EDMONTON – One of the Edmonton Oilers’ key pieces will be back on the ice Friday night.
Jordan Eberle, who’s been out of the lineup since injuring his shoulder during preseason, is back at full health.
Eberle will start Friday’s game against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins on the first line.
“I’m excited, even a little nervous for the first game, which is funny,” said Eberle. “But I’m excited to finally get my season going.”
Oilers forward Jordan Eberle out 4-6 weeks with a shoulder injury
Connor McDavid out for ‘months’ due to broken left clavicle
Eberle was hurt in the Sept. 29 game against the Arizona Coyotes, and has missed all of the team’s 13 games.
READ MORE: Oilers forward Jordan Eberle out 4-6 weeks with a shoulder injury
While every player wants to be 100 per cent effective after coming back from injury, Eberle is keeping his expectations realistic.
“It’s tough. I’d like to think I can jump in and be at the top of my game, but it’s probably gonna take a bit,” he said after practice on Thursday.
“I think with the tempo of practices we have and the kind of staff we have, they’ve made it a lot easier to get as ready as I can be.”
READ MORE: Connor McDavid out for months due to broken left clavicle
Eberle’s return, along with the recent injury to Connor McDavid, means that the Oilers’ first two lines will see a few changes for Friday’s game. Eberle will take the wing on the team’s first line, along with team scoring leader Taylor Hall.
Recent AHL call-up Leon Draisaitl will take the first line centre position. Since being called up from Bakersfield, the 20-year-old Draisaitl has seven points in three games.
READ MORE: Leon Draisaitl scores twice, Oilers come from behind to beat Habs 4-3
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will centre the second line, along with Benoit Pouliot and Nail Yakupov.
Oiler coach Todd McLellan is looking forward to having Eberle back on the ice.
“He’s gonna bring some experience back in.
“When players return, they have an energy level that’s maybe a little bit higher than the others who have been grinding it out, so he’s going to have that little spark in him, that energy.”
Eberle will put in time on the team’s power play, which coach McLellan says will benefit from having an experienced player with good positional skill.
“We have ‘long’ skill right now; we have lots of speed through the neutral zone, rush-type skill. Jordan’s very good in tight areas, cycling, handling pucks, making little plays.”