‘Nothing is off the table:’ Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft doesn’t rule out Connor McDavid for Heritage Classic

Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
6 months ago
When Connor McDavid got injured Saturday night in the Edmonton Oilers’ 3-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets, the first thing that came to mind for many in the market was the Heritage Classic just seven days away.
An undoubtedly flagship event for the Oilers and their captain, it would be nothing short of a significant loss for them, and the greater NHL as a whole, if he wasn’t able to go.
The Oilers put a timetable of one to two weeks for what the team is calling an upper-body injury, putting the outdoor game smack dab in the middle of the projection.
But Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft wasn’t ready Monday to rule McDavid out for the game.
“I’ve learned when it comes to Connor, nothing is off the table,” he said. “I think the way I took the news, I tried to kind of tried to hint towards it after the game, we think it’s something a little more muscular than anything.
“Sometimes it just takes more time than anything. I take that as good news and that timeframe as good news. We’ll see how he does, he just has to get healthy.”
The injury is likely to have happened during the Jets game Saturday, and on the Sportsnet broadcast, it was speculated it occured in the first period when the Oilers’ superstar got tangled up with Winnipeg defender Josh Morrissey. The two tied up near the bench and fell to the ice, and McDavid landed directly on his left side. Late in the game, he was seen reaching for that area twice during a shift.
The Oilers now have to adjust to life without McDavid — at least for games Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild and Thursday against the New York Rangers. It’s something Woodcroft and the team are welcoming as a new challenge.
“I think there’s two things: one, he views it from himself and the injury towards himself. The other thing is he views it as the captain of this team, and how this could be a really positive inflection point for our group,” Woodcroft said. “He sees it for the opportunity that it represents and that’s certainly how his coaches and his teammates feel about it too.”
An opportunity at that.
During the Oilers’ Tuesday morning skate, Evander Kane and Mattias Janmark flanked Leon Draisaitl on the top line, while Warren Foegele and Zach Hyman did the same to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the second line.
The Oilers’ third line consisted of Dylan Holloway, Ryan McLeod and Connor Brown, with Adam Erne and Derek Ryan drawing in as the 10th and 11th forward. Edmonton will run 11 forwards and seven defencemen, with Darnell Nurse and Cody Ceci on the top pair, Mattias Ekholm and Evan Bouchard on the second pair, then a third pairing consisting of Brett Kulak, Vincent Desharnais and Philip Broberg.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

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