Nugent-Hopkins has been cleared by the team's doctors and is fit enough to return, according to coach Dallas Eakins. The Oilers' top centerman underwent shoulder surgery in April to repair a torn labrum, which was projected to keep him out until November. Compounded with the injury to Sam Gagner, the team was left thin up the middle, which required Taylor Hall to move to center.
Now, Eakins will need to decide whether to move Hall back to the wing to complete a grouping with Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle or to keep him at center.
"It's very exciting. It's been a long recovery and I can't wait to play on Monday." @RNH_93, says his strength is back to 100%— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) October 4, 2013
Over the span of 40 games last season, Nugent-Hopkins recorded 24 points (four goals and 20 assists) after a 52-point finish (18 goals and 34 assists) over 62 games in 2011-12. He expressed that he hopes to have a rebound year this season.
"I thought offensively I could have produced more last year but I still definitely want to be committed to a two-way game." @RNH_93— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) October 4, 2013
Edmonton will return to action on Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks. In total, Nugent-Hopkins will have only missed two games.