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Connor McDavid practices with Edmonton Oilers

by Derek Van Diest

EDMONTON -- Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid participated in practice Friday for the first time since fracturing his left clavicle on Nov. 3.

McDavid, the No. 1 selection in the 2015 NHL Draft, took part in a number of light drills with the Oilers. Edmonton hosts the Arizona Coyotes at Rexall Place on Saturday (4 p.m. ET; SNW).

"It feels good, it's good to feel normal again and be out there with them," McDavid said. "Obviously, it was a little lighter practice getting ready for tomorrow's game, but it was still a lot of fun being out there with them."

McDavid, 18, sustained the injury in a 4-2 win against the Philadelphia Flyers. He lost an edge on a shorthanded rush and crashed into the end boards along with two Flyers defensemen.

The prognosis from Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli the following day was McDavid would be out of the lineup for months. The Oilers have not announced a date for his possible return.

"I'm not the guy to ask for that; I think you know who to go for the answer for that," McDavid said, referring to Chiarelli. "The doctors, they know what's best and when it's safe. You don't want to come back too early, but you also don't want to come back too late and waste a couple of games. It's a fine line and that's why they get paid to do that."

McDavid had five goals and seven assists in 13 games and was named the NHL rookie of the month for October. The Oilers were 5-8-0 with McDavid in the lineup and are 10-13-3 since his injury.

"I look at it right now the way Connor carries himself and he carries himself really positively," coach Todd McLellan said. "There is an energy to him, he handled the puck well [in practice], and he participated in the drills he could participate in. There was a smile on his face and he wants to do more. He looks pretty good."

McDavid had been skating on his own for the past two weeks. He's able to stick-handle and shoot the puck but has not been cleared to take part in contact drills.

"There is still a process that I have to go through," McDavid said. "Today was the first step, being on the ice with the guys and I just kind of go from there. We'll see how fast that moves along, and just today, it felt good to be back out there with them. The good thing about this, I guess, is that it's an upper-body injury and we can still keep the legs moving. I was on the bike four days after surgery, so there is no excuse to come back out of shape or anything like that. I feel really good with my legs and all that."

McDavid went through a similar setback a year ago with Erie of the Ontario Hockey League.

He broke a bone in his right hand during a fight with Mississauga Steelheads forward Bryson Cianfrone on Nov. 11, 2014 but returned in time to help Canada win the gold medal at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship in January.

"This is a little bit different, because it's not like last year with your hand when you had a cast on it and you know it's broken, obviously," McDavid said. "But when it feels so good, it's tough that I can't do this or I can't do that. But the doctors know best and I've been taking X-rays pretty frequently, so we know what's going on in there pretty good. It's their job to worry about that."

McDavid said he feels he is ahead of the original timeline set by the Oilers. Edmonton has 11 games before the NHL All-Star break, which begins Jan. 28.

"There is a timeline that you try and follow and reach each check point or progression faster than the day they've set," McDavid said. "I've been doing that for a little bit now, so I'm sure I'm ahead of schedule.

"It's unfortunate, but it is what it is, and you kind of have to be over that [frustration] phase now and have to start looking at the positives. It's getting a lot closer to the end than it was then. It's kind of a good feeling knowing that you can see the finish line."

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