Luke Gazdic gave an update on the status of his injury on Sunday after practice, noting that he was cleared for contact a few days ago.
"I'm real close," he said. "I'm taking some pretty big contact, doing all those battling drills and feeling strong."
When asked about timelines, Gazdic felt that he should be back relatively shortly.
"I'd say a couple of weeks away. We'll see how these next few practices go and then re-evaluate here."
Gazdic said it was nice to get battling again in practice after many weeks skating in a non-contact jersey.
"That practice yesterday, we had a ton of battle drills in the corner. It's great to get into that physical aspect," he said. "It's nice to finally hit somebody."
The Oilers have had a couple of days to practice and prepare ahead of a busy week in which they'll play two high-powered Eastern Conference foes Monday and Wednesday in Tampa and Washington followed by the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday.
"The things we're doing well are our forecheck and ability to close quickly on our forecheck in the neutral zone," said Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins after practice. "We're also continuing to try and get better in a couple areas. Our power play's come off a little bit. We're not overly worried about it but we worked on that."
Eakins added that he also worked a lot on the team's play in its own end.
"Our D-zone coverage. That's nonstop with every team in the NHL. Just looking at the goals from last night (in the game between Vancouver and Tampa Bay), that area in front of the net is critical to every team. We spent a couple of days working hard on that.
"You need compete drills and battle drills in practice. Our guys worked extremely hard on that yesterday."
That means Brad Hunt will be the odd-man out again. Eakins was asked if he was tempted to put Hunt back in considering the power play has dropped off.
"Huntsy's done a great job but we do have to weigh five-on-five play. We feel Nikitin's coming up to speed now. He got hurt in camp and that held him back a little bit but now we feel he can take the minutes on that second power play right now," Eakins remarked.
"That leaves Huntsy on the outside but he's ready and waiting for the call."
Acton & Gazdic are rotating in on the fourth line.
Hunt is rotating in.
Hall-RNH-Eberle, Purcell-Draisaitl-Perron, Hendricks-Gordon-Joensuu, Pouliot-Arco-Yak— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) October 19, 2014
Ference-Petry, Marincin-Fayne, Niktin-Schultz, extras Acton, Gazdic and Hunt— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) October 19, 2014
The Oilers announced they have recalled defenceman Martin Marincin from the Oklahoma City Barons and assigned forward Steve Pinizzotto to the Oklahoma City Barons.
Defenceman Darnell Nurse has also been assigned to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL.
Game 1 of the series goes in Saskatoon on Monday, November 10 and Game 2 Tuesday, November 11 in Brandon. Chase is expected to be in the lineup for both of those games. Tristan Jarry of the Edmonton Oil Kings was also named as one of the goaltenders for Team WHL.
Team WHL roster for the 2014 SUBWAY® Super Series:
Eric Comrie (Tri-City Americans / Edmonton, AB)
Tristan Jarry (Edmonton Oil Kings / Delta, BC)
Madison Bowey (Kelowna Rockets / Winnipeg, MB)
Haydn Fleury (Red Deer Rebels / Carlyle, SK)
Dillon Heatherington (Swift Current Broncos / Calgary, AB)
Joe Hicketts (Victoria Royals / Kamloops, BC)
Josh Morrissey (Prince Albert Raiders / Calgary, AB)
Travis Sanheim (Calgary Hitmen / Elkhorn, MB)
Shea Theodore (Seattle Thunderbirds / Aldergrove, BC)
Tyson Baillie (Kelowna Rockets / Fort Saskatchewan, AB)
Conner Bleackley (Red Deer Rebels / High River, AB)
Greg Chase (Calgary Hitmen / Sherwood Park, AB)
Jaedon Descheneau (Kootenay Ice / Edmonton, AB)
Jayce Hawryluk (Brandon Wheat Kings / Roblin, MB)
Morgan Klimchuck (Regina Pats / Calgary, AB)
Nic Petan (Portland Winterhawks / Delta, BC)
Brayden Point (Moose Jaw Warriors / Calgary, AB)
John Quenneville (Brandon Wheat Kings / Edmonton, AB)
Jake Virtanen (Calgary Hitmen / Abbotsford, BC)
(Please note: Roster is subject to change and two additional players will be added to Team WHL prior to the event)
The schedule for the entire 2014 SUBWAY® Super Series is as follows:
Game 1 – Monday, November 10 at Saskatoon, SK
Game 2 – Tuesday, November 11 at Brandon, MB
Game 3 – Thursday, November 13 at Peterborough, ON
Game 4 – Monday, November 17 at Kingston, ON
Game 5 – Tuesday, November 18 at Bathurst, NB
Game 6 – Thursday, November 20 at Rimouski, QC
"Andrew (Ference) is second-to-none in the League with his leadership," Eakins said about his captain. "I believe Taylor and Ebs have earned full-time spots."
Last season, Matt Hendricks and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins both wore the A at times. Eakins said he had conversations with both players and expects significant leadership from them despite not wearing a letter.
Eakins said that Pouliot did not skate today due to a hip flexor but that he's probably for Thursday. Nikitin did skate but his status for Thursday remains up in the air. He has been out with an ankle injury.