EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Connor McDavid practiced Monday with the Edmonton Oilers, and the rookie center says he is ready to return after breaking his left collarbone.
The No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft got hurt when he was ridden hard into the boards in the second period of a 4-2 victory against Philadelphia on Nov. 3. He has missed 37 games, almost half a season.
“He is ready to go,” coach Todd McLellan said after McDavid centered a line between Jordan Eberle and Benoit Pouliot in practice.
McDavid, who spent the last week practicing with the Oilers’ AHL team in Bakersfield, was asked if he was nervous heading into just the 14th game of his NHL career.
“Anxious is probably the better word,” he said. “I’m excited. It feels like my first game all over again.”
He said he’s not going to let the injury play on his mind when the puck drops Tuesday night against Columbus.
“The doctors wouldn’t let me play if I wasn’t 100 percent,” he said. “They say it’s safe to play, so it’s safe to play.”
McDavid, 19, has five goals and 12 points in 13 games. He also has a plus-four rating with six penalty minutes.
He hasn’t played one shift with Eberle, who was out for the start of the season with a shoulder injury. By the time Eberle came back, McDavid was out.
McDavid believes they’ll mesh well.
“He has got those quick great hands and a deceiving shot that fools goalies a lot of the time,” McDavid said. “If you get him the puck in a good spot, you know he’s going to finish it.”
Eberle says it may be easier for McDavid to get back to game speed given that all NHL players are coming off the All-Star break.
“With his speed and the way he thinks the game he’ll be fine,” Eberle said.
McLellan said the plan for McDavid is to “open the door and say go,” but said they’ll be watching his minutes to see how he is doing.
“The way he skated today I’m not as worried about Connor as I am the other 19 that have been off a week,” he said.
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