Connor McDavid set to return to Oilers' lineup
Rookie centre missed 3 months with broken collarbone
When the Edmonton Oilers begin their post-all-star-break push for a playoff spot Tuesday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, they will have standout rookie Connor McDavid back in uniform.
"He is ready to go," Oilers head coach Todd McLellan announced Monday.
The 19-year-old centre will play his first NHL game since breaking his left collarbone in an awkward end-boards collision on Nov. 3 against Philadelphia.
McDavid was recalled from Edmonton's American Hockey League affiliate in Bakersfield, Calif., on Sunday and practiced with the NHL club on Monday.
"It definitely feels a lot like September," said McDavid. "It's exciting. I'm just excited to play again."
McDavid had been skating with the Condors since early last week and took "bumps" from AHL players after being cleared for contact.
He told ESPN.com last week that sitting idle wasn't easy.
"It's been really hard," said McDavid, the first overall pick in last June's NHL draft. "But at the same time you understand it's a process. There's hopefully a number of years left to play."
McDavid, who was named NHL rookie of the month for October and has five goals and 12 points in 13 games, said the support from the Oilers' fan base helped him in his recovery.
"The Oilers fans are so passionate. Just from walking down the street and talking to people I know there, they're excited to have me back," said the native of Richmond Hill, Ont.
Edmonton enters Tuesday's game 29th in the 30-team NHL with a 19-26-5 record for 43 points, tied with the last-place Blue Jackets, who are 30th based on the fact they have played one more game (19-27-5).
The Oilers were 5-8-0 at the time of McDavid's injury and have gone 14-18-5 since. They remain 13 points behind 24-18-8 Nashville, which holds the second wild-card playoff spot in the Western Conference.
McDavid believes a playoff berth is a legitimate goal.
"You look at our division, the Pacific, you're never really out of it," he said. "I don't think anyone in our room and our organization feels that it's out of the question."
In other Oilers news, the team has summoned defenceman Griffin Reinhart and forward Zack Kassian from Bakersfield.
The 21-year-old Reinhart of North Vancouver, B.C., has one assist in 13 games with the Oilers this season.
Kassian, 25, has two points and 18 penalty minutes with Edmonton.
With files from The Canadian Press