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McDavid has Oilers optimistic he'll play in opener

Center recovering from knee injury could be cleared for preseason game next week

by Derek Van Diest / Independent Correspondent

EDMONTON -- Connor McDavid could be healthy enough to play in the Edmonton Oilers season opener, general manager Ken Holland said Wednesday.

"I think we're pretty optimistic for opening night," Holland said.

The center is recovering from a PCL tear in his left knee sustained April 6 against the Calgary Flames. The Oilers captain has been practicing at training camp but has not been cleared to play. Edmonton's next preseason game is against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday, and it opens the regular season against the Canucks on Oct. 2.

"First off, the doctors are making the final decision," Holland said. "Secondly, we're going to err on the side of caution. But obviously, if the doctors sign off and Connor wants to play then he'll play preseason."

Video: McDavid working toward playing in season opener

The Oilers have five preseason games remaining. They defeated the Winnipeg Jets 2-0 on Monday and lost to the Canucks 4-2 on Tuesday.

"Is there a chance he can play next week? There's a chance," Holland said. "I think we need to run off another four, five or six days and then we'll see. I'm not going to say, yes, I'm not going to say no."

McDavid said Monday he would like to play in a preseason game or two if he's cleared by doctors. He did not speak to the media following practice Wednesday. After playing the Calgary Flames on Friday, the Oilers will travel to Kelowna, British Columbia, for team-building exercises before playing the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday.

"He's kind of got the same mindset, he's practicing getting treatments and he's doing everything in practice," Oilers coach Dave Tippett said. "I think we're going to get through the weekend and reevaluate once we get back from Kelowna and see where we are."

McDavid had 116 points (41 goals, 75) assists to finish second in the NHL to Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lighting, who had 128 points (41 goals, 87 assists).  

"Does he play a preseason game? We'll get to Kelowna [this weekend], we'll practice, and we'll make the determination," Holland said. "He's going to talk to some doctors, get some pictures and ultimately it's the doctors' final say."

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