“He is ready to go,” Oilers head coach Todd McLellan announced Monday after McDavid skated in practice, centring a line between Jordan Eberle and Benoit Pouliot.
The 19-year-old rookie phenom will play his first game since he piled into the boards against the Philadelphia Flyers on Nov. 3. He has missed 37 games, almost half a season.
McDavid, who spent the last week practising with the Oilers’ Bakersfield Condors AHL team, was asked by reporters if he was nervous heading into just the 14th game of his NHL career.
“Anxious is probably the better word,” he said. “I’m excited. It feels like my first game all over again.”
He said he’s not going to let the injury play on his mind when the puck drops.
“The doctors wouldn’t let me play if I wasn’t 100 per cent,” he said. “They say it’s safe to play, so it’s safe to play.”
McDavid began the year averaging between 16 and 18 minutes a night but was above the 20 minute mark in his final three games before he went down against the Flyers.
He returns to a team that is still mathematically in the playoff hunt but is tied with Columbus for last overall in the league, with 43 points. The Oilers are 19-26-5, 10 points behind the Arizona Coyotes for the third and final playoff spot in the Pacific Division. They have 32 games to play.
The Oilers are on pace to tie the record set by the Florida Panthers for most consecutive seasons out of the playoffs at 10.