The 2022-23 NHL season begins on Friday, with the San Jose Sharks playing the Nashville Predators in the Czech Republic. Most other teams won’t begin their season until the middle of next week, but let’s get started with some early-season hot takes and nhl predictions to pair with our top 3 breakout players for your fantasy draft.

Wild NHL Prediction #1: Auston Matthews Scores 70

The 70-goal mark is something that hasn’t really been considered in the last 20 or 30 years. Alex Ovechkin scored 65 in 2007-08 but hasn’t surpassed 56 since. Steven Stamkos also scored 60, and Auston Matthews became the third player in the 2000s to hit the mark in 2021-22. 

Matthews, however, needed only 73 games to score 60 goals. This is one season after he scored 41 in 52 games. He’s the best goal scorer in the league, and it isn’t up for debate. But can he score 70? Nobody has done it since Teemu Selanne and Alex Mogilny in the 1992-93 season.

Extrapolated to 82 games, Matthews would have scored 67 goals last season. He played about 20 minutes per game and could see more ice time this season, given the Maple Leafs’ reliance on their star players – Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and John Tavares.

Wild NHL Prediction #2: Cale Makar Hits 100 Points

Cale Makar is effortlessly talented. He’s by far the most dynamic defenseman in the league and now has the hardware to prove he’s the best blueliner – Makar won the Norris Trophy last season in a close vote over Roman Josi.

Makar produced a career-high 86 points in 77 games this past season and added 29 in 20 playoff games. He’ll get every opportunity to hit that mark again and should exceed it this season if he stays healthy. 

Brian Leetch is the last defenseman to record 100 points, having done so during the 1991-92 season. Makar is going to end the 31-year drought this season.

Wild NHL Prediction #3: Johnny Gaudreau Flops in Columbus

The hockey world was shocked when Johnny Gaudreau finally made his choice and signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The speedy and shifty winger had been reportedly considering the New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, New York Islanders, and even the Flames before he ultimately signed with the Blue Jackets.

The addition of Gaudreau obviously improves the Blue Jackets roster, but he doesn’t necessarily put them over the top, especially in the competitive Eastern Conference. Gaudreau and Patrik Laine will be a fun duo to watch, but the former is coming off of a career season in a contract year, and the latter is inconsistent. 

Gaudreau had 115 points in 82 games last season. He recorded 49 points in 56 games in 2020-21 and 58 points in 70 games in 2019-20. History suggests he’s not going to reach 100 points again this season, and he won’t have the same quality of linemates (Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk). Expect somewhere around 70 points for Gaudreau, which would be a disappointment considering the seven-year, $68.25 million contract he signed in the offseason.