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Oilers' McDavid has fractured clavicle, out months

by Derek Van Diest

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers will be without center Connor McDavid indefinitely after the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft fractured his left clavicle Tuesday in a 4-2 win against the Philadelphia Flyers.

McDavid had surgery Wednesday and will be out months, Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli said.

"Connor is such a special player at such a young age, that it's disappointing," Chiarelli said. "Today feels like a loss, where we won last night, but it feels like a loss. But we'll get by it. We have a good staff here, we have good players, and we do have a little momentum here and we'll build on that."

McDavid was injured with 1:44 remaining in the second period when he hit the end boards with Flyers defensemen Brandon Manning and Michael Del Zotto.

"What's important is just to move forward," Chiarelli said. "We're going to be missing him for a while and we have good players and we're getting a good player back (forward Jordan Eberle). Teams suffer catastrophic injuries and teams figure it out. It's something that the team, the guys, have to step up. They will miss Connor, but he will be back. He'll be like a trade acquisition when he comes back, which will be nice, and we move on."

Eberle is expected to return to the lineup next week after sustaining a shoulder injury on Sept. 29 in a preseason game against the Arizona Coyotes.

Chiarelli said he spoke to McDavid after the game and tried to comfort the young player.

"There was an 18-year-old after the game that was very upset and had a significant injury to his shoulder," Chiarelli said. "He didn't have much to say; he was upset and he loves to play the game and he won't be playing it for a while. As a player, he's done a lot of things. These are tough injuries. The silver lining is that he's young and he's a strong kid, mentally and physically. He's still developing, so he'll probably come back even stronger. My experience with these significant injuries with younger players is that they come back stronger."

McDavid's injury occurred on a shorthanded rush down the left wing. He took a shot and lost an edge, hitting the boards. McDavid skated off the ice on his own, holding his shoulder, and went to the dressing room at the second intermission.

"It's a hockey play; you can watch it 100 times and there is nothing dirty about it," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. "When the pile of three went down, it was self-survival. All three of them were in a dangerous situation with the boards coming at them very quick. It's very clear now, that if you go back and watch it and slow it down, that he caught a rut or lost an edge and he went down. I don't think there was anything malicious about it. It happens."

McDavid had five goals and seven assists in 13 games for Edmonton this season. On Monday, he was named NHL Rookie of the Month for October.

"It just [stinks]," Oilers left wing Taylor Hall said. "He's a guy that was really coming on for us. Personally, and as a team, we were really feeling him in our lineup and it was just bad timing all around. He's a guy that's going to fight through it and he's going to come back strong, but that doesn't negate the fact that we're going to be without a great player and a great kid for a long time."

Edmonton was awarded the opportunity to select McDavid by winning the NHL Draft Lottery in April, giving the Oilers the first pick for the fourth time in six years. They have not qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs since losing Game 7 of the 2006 Final to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Hall (No. 1 in 2010) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (No. 1 in 2011) each sustained significant shoulder injuries early in his career.

"That's just the way it goes," Hall said. "I hope all the injuries we're getting out of the way now, so that when we're in contention for playoffs or Cup Finals berths or whatever, I hope they are not around then."

After being in the NHL for a month, McDavid leaves a large hole in the Oilers lineup.

"Last night we all knew what was going on and we knew that [McDavid's injury] was bad and we came out in the third period and played well and dealt with some adversity," Hall said. "It's not going to be easy by any means. Everyone has to chip in 5 or 10 percent more, but you're not going to make up Connor's skill. There are only a few players in the world that have that skill set. Collectively, we're going to have to be better defensively and maybe change our game a little bit."

Edmonton is expected to put forward Leon Draisaitl into McDavid's spot between left wing Benoit Pouliot and Nail Yakupov.

Draisaitl was the No. 3 pick by Edmonton in the 2014 NHL Draft and was playing on the top line with Hall and Nugent-Hopkins after being recalled from Bakersfield of the American Hockey League on Oct. 29.

"It's very unfortunate, a young guy like him, the way he's been playing and the way he's been in the dressing room, it's too bad," Draisaitl said. "We all hope he's back as soon as possible. You don't want that to happen to anybody, it doesn't matter if a spot opens up or not. Whatever happens or whatever the line combinations are going to be, that's up to the coaches and for us players, it's just to go out there and do the job."

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