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Oilers unsure if Nugent-Hopkins will be ready for opener

Aug 3, 2013, 7:15 PM EDT

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins AP

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins underwent shoulder surgery in April to repair a torn labrum. The injury had plagued him for years, so there’s reason to be hopeful that he’ll be better than ever when he returns.

The question now is when that return will be.

Nugent-Hopkins initially expressed confidence that he would be “good to go” for the start of the season. The Edmonton Oilers remain upbeat about his recovery, but Oilers GM Craig MacTavish isn’t about to make any promises.

“All things are very optimistic now … but the timeline before was that he’d be ready Nov. 1, in a very pessimistic timeline, and optimistically he’d be ready to start the year,” MacTavish told the Edmonton Journal. “We’re going to stay with that and let his progression dictate when he’s ready. We won’t be hurrying him, that’s for sure.”

MacTavish conceded that being without Nugent-Hopkins would create a big hole in their lineup, but it would also be an opportunity for some of the Oilers’ young forwards.

“[Mark] Arcobello will get a good look, Andrew Miller, Will Acton, Anton Lander. I’m sure we’ll be able to offset Nuge’s absence in the short term.”

Nugent-Hopkins had 52 points in 62 games as a rookie and then 24 points in 40 contests last season.

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