EdmontonOilers.com is checking in with Oilers players and prospects in our Roster Reboot series as they discuss their summer activities and gear up for the 2019-20 season.
EDMONTON, AB - It wasn't the off-season Connor McDavid was used to.
Rather than getting a full summer of rest and preparation for the upcoming National Hockey League campaign, the Oilers Captain was subjected to rehabbing the leg injury he sustained in the final game of the 2018-19 regular season.
It occurred in the second period of the Battle of Alberta. McDavid, headed for the net, rushed past Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano but was tripped by the blueliner, causing the 22-year-old to crash into then-Flames netminder - and now Oilers keeper - Mike Smith's post.
Video: AUDIO | Connor McDavid Interview 08.26.19
McDavid suffered a torn PCL and has focused on recovering for when Oilers Training Camp begins in September. He hasn't experienced any setbacks during the process and assured media in Toronto that he's been "making progress every day."
"It's been different," the centre, speaking about the past few months treating the injury, told reporters. "It's taking a lot of time but it's been good. We're just working hard to get to Camp and we're focused on that."
McDavid did not participate in on-ice sessions at some of the annual summer camps he attends but confirmed he returned to the ice a few months ago and continued training with former NHLer Gary Roberts.
But No. 97 wants to return at 100 percent.
"It's coming back together and everything like that but ultimately, you don't want to come back too early," McDavid said. "Make sure it's fully healed and that you're not going to get hurt again. I'm not too worried about that, either."
Video: Top 10 plays of 2018-19: McDavid
The 2015 first-overall selection established a new career-high in points with 116 last year after recording his second straight 41-goal campaign. The star forward has increased his offensive output every season and tops his draft class with 372 points in 287 games (128G, 244A) - heading Sabres captain Jack Eichel by 113.
McDavid will now lead a newly-configured Oilers roster after off-season changes were made to the front office and player personnel.
Ken Holland was appointed Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager in May and Dave Tippett was named Head Coach just weeks after. Holland, to provide some competition within the Oilers lineup at Camp, inked forwards Joakim Nygard, Markus Granlund, Tomas Jurco, Josh Archibald and Gaëtan Haas.
The Oilers General Manager also re-signed 22-goal scorer Alex Chiasson, traded Milan Lucic to Calgary for James Neal and brought in the aforementioned Smith to help incumbent goaltender Mikko Koskinen backstop the club.
"We have so many new players," McDavid said. "We have lots of competition at Camp. It's going to be whoever steps up and takes a job. I don't know who it will be. It doesn't really matter, as long as they can play and are good to go.
"I'm excited about the new additions and excited about where the young guy are at."
While it was difficult for McDavid to see his former teammate Lucic become a member of Edmonton's provincial rival, the captain's impressed with Neal's work ethic this off-season.
Video: McDavid edges out Crosby for top spot on list
"Nealer's got a lot of upside," McDavid said. "He's a guy who's won a lot in this League. He's scored a lot in this League. He had a down year last year but he's training up at Gary (Roberts' High Performance Training) and he's working as hard as I've ever seen him work."
And after witnessing the St. Louis Blues go from dead last in the League in January to Cup champions in June, McDavid believes any team can claim Lord Stanley.
"There's so much parity in the League," he said. "When you look at each and every night, it's not a guarantee that any team is going to win. They (St. Louis) go from last to winning the Cup. That says a lot about them and a lot about our League. Turnarounds can happen quickly and that's what we're hoping for.
"I would say probably the hottest team in the second half won. That's what happens. You need to peak at the right time."