Connor McDavid may return for Oilers in Heritage Classic

Oct 19, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 19, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Oilers are in desperate need of a boost and could well get one, with the return of captain Connor McDavid for Sunday’s Heritage Classic.

The Edmonton Oilers are floundering, with just one win in seven games and the second-worst record in the NHL as of Friday morning. This is a team desperate for some positive news, which might just be coming in the form of Connor McDavid.

As per Derek Van Diest of NHL.com, McDavid skated on Thursday. As a result, he has not been ruled out of Sunday’s Heritage Classic versus the Calgary Flames.

Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft discussed the matter with the media, following Thursday’s 3-0 loss to the New York Rangers. While he stopped short of providing an update regarding his captain’s availability, he said:

"“We have time before our next game, so we’ll see how he is (Friday). He skated today, and so I took that as a good sign that he had a good day.”"

While this sounds hopeful, you can of course take nothing for granted. Regardless, McDavid’s return would undoubtedly provide a boost for a floundering Oilers team.

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The Oilers have lost both games without the six-time All-Star and are on a four-game losing streak in general. In one respect they were playing below-par even with him in the lineup, but it certainly can’t hurt to have him back on the team.

McDavid is officially listed as having an upper-body injury. He appeared to suffer the injury during a tussle with Mark Scheifele, towards the end of the third period on Saturday night versus the Jets.

As a result, the five-time Art Ross Trophy winner did not return to action, in a game which the Oilers ultimately lost 3-2 in overtime. On the season he has eight points (two goals and six assists) in five games, but in truth has overall not been up to his usual standard thus far.

One factor which could influence if McDavid plays on Sunday, is the weather conditions. Woodcroft said:

"“I haven’t even thought like that just yet. I think for him, he knows his body better than anybody. We’ll see where he is tomorrow, I think he had a good day today. I wouldn’t rule it out, but I’m not saying he’s going to play or not play. We have some time here before Sunday’s game. We’ll see.”"

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In this respect, as much as the Oilers need McDavid back as soon as possible, he won’t be rushed to return too early. The team might be in a slump right now, but any potential short-term gain pales in comparison to the hopes of this season over the long-term.