Ryan Nugent-Hopkins injury: Oilers F will return against Devils

USA TODAY Sports

Originally projected to miss the first month of the season, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be available for Monday night's game against the New Jersey Devils.

Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will return to the starting lineup against the New Jersey Devils on Monday night, the team announced on Friday afternoon.

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.

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.

Edmonton will return to action on Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks. In total, Nugent-Hopkins will have only missed two games.

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