Oilers defenceman Justin Schultz has been out of commission since October 27 dealing with some back issues.
Schultz has a bulging disc but is clearly on the mend as he skated with the team for the first time on Monday.
“I skated a couple times last week by myself or with (Lauri Korpikoski),” said Schultz. “It’s good to be back with the guys. You definitely don’t feel part of the team when they’re on the road and you’re here alone so it’s good to be back.”
As for a timetable for return, Schultz doesn’t have one but the signs are positive.
“It’s been going well,” he said. “It’s been kind of slow but I feel like I’m getting close. I couldn’t tell you how long until I’m back but it’s good, I’m getting better.”
Connor McDavid spoke to the media for the first time since breaking his clavicle on November 3, against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Oilers rookie centre had surgery the next day.
“It’s definitely way better than I thought it was gonna be at this point,” said McDavid. “It’s the 11-day mark, 10-day mark or whatever. I definitely feel way better than I thought I would.”
McDavid is not in a sling and has begun working out to stay in shape while he recovers.
“It’s not like it’s a leg or anything,” he said. “It’s upper body and I’ve been riding the bike already and doing all that. Definitely well into the process of staying in shape and getting it moving again.”
Not only is he on the bike, but he’s begun testing his shoulder and moving it more.
“I did upper body today in the gym,” said McDavid. “That kind of gives you an idea of how it’s feeling and all that.”
McDavid does not have a timetable for return but is expecting to speak with doctors again this week.
“I think the main part is getting back to 100 percent,” he said. “If there is any positive to it it’s that it’s a bone and that can heal. It’s not like it’s a separated shoulder or a torn ligament or anything like that. Bones heal and just got to wait for it to feel 100 percent.”
McDavid has 12 points (5-7-12) in 13 games this season.
Connor McDavid will speak to the media shortly. Stay tuned for full coverage.
Justin Schultz (back) is rotating in at practice today.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Matt Hendricks and Luke Gazdic are not on the ice for the start of practice.
Oilers Video Coach Myles Fee joins Team Europe’s staff for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
Fee is in his seventh season with the Oilers as the club’s video coach. He began his career with the New York Rangers in Team Services before becoming a video analyst.
Fee joins Team Europe Head Coach Ralph Krueger’s staff. Krueger was with the Oilers as Associate Coach from 2010-2012 an then was head coach in 2012-13, finishing with a 19-22-7 record in 48 games.
Connections between the Oilers and Team North America for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey run deep. Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli is a GM for the team, while Todd McLellan is the bench boss for both Edmonton and North America.
Now you can add Oilers Assistant Coach Jay Woodcroft to the list.
The NHLPA and NHL announced today that Jon Cooper (Tampa Bay), Peter DeBoer (San Jose), Dave Tippett (Arizona) and Woodcroft will serve as assistants on Team North America. They will report to Chiarelli, McLellan and Associate GM Stan Bowman.
“We are excited to announce Team North America’s assistant coaches for the World Cup of Hockey 2016,” Chiarelli said in a press release. “Jon, Peter, Dave and Jay are great additions to our staff and their tremendous experience will go a long way in helping our young players have a successful tournament.”
Woodcroft joined McLellan’s staff in Edmonton this off-season and previously served in the same capacity for the San Jose Sharks when McLellan coached there for seven seasons. Woodcroft also spent three seasons in Detroit as an assistant, winning the 2008 Stanley Cup.
Team North America will combine top players under the age of 23 from both Canada and the United States. The squad will compete against Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Team Europe, Russia, Sweden and the U.S. in September of 2016 in Toronto.
Peter Chiarelli, along with fellow co-general manager Stan Bowman, has been charged with piecing together the roster for Team North America, which will participate in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
Chiarelli and Bowman will draw from both Canada and the United States, selecting players under the age of 23 (as of October 1, 2016).
In his scouting so far involving the eligible pool of players, Chiarelli says he sees “a lot of variance” with the youth.
The variance allows some players who may not have been seen on the original list to jump into the fray, while some may drop off.
“These guys, they bubble up but then they can bubble down too. It would be nice if we could delay to the very last minute with our team, but we can’t,” said Chiarelli.
Team North America will try to wait as long as they can, however. The Oilers president of hockey operations and general manager says he expects the management team to take up until the March 1 deadline to pick the first 16 and then up until June 1 to name the rest of the roster (total of 20 skaters and three goalies).
Chiarelli was asked if there is more risk for Team North America given the age of the players, to lock in 16.
“There’s a bit of a risk,” said Chiarelli. “I think we’ve got a pretty good idea of the locks and who those 16 are. I think we will have a very good idea at that point. There’s always a risk. I think if you look back on these teams, with the selection base, there are guys who should be on it or who shouldn’t be on it when you look back. I’m sure that will be the case too.”
The Oilers have hit the ice for practice at Rexall Place.
Lines today at practice: Hall-Draisaitl-Eberle, Pouliot-RNH-Yak, Hendricks-Letestu-Purcell, Pakarinen-Lander-Miller.— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) November 5, 2015
Jordan Eberle is skating in a dark blue, top-six sweater today.
The line combinations are as follows:
Leon Draisaitl has grown a lot in a year. 365 days ago, Draisaitl was a rookie first-round pick finding his way in the NHL. His first stint in the League lasted just 37 games. Flash forward to the 2015-16 season, and Draisaitl has returned to the NHL on call-up with the Oilers, finding a new level of production in his first three games.
In three games this season, Draisaitl has three goals and four assists for seven points. He had just two goals and seven assists in all 37 games last season.
Nugent-Hopkins says Draisaitl looks different than last season.
“Just the way he’s always moving his feet,” said the Oilers centre. “I think when you first come into the league you can kind of stand around a little bit. I was a culprit of that when I first came in. You kind of watch the play a little too much and try to let it develop. Now, he’s always moving, he’s always getting to the loose pucks and stuff. He’s creating offence for our whole line and obviously he has that touch, he can make things happen, so it’s paying off.”
Hall and Nugent-Hopkins have both benefited from having Draisaitl on their right side. Both extended their point streaks to six games on Tuesday, while Hall has eight points (2-6-8) and Nugent-Hopkins has five points (2-3-5) in the last three games with Draisaitl on their line.
With Connor McDavid going down with a long-term upper body injury on Tuesday night, Draisaitl could be relied upon more heavily in the coming weeks. The natural centre has been playing on the wing, but could be asked to move back to the middle now that the Oilers are down a man. Jordan Eberle (shoulder) has been skating with the team and his return could be sooner rather than later, which would give the Oilers more options in their top six.
Head Coach Todd McLellan was non-committal after Tuesday’s win over Philadelphia on whether or not he’d move Draisaitl to centre saying he has played well on the wing. McLellan said the line combinations would become more clear Wednesday at practice.
2015 first-overall pick Connor McDavid went down late in the second period with an upper body injury after getting tangled up with two Philadelphia Flyers players and crashing into the boards. He did not return to the game for the third period.
Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan had little specifics on the prognosis, other than it is expected to be a long-term injury.
“He’s got an upper body injury that’s going to keep him out long term and he’s being evaluated right now with the doctors,” said McLellan.
McLellan said the team will continue to evaluate and more information will be provided in the morning.
“I can tell you it’s going to be long term and he’ll be out for a while,” said McLellan.
Oilers players reacted to the injury after the 4-2 win.
“It didn’t look too good,” said Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. “I just feel bad for him. He’s been playing so great, putting the work in and it’s just an unlucky play like that. You just kind of feel bad for him.”
“That’s tough. The kid is playing real well for us,” said Matt Hendricks. “I’m not sure what the exact details are of the injury. Glad he was able to get off on his own two feet. He’s in a little bit of pain. It’s hard for teammates to see a guy go down like that, but at the same time we had other guys step up and kind of relish the opportunity.”
McLellan said he saw McDavid after the game and told him to “keep his head up.”
“He’s disappointed he got injured,” said McLellan. “It’s his rookie year. Things are going really well and he wants to be part of the group, which he still will be but he’s just not going to wear the uniform for a little while. I have a 19-year-old and I can’t imagine how he’d feel if he were in the NHL, his first year, and he got hurt.”
McDavid is second on the team in scoring with 12 points in 13 games this season.
Matt Hendricks and Griffin Reinhart were among the recently injured to participate fully. Reinhart was paired with Eric Gryba, while Hendricks skated on the third line with Mark Letestu and Teddy Purcell.
“I don’t really have an exact date,” said Hendricks. “I think it’s coming along well so I would guess pretty soon. Today was the best day I’ve had so far. I think having a day off yesterday and being able to just rest it, no rehab on it, no putting it in the skate, no real grind on it at all, it’s come along well. Hopefully here the next game, tomorrow or the next game after that.”
Hendricks suffered a cut on his ankle from a blocked shot and has not played since October 17 in Calgary. Reinhart’s undisclosed injury has kept him out of the lineup since October 18. He has been activated off IR.
“I’m pretty anxious to get back out there,” said Reinhart. “It’s not fun when you have to watch, but I think you can learn a lot from being up there and you see how much time and space you have and there’s a lot of time and space you have. There’s a lot of different parts to the game that look different up there than they do on the ice. I learned from that, but I’m obviously pretty excited to get back in a game.”
If either of these players are available, it would signal the need for a roster move. Reinhart’s return would mean shuffling a blueline that includes a couple young players who are battling to stick in the lineup. Reinhart is one of them.
“If Griffin can play tomorrow, there’s some question marks with the other guys,” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. “We’ll see how they feel after practice today but we’re getting deep and we’ll have to make decisions there.”