The Edmonton Oilers say star centre Connor McDavid will be out for the next two to three weeks with a quad injury, a setback expected to test the resilience of a team fighting to stay in the NHL playoff race.
Oilers general manager Ken Holland said McDavid’s left leg remained stiff and swollen in the days after he injured it Saturday in a game against Nashville, and an MRI on Monday revealed the quad injury.
That’s the same leg with the knee that McDavid badly injured late last season, slamming into a goalpost at high speed against Calgary, but Holland says the quad injury is completely separate.
“[It’s] totally unrelated to the [knee] injury that he had this summer,” Holland told reporters at Rogers Place on Tuesday.
“The good news I guess about having the MRI is not only did we see the quad injury, but the doctors had an opportunity to look at the injuries from this summer, and everything [with the knee] looks great.”
Any kind of surgery needed, Holland was asked.
“No, no, no, no, no, no,” he replied.
“He’s two to three weeks. That’s the normal timeline for this kind of injury. We’re hoping it can be a little less,” he said, declining to go into more detail on what’s wrong with the quad.
“It’s an injury significant enough that he’s going to miss games, but it’s not long term.
“We don’t expect ... that we’ll double back a week from now and find out it’s more serious. We know what it is. It’s a quad injury. It’s going to heal. It just needs some time for treatment.”
With the Oilers embarking on a three-game road trip this week, Holland said McDavid has flown to Toronto to rehab with his medical and training team, and will rejoin the Oilers in Edmonton a week from now.
The Oilers play host to Chicago Tuesday night, and Holland said he spoke to McDavid.
“He wants to be in the lineup tonight. He’s not happy he’s out. He wants to play. He understands these games are big. It’s a fun time of the year. He wants to be part of it.”
The 23-year-old McDavid was second in the NHL in points with 81 going into Tuesday’s play. He had 30 goals and 51 assists.
McDavid’s injury means even more opposition focus on Oilers centre Leon Draisaitl, who leads the league in points with 85, and will test a roster that is more balanced than past years, but remains overly reliant on its two marquee scorers.
Against Nashville, McDavid got tied up with Predators defenceman Dante Fabbro and slammed his knees into the end boards.
After the game, the injury was initially diagnosed as a bruise. McDavid practised briefly Monday and afterward told reporters, “It’s kind of like a charley horse, lower part of the quad, top of the knee. I’m just giving it an extra day.”
The Oilers are second in the Pacific Division heading into play Tuesday, but it’s tight. The top five teams in the division are within four points of each other.
Holland said the injury and tight playoff race may play a role in the moves he makes at the Feb. 24 trade deadline.
“The win-loss record is going to affect my thinking,” he said.
“We’ve got seven games before the deadline so certainly we’ve got to win some hockey games to continue to be in a position to do something.”
This is the third significant injury to McDavid in his NHL career.
He suffered a tear of the posterior cruciate ligament, a torn meniscus and cracked tibia in the last game of this past season against the Flames. McDavid decided against surgery and instead rehabbed it intensely all summer and was ready for the start of the 2019-20 campaign.
McDavid missed 37 games in his rookie year in 2015-16 when he broke his clavicle speeding toward the net against the Philadelphia Flyers, getting tangled up with two Flyer defencemen and crashing into the end boards.