After a little over a month on the sidelines because of a shoulder injury, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is finally ready to return. The Calder Trophy frontrunner will join the Edmonton Oilers when they face the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.
Before falling due to a rut on the ice on Jan. 3, Nugent-Hopkins had never been significantly injured while playing hockey, so returning after a month is all new territory for him.
“I’m very excited, it’s been a long time,” said Nugent-Hopkins. “I can’t really let my emotions get too high, because it’ll probably take over my game. I’m just going to try and stay even keel and just try to play.”
Because of Sam Gagner’s stunning eight-point performance on Thursday, Nugent-Hopkins’ return will not break up the top line, which also includes Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall. Instead, Nugent-Hopkins will skate on the second line with Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky.