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Cu-bet on it: Team-by-team bold fantasy predictions

by Matt Cubeta / NHL.com

This is usually my favorite fantasy hockey story to write each preseason. This is my chance to go a little off the wall with some outrageous predictions.

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I'm not here to tell you Tyler Seguin might lead the NHL in points. That's obviously a possibility considering he was fourth in the NHL last season. I'm here to say Logan Couture will lead the NHL in goals.

I know, I know, that's crazy. But that's the point of this story. These predictions might not actually happen, but I believe there is a chance they could, even if that chance is ever so slim. The point of writing this, and for you reading it, is so you can discover which players I might be high on, and those I think you should avoid having on your team.

I'm sure you'll all disagree with most of them, but have a look at my bold predictions from last season and you'll see I nailed a few. Of course I got more wrong than right, but again, these are supposed to be over-the-top predictions to emphasize how strongly I feel about that specific player.

Let's go ...

Eastern Conference Western Conference
ATLANTIC DIVISION CENTRAL DIVISION
PIT Dougie Hamilton finishes as a top-20 fantasy defenseman, while Loui Eriksson ends up ranking outside the top 150 players by season's end. PIT Jonathan Toews posts more points than Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad finishes with more fantasy value than Marian Hossa.
PIT Chris Stewart is a top-100 fantasy player, scoring 25-plus goals, 50-plus points and over 100 penalty minutes. PIT Tyson Barrie is a top-10 fantasy defenseman and Matt Duchene finishes with the most fantasy value among Avalanche players, recording 35 goals and 75 points.
PIT Gustav Nyquist, who had 28 goals in 57 games last season, won't reach 25 goals this season. Henrik Zetterberg stays healthy and is a top-20 player. PIT Last season I said Jamie Benn would be a top-15 fantasy player. This season I'm saying he finishes as the No. 1 fantasy player, scoring 41 goals, 86 points, plus-16, 70 penalty minutes (PIMs), 24 power-play points (PPP), and 287 shots on goal (SOG).
PIT Roberto Luongo is a top-10 fantasy goalie, Jonathan Huberdeau scores 30 goals and Aleksander Barkov reaches 50 points. PIT Charlie Coyle finishes with more goals and points than popular sleeper pick Mikael Granlund. Jared Spurgeon records 40 points on defense.
PIT PA Parenteau posts 50-plus points and 50-plus penalty minutes and Alex Galchenyuk goes off for 30-plus goals. PIT Mike Ribeiro bounces back and records 60 points, Pekka Rinne is a top-10 goalie and James Neal, expected to regress, puts up 30 goals, 60 points, 60 PIMs and 300 SOG.
PIT Bobby Ryan bounces back and scores a career-high 37 goals, and is a top-25 fantasy player. Robin Lehner provides more value than Craig Anderson. PIT T.J. Oshie has a career-year with 25 goals and 70 points. Brian Elliott is a top-15 goalie and Kevin Shattenkirk out-produces Alex Pietrangelo.
PIT Ben Bishop is the No. 1 fantasy goalie this season. Ondrej Palat is droppable by the All-Star break, but Jonathan Drouin earns the Calder Trophy despite his preseason injury. PIT Mark Scheifele scores more than 60 points, Evander Kane scores more than 30 goals and Jacob Trouba has more fantasy value than Dustin Byfuglien this season.
PIT Dion Phaneuf tallies over 45 points and 100 penalty minutes and is a top-10 fantasy defenseman. Joffrey Lupul stays healthy and is a top-50 player.
METROPOLITAN DIVISION PACIFIC DIVISION
PIT Jeff Skinner is one of six NHL players to exceed the 40-goal mark this season (the most since 2009-10). Anton Khudobin makes 55-plus starts and is a top-20 goalie. PIT Frederik Andersen ends up as the higher-ranked goalie ahead of John Gibson. Devante Smith-Pelly scores 20 goals and 50 points with 50 PIMs.
PIT Brandon Dubinsky is the most valuable Blue Jackets fantasy player and Ryan Murray ends up with the most fantasy value among their defensemen. PIT Max Domi cracks the lineup and scores 20 goals, and Sam Gagner leads the team with 55 points, finishing as a top-100 fantasy player.
PIT Mike Cammalleri scores 35 goals and 60 points, and Cory Schneider is a top-10 goalie, finishing in the top five in goals-against average. PIT After being a top-10 fantasy defenseman last season, Mark Giordano falls outside the top 20. Johnny Gaudreau makes the team and scores 20 goals.
PIT Brock Nelson records 25 goals and 50 points, but John Tavares doesn't finish among the top-25 fantasy players. PIT Taylor Hall finishes third in the NHL in points and is a top-10 fantasy player. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins records 65-plus points.
PIT Ryan McDonagh continues to evolve and finishes as a top-five fantasy defenseman. Chris Kreider scores 30 goals and is a top-50 player. PIT Drew Doughty is the No. 1 fantasy defenseman with 17 goals, 58 points and 70 PIMs. Jeff Carter puts home 35-plus goals.
PIT After Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn ends up with the most fantasy value among Flyers, scoring 25 goals and 55 points with 75 penalty minutes. PIT As promised ... Logan Couture leads the NHL in goals (he joins Skinner, Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, Corey Perry and Jamie Benn as the six 40-plus goal scorers). Joe Pavelski isn't a top-30 fantasy player.
PIT Christian Ehrhoff has more fantasy value than Kris Letang. Marc-Andre Fleury finishes outside the top-15 fantasy goalies. PIT Alexander Edler bounces back and is a top-20 fantasy defenseman. Radim Vrbata scores 30-plus goals and 60 points.
PIT Nicklas Backstrom leads the NHL in assists and posts 90-plus points. Braden Holtby is a top-15 fantasy goalie.

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