NHL teams with the most to gain from a lengthy layoff

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March 13th, 2020

The NHL decided to suspend the season on Thursday due to the growing concern surrounding the spread of the coronavirus. There is currently no timetable for the league’s return. An optimistic projection would be a return to action after a month, based on the NBA’s decision to suspend their season for 30 days and subsequently reevaluate the situation.

If the NHL sees fit to resume the season in mid-April, one would have to imagine a truncated version of the remaining regular season and/or postseason being put into effect. Should such a scenario unfold, here are two clubs that stand to benefit.

Colorado Avalanche

Most recent Stanley Cup Odds: +950

The Avalanche have had to combat numerous injuries throughout the season, yet they’re third in goal differential at +46 and are sitting just two points behind the Blues for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

Center Nazem Kadri (36 points through 51 games) was sidelined on Feb. 8, and left winger Matt Calvert (25 points through 50 games) joined him on the IL the following week along with starting netminder Philipp Grubauer. On Feb. 16, right winger Mikko Rantanen (41 points in 42 games) hit the IL for a second time this year. Andre Burakovsky (45 points in 58 games) has been day-to-day with a lower-body injury since Feb. 28.

Fortunately for Colorado, All-Star center Nathan MacKinnon had not been bitten by the injury bug, until this week. A lower-body injury was expected to sideline him for 1-2 weeks, an eternity during the NHL’s stretch run. If the season resumes at some point and the Avalanche get most if not all of these talented players back, the rest of the league will have to beware.

Carolina Hurricanes

Most recent Stanley Cup Odds: +1800

At a glance, it might seem that the NHL’s sudden suspension of the season hurts the Hurricanes, winners of three straight games. But this unexpected vacation could actually do Carolina some good.

Trade deadline pickup Sami Vatanen suffered a setback during a morning skate on Mar. 5 and has still not made his debut for the Hurricanes. Carolina desperately needs help on the blueline as both Dougie Hamilton and Brett Pesce are dealing with long-term ailments. The time off will give Vatanen ample time to recover.

Goalie Petr Mrazek (concussion) returned on Mar. 10 with a win against the Red Wings, but James Reimer is still M.I.A. with a lower-body injury. However, assuming the season resumes, he should be ready to help his club secure a playoff berth. 

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