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Carolina captain Eric Staal to miss 3 months of off-season with sprained MCL

Canada's Eric Staal is helped off the ice by teammates Ryan O'Reilly (right) and Claude Giroux after being kneed by Sweden's Alexander Edler during quarter-final game action Thursday, May 16, 2013 at the world hockey championship in Stockholm, Sweden. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

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Canada's Eric Staal is helped off the ice by teammates Ryan O'Reilly (right) and Claude Giroux after being kneed by Sweden's Alexander Edler during quarter-final game action Thursday, May 16, 2013 at the world hockey championship in Stockholm, Sweden. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

RALEIGH, N.C. - The Carolina Hurricanes say they expect captain Eric Staal to be ready to start next season after suffering a scary-looking knee injury during an international tournament.

The team said Staal underwent an MRI on his right knee Saturday and it revealed a third-degree sprain of his medial collateral ligament.

The team says Staal won't need surgery and he should need only three months of rehab.

Staal's injury Thursday during the world hockey quarterfinals in Stockholm certainly could have been a lot worse.

The captain of Canada's team collapsed to the ice in obvious pain following a knee-to-knee collision with Sweden's Alex Edler.

The durable Staal, 28, has missed only 14 games during nine NHL seasons. He led the Hurricanes with 35 assists and 53 points.

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