Penguins favored to win Stanley Cup next year

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The Pittsburgh Penguins are the first team to repeat as Stanley Cup champions in the NHL’s salary cap era. Now, can they accomplish a three-peat?

Not even 24 hours after defeating the Nashville Predators in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, clinching back-to-back championships, the Penguins have been listed as the favorites to win it all in 2018.

Their most recent opponent, the Predators, are further down the list at 14/1 to win the Stanley Cup next year.

From Bovada:

Pittsburgh Penguins               9/1
Chicago Blackhawks             12/1
Edmonton Oilers                   12/1
Tampa Bay Lightning           12/1
Washington Capitals             12/1
Anaheim Ducks                      14/1
Nashville Predators               14/1
Dallas Stars                             16/1
Minnesota Wild                      16/1
Montreal Canadiens              16/1
New York Rangers                 16/1
Toronto Maple Leafs             16/1
Los Angeles Kings                 18/1
Columbus Blue Jackets        20/1
San Jose Sharks                     22/1
St. Louis Blues                       28/1
Boston Bruins                        33/1
Calgary Flames                      33/1
Ottawa Senators                    33/1
Florida Panthers                    40/1
New York Islanders               40/1
Philadelphia Flyers                40/1
Winnipeg Jets                         40/1
Arizona Coyotes                      66/1
Buffalo Sabres                         66/1
Carolina Hurricanes              66/1
Detroit Red Wings                 66/1
Colorado Avalanche               75/1
New Jersey Devils                  75/1
Vancouver Canucks                75/1
Vegas Golden Knights         150/1

It would definitely be a mountainous task to win three consecutive Stanley Cups. It hasn’t happened since the early 1980s, when the New York Islanders won four straight, before the Edmonton Oilers won five of the next seven. 

The Penguins should certainly be a contender next year in the Eastern Conference. Core star players Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and Kris Letang are all locked into long-term contracts, and the first three aforementioned talents finished in the top three in playoff scoring this year.

Letang missed the playoffs due to neck surgery, but he could also be ready to go for the beginning of next season.

There is still plenty of work and plenty of decisions ahead for Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford. In addition to a decision on the future of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh has 12 players on expiring contracts, including seven pending unrestricted free agents and five pending restricted free agents. The latter category includes notables Conor Sheary, Brian Dumoulin and Justin Schultz.

Related: Bargains in Murray, Guentzel could extend Penguins’ contending window

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports
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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.