With the new season upon us, here is all the latest news in respect of the Edmonton Oilers players currently dealing with injuries.
The NHL season is arguably the most physically demanding of all of the major professional sports in North America, especially when you factor in how many games they play. With this, comes the ongoing risk of injuries for the Oilers and the rest of the league.
While the 2023-24 regular season hasn’t actually started yet, there are a number of Oilers players currently contending with injuries. Here’s a review of the latest information concerning each of the team’s walking wounded:
The Oilers pulled a masterstroke in trading for Mattias Ekholm last season, who immediately had a positive influence on the blue line. He’s expected to be even more influential and important in the 2023-24 campaign.
Ekholm missed the beginning of training camp, due to a hip flexor injury. However, the official line has always been that he would be ready for the beginning of the regular season.
This stance has only changed in the last couple of days, with the 33-year-old admitting on Friday his injury has been lingering longer than anyone expected it to. In this respect, it’s not worth rushing him back just yet, especially with the Oilers needing him as fit and healthy as possible as the season progresses.
Ryan McLeod took positive steps last season, as he made the third line centre position his own. In fact he progressed so much, he even saw some playing time in the top six.
As such, there was some concern after the 24-year-old missed practice time during training camp, due to an undisclosed injury. As thing stand McLeod is officially listed as day-to-day and he did return to practice on Friday.
As per Jason Gregor of Sports 1440 Edmonton, the expectation has always been that McLeod would be ready for opening night in Vancouver. However, nothing should be taken for granted at this stage, with the Oilers quite rightly continuing to take a cautious approach with him.
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While having some fine seasons during his 16 years in the NHL, Sam Gagner has never lived up to being selected sixth overall by the Oilers in 2007. And yet here he is again, for his third tenure in Edmonton.
The Oilers sent out a PTO to Gagner in the summer, which he duly accepted. The only problem was he’d previously undergone surgery on both hips and has been limited to just practicing during training camp, i.e. not allowed to take part in any preseason games.
The 24-year-old will be reevaluated this month, with the possibility of being optioned to Bakersfield. At the very least, he will provide a veteran voice and leadership to the younger players in the organisation.
As reported by The Athletic‘s Daniel Nugent-Bowman, Ryan Fanti entered training camp with a hip injury. As things stand, the goaltender’s status is considered month-to-month.
In the grand scheme of things, Fanti’s absence is not of particular importance at this time. He faces a challenge from Olivier Rodrigue and Calvin Pickard, to even see playing time in the AHL during the coming months.
In this respect, the 2023-24 campaign is an important one for the Thunder Bay, Ontario native, who needs to get back on the ice as soon as possible. While he does have size and skill, he needs to prove himself as he’s set to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season.
Of the four players listed, Ekholm and McLeod are clearly the most important ones. More generally speaking the Oilers overall find themselves in relatively good health, as they prepare for what could be a special season.