The moment that hockey fans have been waiting for is nearly here; Connor McDavid is set to return to the NHL after the All-Star break.
This year’s highly anticipated, the first overall pick has been out with a fractured clavicle since November 3 – when he crashed into the boards with Philadelphia’s Michael Del Zotto and Brandon Manning. Here’s the incident below, courtesy of NHL Network.
The freak incident resulted in the 18-year-old requiring surgery and, in all fairness to the youngster, he showed tremendous strength with a huge pain threshold as he picked up his stick and skated off unaided.
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Connor McDavid had 12 points in his first 13 games in the NHL, prior to requiring surgery on his fractured clavicle.
McDavid’s less than a week away
On January 24, the Edmonton Oilers official website revealed that Connor McDavid had been cleared for full contact practice. The first overall pick had this to say about his impending return: "Management and I came together and agreed to go to Bakersfield for a few days and skate and keep practicing.
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"It's a long break between now and then, just going to skate and get ready for what hopefully is a return on [Feb. 2].
"The practices are a little bit more intense, with a lot of battling and stuff like that. It will be good to be involved in that and hopefully come back feeling good and ready to go for the second.
“Obviously, with this long break, it's not ideal to go and sit around for eight days and then try to come back and feel good. I think it’s a good opportunity for me to feel good and be ready to go when I come back."
McDavid returned to his team and the fans for the Oilers’ skills competition, per the Edmonton Sun, where the teenage super-skater said: "I couldn’t be more excited to come back, today was a little bit of a tease.
"You’re dressed up like it’s a game, the fans are there, everyone is acting like it’s a game, it’s almost like a tease, but it’s exciting to be back on the ice with the fans and the guys."
In the skills competition, Taylor clocked in as their fastest skater, doing a lap in 14.1 seconds. But what was more impressive was defensemen Darnell Nurse’s backwards lap in 15.9 seconds.
Rotoworld says that all of this action “reinforces the idea that McDavid will return immediately following the All-Star break.”
Can they make the playoffs with McDavid back in the lines?
After 50 games, the Oilers sit at the bottom of the Pacific Division and are 13 points from the second Wild Card playoff spot – currently occupied by the Nashville Predators, who are on 56 points after 50 games.
With Connor McDavid, Edmonton won five of their 13 games – giving them a 38.5% win rate. In the 37 games since the top prospect’s injury, the Rexall Place residents achieved a diminished 37.8% win rate – with just 14 wins.
Although the win percentages show that the Oilers were only marginally better with McDavid, the 18-year-old was gaining momentum with each passing game, and they could well be above the bottom spot if he didn’t get injured.
Last season, the Oilers finished second from last in the Pacific with just 62 points – which was 37 points away from the Wild Cards – so they’re on track to eclipse last season’s record, but it’s still very unlikely that they’ll make the playoffs.
Unfortunately for the Oilers, even with McDavid back and Taylor Hall still putting up stellar numbers, their defensive and goaltending situations are just too poor to expect a run to the playoffs.