Unless I’m reading things completely wrong, and that’s happened a time or two, indications are Connor McDavid’s much-anticipated return to the line-up of the Edmonton Oilers after having surgery Nov. 4 to repair a broken clavicle is a matter of days, not weeks.

That read, for me, is based on McDavid participating in limited contact drills during the team’s skate at Rexall Place Wednesday — an event that didn’t go unnoticed by those who’ve been eye-balling every move he’s made in recent weeks – protocol I’ve seen employed with players returning from injury over the years and what McDavid himself has said.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

As for McDavid: “I’d say I’m definitely ahead of schedule,” he said after skating with his teammates for the first time Jan. 1. “There hasn’t been any pain basically since the surgery or a few days after. There’s a process I’m going to have to go through, taking contact and all that. (This) was the first step. It’s good to feel normal and be out there again.”

McDavid, injured against the Philadelphia Flyers Nov. 3, had been skating on his own for three weeks before he took a twirl with the team on New Year’s Day. He progressed to taking face-off drills last Monday and to taking limited contact Wednesday.



Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Framed in a diagnosis that recovery time could be anywhere from 10-12 weeks, the drills McDavid took part in Wednesday came 64 days after his surgery. There’s still another step to navigate. The drills Wednesday involved leveraging and pushing an opponent with the puck out of the face-off circle. McDavid still has to work through taking more impact in coming days.

That said, even allowing that no two injuries are exactly the same and that no two players will recover from surgery at exactly the same pace, I don’t recall an Oiler player taking more than 10 days to return to game action after being cleared for contact by team doctors — barring a setback because of that contact. Ten days from Wednesday puts McDavid back in the line-up Jan. 16 against the Calgary Flames, 74 days after his surgery.

For context, Patrick Kane returned from surgery to repair a broken clavicle after 50 days last season. He had surgery Feb. 25. He was cleared for contact April 13 and was in Chicago’s line-up against Nashville for the first game in the first round of the playoffs April 15.

While I wouldn’t be surprised to see McDavid back before Jan. 16, next Tuesday in Arizona or Thursday in San Jose, the Oilers absolutely have to err on the side of caution. I expect they will. I see the back end of that 10-day window, the game against the Flames, as the likeliest return date.



  • With a 17-21-3 record and 37 points through 41 games, the Oilers have exceeded my expectations at the halfway mark of the season, given they’ve played 28 games without McDavid, 13 without Jordan Eberle, 19 without Nail Yakupov and 11 without Oscar Klefbom.

    I had the Oilers pegged for 82 points, a .500 points percentage, this season. For them to be just four points off that pace with the injuries, time to adjust to coach Todd McLellan and some patches of sketchy goaltending at the halfway mark is pretty good in my books.
  • Actions rather than words have to be the bottom line with Zack Kassian, but he sounded very committed to making the most of what amounts to his last chance to play in the NHL when Jason Gregor and I talked with him Wednesday. Kassian, acquired by the Oilers from Montreal for Ben Scrivens after completing the second step of the NHL’s substance abuse program, brings the size and degree of nasty the Oilers need up front. He’ll get that chance if he flies straight. You can listen to the interview here.
  • Interesting debate on ON yesterday about the Ryan Johansen trade from Columbus to Nashville for Seth Jones and whether the Oilers would’ve been wise to trade Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for Jones. As much as the Oilers need what Jones might become, he’s still a kid and isn’t there yet. I wouldn’t have traded RNH for him and I wouldn’t have traded Johansen either. He’s a superior player to RNH.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

  • Cain

    Robin, johansen is a “superior” player compared to RNH? Come on, I don’t think so. Johansen may have more finish then RNH but as
    For skating, passing, defensive play (edge to RNH), they are equals. Hardly superior.

    GP 298 POINTS 216

    GP 309 POINTS 192

    Superior? Really? Am I missing something here?

    • Natejax30

      I get that you love Nuge, and probably won’t listen to a rational argument, but here you go:

      Johansen – goals in a season (33 to 24), assists in a season (45 to 37), points in a season (71 to 56), is bigger (6’3 to 5’10), better cap hit ($4m to $6m).

      One criticism I’ve seen of Nuge outside of Edmonton is that $6m is a lot to pay a centre who has never broke 60 points. It’s not Nuge’s fault MacT was a terrible negotiator who gave out big contracts like candy. I would have accepted a big over-pay as well.

      I’d be satisfied if Mr. Two-Way could win 50% for FO%. Seems like an important skill for a two-way centre. I don’t expect his points to improve much more, though he should be peaking points-wise. Johansen is clearly the better offensive centre, and he has the size to manage the physical West. Nuge melts away as soon as the games get physical.

    • Old Soldier

      It is with the upmost sincerity that I wish Ryan-Nugent-Hopkins to use his superior intellect to make a break for the Hills,just GTF out of dodge,backlight the tire-fire,and go to a traditional NHL team dynamic where he will be given the focus and leadership and on-ice management room he requires to be a top 10 NHL point producer.

      Nuge is only 22 and he survived the Eakins Debacle better than anyone cerebrally he wasnt scarred,even Hallsy was scarred,so IMHO Nugey should begin considering his future in new independant way,even though T-Mac is beginning to adjust his Management focuses now to optimise Nuge,the external pressure he was recieving that forced him to do it is not going to be there any more,NAS is retired,so all that is left to see happen now is for the the “Copper Rain” to begin falling onto the entire NHL.

      Every single CORE player on the Roster,EXCEPT HALL…..has been intentionally UNDER-OPTIMISED by Oilers management and its going to cost these kids many many millions of dollars which the Oilers know very well are attatched to points.

      McDavid is not going to need Hall because HE is the driver like Hall AND the Catalyst all rolled into one.

      Draisaitl is a NUMBER ONE Centerman and has to be used this way so McDavid is now a Generational 2nd line Centerman .

      The entire show has turned south now and who knows what we will see over the next few years.

      Let it Rain…let it Rain…let it Rain!!!!

  • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

    I was really hoping a McDavid, Hall and Pouliot line would work out. I’ve been holding on to “Benny and the Jets” for a while now.