The Edmonton Oilers will not expedite Connor McDavid’s return now that fellow centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is out six to eight weeks with a hand injury, Sportsnet has confirmed in a text exchange with Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli.
It must have been enticing.
McDavid, out since Nov. 3 with a broken clavicle, has been taking part in full practices with his teammates since Jan. 1. He is on the road with the Oilers in Florida and watched last night as Nugent-Hopkins blocked a shot with his right hand in a 4-2 Oilers win.
Head coach Todd McLellan said Tuesday that Nugent-Hopkins would be lost for up to two months, leaving the Oilers perilously thin at centre ice, minus McDavid and RNH.
The team has said McDavid will return after the all-star break, which equates to a Feb. 2 return against Columbus at Rexall Place — or two weeks from today. But now that Nugent-Hopkins is gone — and with McDavid looking every bit ready to play — speculation surfaced Monday night that he might play as soon as tonight in Tampa Bay.
Sportsnet has confirmed, however, that McDavid’s return date will not be pushed up. It must be enticing, with Edmonton’s teetering six points back of a wildcard spot and once again leading the NHL in man games lost to injury.
The extra two weeks of recovery is the prudent decision. Once again, the healthy players will have to soldier on minus another key player in Nugent-Hopkins.