Once again, the Edmonton Oilers are sitting in the NHL’s basement once again and have won only three of their past 10 games. And while the breakout play of Leon Draisaitl has been lifting the spirits of Oilers fans, GM Peter Chiarelli delivered some news Thursday that’s sure to brighten every Edmonton fan’s day.
Chiarelli told Sportsnet’s Mark Spector that rookie center Connor McDavid is “ahead of schedule” in his recovery from a broken collarbone that he suffered Nov. 3 against the Philadelphia Flyers. McDavid went crashing into the boards and immediately left the game, and the initial diagnosis was he’d miss anywhere from two to three months. The outlook is much more promising now, however.
“He’s been in the pool, been lifting weights,” Chiarelli told Spector. “There are no soft tissue injuries, which is important. When you get a break like that, oftentimes there is accompanying soft tissue injuries. That slows down the recovery.”
Chiarelli said there will be no rushing McDavid back, though. Instead, he said the Oilers plan on doing what’s best for both the organization and McDavid. Realistically, Edmonton was a bubble playoff team with McDavid in the lineup. Without him, they’ve fallen out of the race and likely aren’t going to make it to the post-season. With that in mind, a healthy McDavid that misses three months — 100 percent healthy with no aches or pains, that is — is much better than rushing McDavid back and having him potentially re-injure himself.
McDavid’s agent Jeff Jackson reiterated what Chiarelli said about a timeline for return, echoing that no one is going to rush the rookie back into action.
“He wants to get back as soon as he can,” Jackson told Spector. “He hates watching, and he wants to be on the ice with his teammates as soon as he can. I know it’s a cliche, but he hates it…No one is going to rush him back for the sake of having him back. If you picked a date, I’d add a week onto it.”
The first batch of good news came when it was reported by Spector days after the injury that McDavid had suffered no damage to the shoulder. Even though the collision with the boards was violent, McDavid didn’t dislocate the shoulder, damage his labrum and there was no soft tissue damage, Spector reported.
On Nov. 16, in his first meeting with media since the injury, McDavid declined to answer whether he felt the hit was clean or not.
"It's a fast game. It's hockey. People get hurt,” McDavid said. “Any time three guys go into the boards at that kind of speed, something is bound to happen. I guess I kind of got the brunt of it."
Before going down with injury, McDavid had notched five goals and 12 points in 13 outings and had just come off a seven-game point streak.