The Edmonton Oilers remain noncommittal about Connor McDavid's return to game action, but there is substantial progress based on Friday's sighting of No. 97 on the ice with his teammates.
McDavid, who in late November was reportedly ahead of schedule in his recovery from a broken left collarbone suffered in a Nov. 3 game against Philadelphia, reiterated as much after Friday's workout.
"I would say definitely ahead of schedule," said McDavid, who was expected to be sidelined for months prior to having surgery. "There's been kind of a timeline that you try and follow and you try and reach each checkmark or progression faster than the day they said.
"I've been doing that for a little bit now, so I think, for sure, ahead of schedule."
McDavid, who turns 19 on Jan. 13, could return as early as this month, though there is no official timetable.
"I think he is on schedule," is all Oilers head coach Todd McLellan would tell reporters after the team's on-ice workout Friday.
"I think he's on schedule... His spirit is really good. I think he really enjoyed practice today." Coach McLellan on @cmcdavid97's status— @EdmontonOilers
McDavid, who felt well after Friday's skate and added his conditioning was at a good level, was the centre of attention as the players loosened up.
9️⃣7️⃣ leading the stretches today as well. pic.twitter.com/pmILzaBv71— @EdmontonOilers
McDavid was expected to be out months after he fell awkwardly and slid into the end boards with two Philadelphia defencemen.
The rookie NHL centre had surgery to install a plate and screws and by late November was said to have already resumed workouts in a pool and lifting weights.
Speaking of Yakupov, he has missed 17 games with an ankle sprain but was also on the ice Friday.