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McDavid unlikely to play in Oilers preseason games

Edmonton would 'rather be safe than sorry' with center recovering from knee injury

by Derek Van Diest / Independent Correspondent

EDMONTON -- Connor McDavid is unlikely to play any preseason games for the Edmonton Oilers while recovering from a knee injury, general manager Ken Holland said Wednesday.

Holland said the center could miss the season opener Oct. 2 against the Vancouver Canucks. He said if McDavid were healthy, he would likely play two or three of Edmonton's seven preseason games.

"But obviously it's a unique situation," Holland said. "Now one at most, but it's very likely zero. We've got three weeks to go and we're going to be conservative. I'd rather be safe than sorry. If he's not ready for opening night, then he's not ready for opening night."

McDavid, who tore the PCL in his left knee in the season finale against the Calgary Flames on April 6, was on the ice with some Oilers teammates Saturday for the first time since sustaining the injury, which did not require surgery.

"He was obviously in Toronto all summer. He's got a group of people there that were working with him on his rehab," Holland said. "I got constant videos, one or two videos a week, of him skating and training, and our training staff and our doctors were in communication. We had some conference calls in May and June and then they communicated, our staff with their staff, and I think everything we've heard all along has been positive."

Video: McDavid working toward playing in season opener

The Oilers open training camp Thursday with the first on-ice session Friday. Edmonton hosts the Winnipeg Jets in its first preseason game Monday.

"You've seen him skate, he's involved, he's scrimmaging and he's doing things 3-on-3 down low, so I think he's in a great spot," Holland said. "But we might as well be conservative and safe."

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

The 22-year-old has 372 points (128 goals, 244 assists) in 287 NHL games. The No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft was voted winner of the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP in 2016-17.

Of playing in the preseason, McDavid said Saturday, "I don't know. That's kind of out of my hands. The doctors and whatnot will figure that all out and we'll listen to them. The doc will say when I'm good to go and that's when I'll go."

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