Edmonton Oilers centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins skated with his team at practice this morning for the first time since going down with a rib injury in January.
The 24-year-old was on pace for career highs in goals and points before suffering the injury after taking a hit from Vegas Golden Knights defenceman Brayden McNabb in a January 14th contest. Originally, the man they call Nuge was expected to miss 5-6 weeks with the injury. This Saturday will officially mark six weeks since Nuge’s injury was diagnosed.
With the Oilers all but out of the playoff race, does it make sense to rush Nugent-Hopkins back into the lineup? Why not let him rest and heal up properly? It’s no secret that the youngster has struggled with injury throughout the course of his young career, so why risk making things worse? With 16 goals and 31 points in 46 games this season, Nugent-Hopkins certainly seems to have regained his confidence, so again, why risk hurting his confidence if he has to play through pain and injury?
For what it’s worth, Oilers head coach Todd McLellan all but confirmed that Nugent-Hopkins won’t be back in the team’s lineup until at least next month, calling him a “March player.”
Meanwhile, Nugent-Hopkins continues to be at the center of trade rumours in Edmonton as we draw closer to the NHL's February 26th trade deadline. The most recent rumour, courtesy of TSN's Travis Yost, has Nugent-Hopkins heading East in exchange for Ottawa Senators sniper Mike Hoffman.
Fair deal? The Oilers certainly need scoring help on the wing, but young center like The Nuge don't exactly grow on trees.