How injuries could impact Stanley Cup odds
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With the NHL playoffs unlikely to begin before June, the landscape of the league could change significantly as injured players return.

Here are the teams that the suspended season could benefit the most, each of which might be worth buying now before odds shorten following the boost to their lineups.

Carolina Hurricanes (35-1)

Injuries on the blue line forced Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell to be aggressive prior to the trade deadline, acquiring Brady Skjei and Sami Vatanen to shore up the back end. The latter has been sidelined since the start of February due to a lower-body injury and hasn't made his Canes debut, but the layoff gives him lots of time to get healthy.

Potentially getting back defensemen Dougie Hamilton and Brett Pesce is more significant for Carolina. Both were expected to miss the remainder of the season with leg and shoulder injuries, respectively, but it's possible they'll return at full health should the playoffs not commence until June. That would give the Canes arguably the NHL's best top-six defensive options with Hamilton, Pesce, Vatanen, Skjei, Jaccob Slavin, Jake Gardiner, and Haydn Fleury.

Colorado Avalanche (7-1)

Long-term injuries weren't necessarily a concern for the Avalanche, but the team hasn't been healthy all season. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen were out before the season was suspended, and both can now fully recover. The same luxury will be afforded to Nazem Kadri and Matt Calvert, who were each week-to-week.

The biggest upgrade though will come in goal, where Colorado had been without Philipp Grubauer since Feb. 15. The team remained hopeful he would be back before the end of the regular season, and the suspension removes any doubt.

Columbus Blue Jackets (100-1)

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The Blue Jackets would be a dangerous low seed if they're included in the playoffs when the season returns.

They were a shoo-in for the postseason to begin February before ankle injuries sidelined both Seth Jones and Oliver Bjorkstrand for 8-10 weeks. Jones leads this team on and off the ice, while Bjorkstrand notched a club-high 21 goals this season despite appearing in just 49 of the Blue Jackets' 70 games. Getting both back would be a massive boost for Columbus, which is 3-6-6 since Jones suffered his injury.

Philadelphia Flyers (9-1)

James van Riemsdyk broke his hand and faced a four-to-six week absence days before the season was suspended, which would have likely kept him out for the start of the playoffs.

The suspension also opens the door for Nolan Patrick to come back after missing all of the campaign so far with migraines. Patrick, the Flyers' second overall pick in 2017, had resumed skating and was hopeful of a late-season return.

Pittsburgh Penguins (14-1)

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The Penguins dropped eight of their last 11 games before the season was suspended, but they might be the biggest beneficiaries if the playoffs don't begin until June.

Jake Guentzel underwent shoulder surgery after suffering a gruesome injury on Dec. 30, and he was given a late-May return date, making a comeback possible if the Penguins made the Stanley Cup Final. Now he'll likely be available for the duration of the playoffs.

Coming off a 40-goal season and on pace for another in 2019-20 before getting hurt, Guentzel has registered 43 points in 41 career playoff games. The Penguins acquired Jason Zucker to replace him, but getting both into the lineup would be an incredible jolt for Pittsburgh and a concern for the rest of the Metropolitan Division.

St. Louis Blues (9-1)

The defending champions have been making due without Vladimir Tarasenko, who's been sidelined since Oct. 24 with a shoulder injury. General manager Doug Armstrong announced recently that Tarasenko could return in late April, but the three-time All-Star will now be fully ready when the playoffs start.

Tarasenko scored 11 goals over 26 playoff games while helping the Blues win the Stanley Cup last season.

Tampa Bay Lightning (6-1)

Steven Stamkos suffered a core injury on Feb. 25 that was expected to sideline him for six-to-eight weeks, putting the star forward on track to probably return during the first round of the playoffs. Getting him back earlier is a relief for the Lightning, who are likely feeling the pressure after being swept in the first round last season.

Victor Hedman had also been battling a lingering lower-body injury, but the suspension gives him the opportunity to get healthy before what Tampa is hoping will be a deep playoff run.

Alex Moretto is a sports betting writer for theScore. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.

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How injuries could impact Stanley Cup odds
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