The Edmonton Oilers received some promising news yesterday when center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins took to the ice in what was deemed an informal skate with the club. Not only did Nugent-Hopkins look good out there according to Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal, but the shoulder held up for the 20-year old who underwent surgery back in April. Now all the Oilers and their fans have to do is wait and hope that number 93 is ready to roll come opening night on October 1st.
The Oilers need Nugent-Hopkins for the depth that he brings to the center position. Still considered to be somewhat of a hole on the roster, especially without Nugent-Hopkins, the Oilers have toyed with the idea of using Taylor Hall at center for the start of the season until Nugent-Hopkins is ready.
The surgically repaired shoulder, similar to what Hall went through two years ago, could have Nugent-Hopkins on the shelf for the start of the season, especially when you consider the long-term damage and effect if he was rushed back too soon.
No timetable has been set for his immediate return so it would be a safe bet to think that we won’t see Nugent-Hopkins in a gameday Oilers uniform until mid-October at the earliest. The Oilers can still solidify their center concerns between now and then, or they could rely on their youth and prospects to fill the gap until Nugent-Hopkins is ready. Either way, a healthy Nugent-Hopkins will only help this team this year so if he misses a handful of games at the start of the year, so be it.
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