EDMONTON, AB - A familiar face was back on the ice during Thursday's practice.
Oscar Klefbom participated in his first full practice since suffering a hand injury on Dec 11 against the Colorado Avalanche.
"It feels really good to be back on the ice with the guys," said Klefbom following the team's first skate after the break. "Spending some time with them means a lot. It's been a long wait and I can't wait to play some games here now."
The 25-year-old is expected to fly with the team on Friday afternoon for their upcoming two-game road trip. The rearguard can make his return to the lineup as early as Saturday when the Oilers take on the Philadelphia Flyers.
"There's still another 32 games and a lot of points to play for," explained Klefbom. "I'm really excited to get in there and help the guys. We're going for the playoffs, obviously.
"It's going to take some time getting used to the timing for sure. It's going to be an adjustment but I'm looking forward to it."
Video: RAW | Oscar Klefbom 2019.01.31
Klefbom was averaging a team-high 25:25 TOI per game before being sidelined with the injury - the fifth-highest total in the league this season. With three goals and 12 assists this season (31 games), the defenseman was making an impact on both sides of the puck.
"I was playing pretty good and the team was playing pretty good when I got hurt. But there's nothing I can do about that. Stuff like this happens, so now I'm just looking forward to it. I'm really strong mentally right now."
Added Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot of Klefbom's nearing return: "it's huge getting him back in the lineup. He was our workhorse before he got hurt with how much he calms the play down out there and what he does for our powerplay.
"He was playing the best hockey of his career before he got hurt in my opinion."
For Oilers Head Coach Ken Hitchcock, Klefbom's return will serve as a supporting block for defensive partner and Swede Adam Larsson. Before the All-Star break and CBA bye-week, Larsson gave an honest assessment of his play.
"This is what Klefbom does," said Hitchcock. "What a huge difference (it will be) for Larsson. Klefbom is just solid in everything he does but there was a huge difference on the ice in Larsson (when Klefbom got hurt). That's the big plus. We get a helluva pair back.
"Hopefully, that's in Philadelphia or Montreal."
Video: RAW | Ken Hitchcock 2019.01.31