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Cu-bet on it: 50 fantasy hockey predictions

by Matt Cubeta
Predicting what might happen never is an easy task. Predicting completely extreme and surprising things to happen is even harder. But this is our shot at that -- a story full of strange, kind of outlandish and audacious fantasy hockey predictions.

Some of these predictions are based on statistics, or changes of scenery, or different line combinations, but most of them are based purely on instinct or a hunch. It's more than likely that you'll think these predictions are unrealistic and doubtful to happen, but that's the point.

We don't want to give you the standard, boring, "you know what you're going to get" information -- we're trying to show you some things that might be unlikely to happen, but we believe they actually are a possibility. Is Alex Ovechkin going to score 30 goals? Of course he is -- he's done it in every season of his career (although last season he definitely gave us a little bit of a scare with just 32). We're here to tell you we think Matt Duchene could score 40.

Take these predictions how you want -- they're here to help you understand that these are players we either really like or don't like too much. When we say Matt Duchene will score 40 goals, we do think it's possible, but even if he doesn't, the point is for you to know that we think Duchene is going to have a very good season.

Without further ado, here are the predictions (in no particular order)...

1. Might as well start with the one we hinted at: Matt Duchene scores 40-plus goals this season.

2. Bobby Ryan also scores 40 -- not too much of a jump from his 34 last season, but in general we really, really like Ryan this season -- he's the complete package.

3. Jimmy Howard bounces back and finishes among the top five fantasy goalies this season.

4. Thomas Vanek doesn't score more than 25 goals -- too much depth on that Sabres offense.

5. Martin Havlat records more goals and points than Dany Heatley -- sorry Wild fans.

6. Pavel Datsyuk posts the first 100-point season of his career.

7. Evgeni Malkin also hits the century mark.

8. Sidney Crosby doesn't (partly because he'll likely miss some time this season, and partly because when he does come back, he might struggle a bit).

9. Neither Sedin reaches 100 points.

10. Alexandre Burrows finishes as a top-25 overall fantasy player.

11. After being stuck on third-line duties quite a bit last season, Joe Pavelski skates on the second line all season this year and scores 30 goals and notches 75 points.

12. Pekka Rinne is very good. He will be the No. 1 fantasy goalie this season.

13. Henrik Lundqvist will be a close second.

14. Shea Weber leads all defensemen in goals and finishes as the top fantasy defenseman.

15. P.K. Subban finishes as the No. 2 blueliner.

16. Last year's top defenseman, Dustin Byfuglien, finishes outside the top 10.

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17. Sticking with defensemen, Sheldon Souray scores 20 goals and gets close to 100 penalty minutes in a remarkable return to the NHL.

18. After scoring just 22 goals last season, Marian Gaborik teams with Brad Richards and reaches the 40-goal plateau again.

19. Brad Richards finishes in the top three in the NHL in assists.

20. Lubomir Visnovsky backs up last season with another 60-plus-point campaign -- Anaheim's power play arguably is the most talented in the League, and Visnovsky is the quarterback of it.

21. The Dallas Stars were one of only four NHL teams to have at least three players with more than 70 points (Anaheim, Chicago and Vancouver being the others) -- Brad Richards, Loui Eriksson and Mike Ribeiro accomplished the feat. This season, Jamie Benn is the only player to reach that mark for Dallas -- he's got point-per-game potential written all over him.

22. After posting just 29 and 24 points in his first two seasons with the Flames, Jay Bouwmeester ends this season with at least 40 points.

23. Michael Grabner fails to score more than 25 goals this season.

24. Kyle Okposo is a close second to John Tavares for leading the Islanders in points.

25. Chris Pronger continues to decline and appears in fewer than 40 games for the Flyers.

26. Jaromir Jagr scores more than 25 goals and finishes with a plus/minus greater than plus-20.

27. Evander Kane will lead the Jets in points this season -- let's say he notches around 60.

28. Tomas Fleischmann scores 25 goals and leads the Panthers in power-play points.

29. After combining for 80 goals last season, the Maple Leafs' top trio of Nikolai Kulemin, Mikhail Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur fail to score more than 65 this season.

30. Same prediction as last season: Ryan Getzlaf stays healthy and leads the NHL in points -- it has to come through eventually.

31. Ilya Bryzgalov struggles in his first season with the Flyers -- his GAA exceeds 2.60 and his save percentage slips to under .910.

Dave Bolland
Center - CHI
GOALS: 15 | ASST: 22 | PTS: 37
SOG: 102 | +/-: 11
32. Brandon Dubinsky eventually lands on the Rangers' top line with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik and goes on to score 30-plus goals and 65-plus points.

33. Most people continue to think Dave Bolland will break out this season. We don't -- expect nothing more than 50 points if he can stay healthy.

34. Tyler Seguin starts a little slow, but still ends the season with more than 25 goals and 50 points -- he's going to be a superstar eventually.

35. Despite starting the season in the AHL, Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis will get called up and be extremely helpful for any fantasy owner. He still goes on to score more than 10 goals and 30 points from the blue line.

36. Jarome Iginla is Jarome Iginla, and we really do love everything about him. But he will not score more than 40 goals again this season -- expect closer to 35, and 75 points this season.

37. Zac Dalpe reaches 40 points in his rookie season. We're setting the bar low -- he could end up with more than 60 if he plays on a line with Eric Staal.

38. After a big breakthrough last season, Carey Price regresses and his GAA rises above 2.60.

39. Check out Vinny Prospal's point production since the 2001-02 season:
2001-02: 55 points in 81 games
2002-03: 79 points in 80 games
2003-04: 54 points in 82 games
2005-06: 80 points in 81 games
2006-07: 55 points in 82 games
2007-08: 71 points in 80 games
2008-09: 45 points in 82 games
2009-10: 58 points in 75 games
2010-11: 23 points in 29 games

After each sluggish season, Prospal bounces back the following one, and in a big way. He should be in line for another solid campaign in his first season in Columbus.

40. Drew Doughty scores 20 goals after slipping to just 11 last season.

41. Zach Parise scores 40 goals and finishes as a top-10 fantasy player.

42. The Senators improve -- so much so that Erik Karlsson and Sergei Gonchar both prove to be top-25 fantasy defensemen.

43. Craig Anderson carries over his hot streak with Ottawa from last season and finishes with a GAA of 2.35 and save percentage of .920.

44. Danny Briere does not do what he did last season -- expect closer to 25 goals and more like 60 points
Lauri Korpikoski
Left Wing - PHX
GOALS: 19 | ASST: 21 | PTS: 40
SOG: 103 | +/-: 17
after having 34 and 68 last season. Those penalty minutes also will decrease (87 last season) -- how many minor penalties can he take?

45. Lauri Korpikoski leads the Coyotes in points this season with 62 -- he could be a tremendous sleeper pick.

46. Keith Yandle will be a close second in points for Phoenix.

47. Jonathan Bernier steals a lot of playing time from Jonathan Quick this season -- this time next season we'll be looking at Bernier as the team's No. 1 goalie.

48. Chris Mason does the same to Ondrej Pavelec in Winnipeg.

49. Washington's offense comes back this season. That means Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin and Mike Green all put up big numbers -- again. We also think John Carlson takes a big step in the right direction for fantasy production. Draft Carlson as a No. 3 defenseman on your team and you'll be more than satisfied with his year-end results.

50. Final prediction: Patrick Kane scores more than 40 goals and tops 100 points. We believe this is his year of years.

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