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McDavid won't be rushed back from knee injury for Oilers opener: report

Center aims for first game of season but 'decisions will be made on conservative side,' GM says

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

Connor McDavid will not be rushed back from a knee injury for the Edmonton Oilers' season opener, general manager Ken Holland told Sportsnet.

"Opening night is the goal for everybody," Holland said in a story published Wednesday. "But the bigger priority is what we're doing is right for Connor in the long term."

The 22-year-old center, who tore the PCL in his left knee in Edmonton's season finale against the Calgary Flames on April 6, is expected to arrive in Edmonton on Friday with training camp scheduled to begin next week. The Oilers open their season against the Vancouver Canucks on Oct. 2.

"Decisions will be made on the conservative side," said Holland, who traveled to Toronto three times to visit with McDavid during the offseason.

"We want him to come back when he's ready, 100 percent," Edmonton center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said at the NHL Player Media Tour in Chicago on Thursday. "Whenever that is, then obviously we're going to love having him.

"It's always tough, it doesn't matter who it is, when your teammate goes down like that, you never want to see it. You just hope they come back and feel good. He won't miss a step when he's back."

McDavid's agent, Jeff Jackson, told Sportsnet there haven't been any setbacks in his client's recovery but conceded it's too early to know whether he will play opening night.

"On Sept. 3 you can't say whether he's ready or not to start the season," Jackson said. "He has another month before the season starts and he's in very good shape. No one is saying (he will be delayed) until November or December. He's done extremely well so far and everyone is happy with his progression."

McDavid did not skate at the annual BioSteel Camp in Toronto last week but said that he has been skating this summer. He did not set a timetable for his return to the ice with Edmonton.

"It's coming back together and everything like that, but ultimately you don't want to come back too early," McDavid said. "(You want to) make sure it's fully healed and you're not going to get hurt again."

It's the second significant injury for McDavid since being selected No. 1 by the Oilers in the 2015 NHL Draft. He missed 37 games with a fractured clavicle as a rookie in 2015-16.

"I've been hurt twice now, once with my collarbone and once my knee," McDavid said. "A lot of days where it's a lot of grueling work. It's long, a lot of tedious days as well where you're doing something that feels pretty basic, but you got to do it. It's part of the steps."

McDavid had an NHL career-high 116 points (41 goals, 75 assists) last season, second in the League to Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov, who had 128 points (41 goals, 87 assists).

In 287 NHL games, McDavid has 372 points (128 goals, 244 assists). He was voted winner of the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP in 2016-17.

Nugent-Hopkins said he felt optimistic about McDavid's status after speaking with him earlier in the offseason.

"It was definitely tough to watch him go down like that at the end of the year," Nugent-Hopkins said. "But I have talked to him; I always check up on him in the summer, and he says he's feeling pretty good."

The Oilers (35-38-9) finished 11 points behind the Colorado Avalanche for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference last season. They've missed the playoffs the past two seasons and three of four since McDavid entered the NHL.

NHL.com senior writer Dan Rosen contributed to this report

Tweet from @Sportsnet: ���On Sept. 3, you can���t say whether he���s ready or not to start the season," said McDavid's agent Tuesday."He has another month before the season starts, and he���s in very good shape."(Via @SportsnetSpec) https://t.co/2z23IWHgA6

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