACIFIC DIVISION
CAR I was high on Justin Faulk last year and he didn't live up to my expectations. I'm sticking with him, though. He finishes as a top-15 fantasy defenseman. ANA Jonas Hiller will re-emerge as the clear-cut No. 1 goalie in Anaheim and finish as a top-10 fantasy goalie.
CBJ Brandon Dubinsky finishes as a top-50 overall fantasy player, finishing with 24 goals, 56 points, a plus-5 and 104 penalty minutes. CGY Karri Ramo starts over 60 games and finishes with a goals-against average below 2.50.
NJD Travis Zajac fails to live up to expectations, recording fewer than 50 points. Cory Schneider starts 50-plus games and finishes with a 2.27 GAA and .930 save percentage. EDM Nail Yakupov tallies 38 goals, finishing as the team's most valuable fantasy player. Devan Dubnyk is second, ahead of Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle.
NYI Travis Hamonic out-produces Lubomir Visnovsky and records 10 goals, 31 assists and 84 penalty minutes. LAK Anze Kopitar leads the NHL in power-play points. Drew Doughty finishes as a top-five fantasy defenseman.
NYR Rick Nash leads the NHL in shots and scores a career-high 44 goals, finishing as a top-10 overall fantasy player. Derick Brassard will be more valuable than Brad Richards. PHX Oliver Ekman-Larsson will be more valuable than Keith Yandle. Mikkel Boedker will lead the team with 26 goals.
PHI Jakub Voracek regresses and totals less than 25 goals and 55 points. Ray Emery ends up starting 50-plus games with a 2.48 GAA and .917 save percentage. SJS Dan Boyle bounces back in a big way, finishing as a top-10 defenseman. Joe Pavelski finishes outside the top-100 overall fantasy players.
PIT Evgeni Malkin doesn't finish as a top-25 fantasy player. On the bright side, Sidney Crosby plays more than 75 games this year and finishes as the No. 1 fantasy player, as expected. VAN Ryan Kesler will be the most valuable fantasy player in Vancouver, then Roberto Luongo. David Booth stays healthy and finishes with 27 goals.
WSH Mike Green finishes the year as a top-five fantasy defenseman. Troy Brouwer won't eclipse 20 goals or 40 points.

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NHL.COM FANTASY HOCKEY COVERAGE
Watch: Cubeta's fantasy draft strategy
Top 275 rankings | Top 50 breakdown
Summer moves affect value of teammates
Specialists: Who helps in each category
Eriksson, Rinne lead injury bounce-backs
Staal, Nash lead bounce-back candidates
Positional rankings: C | LW | RW | D | G

TOP 275 OVERALL FANTASY RANKS

RANK TEAM PLAYER
1. Sidney crosby
2. Steven Stamkos
3. Corey Perry
4. Evgeni Malkin
5. Ryan Getzlaf

COMPLETE RANKINGS BY CUBETA, JENSEN & SITKOFF