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

by Matt Cubeta / NHL.com

Each season, NHL.com fantasy insider Matt Cubeta makes his bold fantasy hockey predictions. They are wild, outrageous and possibly even ridiculous, but that's the point. He's not here to tell you Sidney Crosby could lead the NHL in points or Alex Ovechkin could lead the League in goals. This story is here to deliver the unexpected.

Of course these predictions might not actually end up coming to fruition, but Cubeta believes there is a chance they could, even if that chance is slim. The point of this story is so you the fantasy player can discover which players Cubeta might be high on going into the season, and those he thinks you should avoid come draft day.

You'll disagree with plenty of them (maybe even all of them), but in years past, Cubeta has nailed some. Of course he'll get more wrong than right, but again, these are supposed to be over-the-top predictions to emphasize how strongly he feels about specific players.

Eastern Conference Western Conference
ATLANTIC DIVISION CENTRAL DIVISION
PIT Torey Krug is a top-10 fantasy defenseman. David Pastrnak leads the Bruins in goals with at least 30 and finishes the season as a top-75 overall fantasy player in Yahoo leagues. PIT Marko Dano scores more than 30 goals and 55 points and is a top-50 fantasy player. Duncan Keith, being drafted on average with the 47th pick, falls outside the top-100 overall player ranks in Yahoo.
PIT Rookie Jack Eichel, being drafted on average with the 124th pick, will be a top-75 overall fantasy player. He'll put up at least 25 goals and 50 points. Evander Kane is a top-30 fantasy player, with 35-plus goals, 60-plus points and 75-plus penalty minutes (PIMs). PIT Gabriel Landeskog is a top-20 overall fantasy player with 30 goals, 65 points and excellent peripheral stats. Carl Soderberg is a top-100 player and Semyon Varlamov is a top-10 goalie.
PIT Not Pavel Datsyuk, not Henrik Zetterberg, but Gustav Nyquist will be Detroit's most valuable fantasy player by the end of the season. Petr Mrazek starts 50-plus games and Jimmy Howard becomes the clear-cut No. 2 goalie by midseason. PIT Tyler Seguin leads the NHL in goals with 54. He and Jamie Benn are each ranked among the top-six players in fantasy hockey. Valeri Nichushkin scores 30-plus goals and John Klingberg is a top-10 fantasy defenseman.
PIT Jonathan Huberdeau goes off for 27 goals and 40 assists. Jaromir Jagr plays all 82 games and posts 58 points. Aleksander Barkov scores 20 goals and 50 points. I like this line. PIT Devan Dubnyk is not a top-15 fantasy goalie. Jason Pominville leads the team in scoring with 67 points while Zach Parise finishes among the top five in the NHL in shots on goal.
PIT Carey Price isn't quite as good as he was last season (No. 2 overall in Yahoo). Instead, he finishes as the third-best fantasy goalie. Max Pacioretty is one of seven players to score 40-plus goals. Alexander Semin is fantasy relevant again with 23 goals and 48 points. PIT Roman Josi will have more fantasy value than Shea Weber. Filip Forsberg scores 30 goals while Ryan Ellis has 15 goals from the blue line.
PIT Craig Anderson starts at least 50 games and is a top-15 fantasy goalie. On the other side, Andrew Hammond becomes droppable and finishes with a GAA of 2.75-plus and a save percentage lower than .910. PIT Vladimir Tarasenko scores 45 goals, Kevin Shattenkirk posts at least 60 points and Jake Allen is a top-10 fantasy goalie while starting more games than Brian Elliott.
PIT Victor Hedman is a top-five fantasy defenseman. Nikita Kucherov scores 35 goals. Oh, and Steven Stamkos scores 50 for the first time since 2011-12 and third time in his career. PIT While many might expect regression, Blake Wheeler is once again a top-20 fantasy player and finishes with 68 points. Jacob Trouba breaks out and is a top-25 fantasy defenseman.
PIT Nazem Kadri has the most fantasy value on this team. Morgan Rielly scores 14 goals and 34 assists. Dion Phaneuf bounces back and is a top-40 fantasy defenseman with over 35 points and 100 PIMs.
METROPOLITAN DIVISION PACIFIC DIVISION
PIT Much like Oliver Ekman-Larsson did last year on a struggling team, Justin Faulk leads all defensemen with 24 goals. Jeff Skinner finds his touch again and scores over 30. Eddie Lack has more fantasy value than Cam Ward, who gets moved at the NHL Trade Deadline. PIT Corey Perry is the seventh and last member of the 40-goal club (Seguin, Ovechkin, Stamkos, Kessel, Tarasenko and Pacioretty). Jakob Silfverberg puts up at least 55 points. Cam Fowler posts more points than Sami Vatanen.
PIT Brandon Dubinsky is a top-75 fantasy player with 24 goals, 65 points, a plus-12 and 82 PIMs. Sergei Bobrovsky is a top-five fantasy goalie. Nick Foligno finishes with fewer than 25 goals and 50 points. PIT Max Domi and Anthony Duclair each make the opening-night roster and stick all season long. Domi leads the Coyotes with 54 points while Duclair leads them with 24 goals.
PIT Mike Cammalleri scores 30-plus goals while Kyle Palmieri leads the team in scoring with 57 points. Adam Larsson is a top-50 fantasy defenseman with nine goals and 37 points. PIT Jiri Hudler fails to exceed 60 points after having 76 last season. On the other hand, Johnny Gaudreau scores 70-plus points. Dougie Hamilton has more value than Mark Giordano.
PIT Anders Lee scores 30 goals and Ryan Strome finishes with 60-plus points while skating on a line with John Tavares for most of the season. Marek Zidlicky is the most valuable defenseman on the Islanders, while Johnny Boychuk ranks behind Leddy and Hamonic as well. PIT Taylor Hall is a top-15 fantasy player with 34 goals, 48 assists, a plus-1, 42 PIMs, 27 power-play points (PPP) and 264 shots on goal (SOG). Connor McDavid lives up to expectations with 30 goals and 41 assists. Cam Talbot is a top-15 fantasy goalie.
PIT Henrik Lundqvist is the No. 1 fantasy goalie. Derek Stepan leads the team in scoring with 70-plus points. Chris Kreider scores over 30 goals and Kevin Hayes has 60 points. PIT Marian Gaborik scores 32 goals. Anze Kopitar has at least 75 points. Milan Lucic is a top-50 fantasy player. Nick Shore emerges and scores more than 20 goals and 40 points.
PIT Michael Raffl scores over 25 goals and 50 points on the top line, while Michael Del Zotto is the team's most valuable fantasy defenseman with 13 goals and 40 points, including 14 on the power play. PIT Logan Couture has the most fantasy value of any Sharks player and scores 36 goals. Joe Thornton fails to record more than 60 points. Martin Jones posts a 2.35 goals-against average and .920 save percentage.
PIT Phil Kessel exceeds the 40-goal mark for the first time in his career. Kris Letang stays healthy and is the No. 1 fantasy defenseman. Sidney Crosby leads the NHL in points with 101 (he's the only player to eclipse 100). Chris Kunitz bounces back and is a top-50 fantasy player again. PIT Bo Horvat scores 25 goals and 50 points. Radim Vrbata regresses and fails to exceed 25 goals and 55 points.
PIT After Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie is the second most valuable fantasy player on the Capitals, ahead of Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby. John Carlson is a top 10 fantasy defenseman.

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