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NHL: Injury update

Several teams have had to deal with significant injuries in the early going of the NHL season and as we head towards one of the busiest periods of the calendar, we take a look at the biggest injury stories in the league right now.

Capitals hanging in the race

No team in the NHL has suffered as many injuries as the Washington Capitals and currently the team +150 to make the playoffs are missing over $40 million worth of salary cap. 

Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson and T.J. Oshie headline the players out indefinitely which also includes Carl Hagelin and Connor Brown. Dmitry Orlov and Beck Malenstyn are also missing shorter-term.

To the Caps' credit they have managed to remain in playoff contention with a 7-9-2 record and hope the new year will bring much needed relief as their stars regain fitness.

The main question mark hangs over top-line centre Backstrom who is working his way back from major hip resurfacing surgery after years of chronic pain and issues.

The experimental procedure has ended the careers of a select few, though Backstrom is optimistic that he will return and even play at some point this season.

Avs short to begin defence

The Colorado Avalanche are +500 to retain the Stanley Cup but they have had to begin their defence without Captain Gabriel Landeskog.

The 29-year-old was forced to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery after missing the teams opening three games of the season.

Ruled out for 12 weeks, he is expected to return early into the New Year and in time to try to help the Avalanche go back-to-back as Stanley Cup champions in the playoffs.

Landeskog sat out the final 23 regular-season games last season after having other surgery on his knee.

He returned for the playoffs, where he had 11 goals and 11 assists to help the Avalanche win the franchise's third Stanley Cup title and first since 2001.

Colorado have also had to make do without impactful forward Valeri Nichushkin who was off to a hot start to the season scoring seven goals, five assists in seven games.

The 27-year-old is expected to return in mid-December after last playing on October 25.

Without Darren Helm (hip) all season too (expected back in December), the Avalanche have managed an 8-5-1 record which is third in the Central Division.

Blue Jackets suffering

Things are going from bad to worse for the Columbus Blue Jackets who hold a 5-9-1 record and sit second last in the NHL standings.

Top defenceman Zach Werenski has been ruled out for the rest of the regular season due to a separated shoulder and torn labrum and to compound the issue, his partner on the top line Nick Blankenburg has also been put on injured reserve for six-to-eight weeks due to a fractured ankle and high ankle sprain.

Further bad news has followed with star forward Patrick Laine set to miss the next month with a sprained ankle.

Werenski, 25, has recorded three goals, five assists in 13 games this season and leads the team in ice time, averaging 23.36 minutes per game. Without him, the Blue Jackets are +1500 to be able to turn around their season and reach the playoffs for the first time in three seasons.

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Kane in good spirits

Edmonton Oilers forward Evander Kane says he is in good spirits following a scary incident which saw his wrist cut to the bone by a skate in a game against Tampa Bay Lightning on November 8.

Kane was immediately taken to hospital where he underwent an operation to repair the laceration.

He is expected to miss 3-4 months for the Oilers who are 9-8-0 and fourth in the Pacific Division.

Before the injury, Kane had put up five goals and eight assists over 13 games this season. He is in the first year of a four-year, $20.5-million contract he signed this summer after joining Edmonton mid-season last year.

Kane led last season's playoffs with 13 goals in 15 games, helping the Oilers to reach the Western Conference Final. Edmonton are +850 to go a step further and win the Western Conference this season and +1800 to lift the Stanley Cup.  

Norris escapes surgery

The Ottawa Senators were relieved to hear the news that their top scorer of last season Josh Norris won't require surgery on a shoulder injury sustained on October 22 against the Arizona Coyotes.

23-year-old Norris scored 35 goals and also finished third on the team with 55 points in 66 games last season despite missing 15 games due to a shoulder problem which is said to not be related to his current issue.

Norris signed an eight-year, $63-million contract with the Senators in the summer and had one goal, one assist in five games before being hurt.

Expected to be out for three to five months, while Norrish won't now need surgery there is no timeline for his return with the team saying he will be evaluated in January and an update provided then.

The sooner he can return for the Senators the better who despite bringing in several big-names in the summer have struggled with a 5-9-1 record which ranks last in the Atlantic Division and makes them +500 to make the playoffs. 

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