Ready Arnott?

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:40 PM ET

NASHVILLE -- A five-year deal in his pocket, Jason Arnott had the new start he was looking for in Tennessee.

What a start it was, until he was felled by a knee injury.

With 16 points in his first 19 games with the Nashville Predators, Arnott was going great until Nov. 20 against the Blue Jackets. He got twisted up and caught a rut in the ice in Columbus.

10 GAMES ON THE SHELF

Now, 10 games later, Arnott was talking yesterday about being ready to go when the Edmonton Oilers come calling tonight. While it might just be talk or wishful thinking - yesterday was Arnott's first full practice in equipment since having arthroscopic surgery to repair damaged cartilage - he's getting close.

"It's still fairly early, but it feels all right," said Arnott, who many thought would be out until the New Year.

"I didn't expect to be skating with the guys at this point, but I'm grateful for it.

"Recovering and going through rehab is pretty boring, especially when the guys are on the road."

PREDS HIS FOURTH CLUB

Arnott, 34, inked a deal with the Predators following four years with the Dallas Stars and five more with the New Jersey Devils after playing his first five NHL seasons in Oilers silks.

Brought in along with J.P. Dumont to bolster a lineup that already boasted Paul Kariya, Steve Sullivan and Scott Hartnell, Arnott was supposed to be the piece to the puzzle that put the Predators over the top.

Now, after the promising start, the big centre from Collingwood, Ont., is just trying to get his timing and his legs back.

"You don't want to come back too early and hurt it again," said Arnott, who began skating on his own a week ago.

"I felt a little wobbly out there, but, for the most part, the knee felt pretty good."

Arnott didn't look ready to play tonight when he skated yesterday.

He's still moving gingerly and getting used to how his knee feels now.

Word is he'll be a game-time decision tonight, but it seems more likely he won't be ready to play until Thursday.

"I'm a little rusty," he admitted. "We'll see how it reacts and how I feel in the morning. There's a chance.

"I'm going to see how it reacts to being on the ice for a long period of time. I haven't been on this long since I got injured."

AROUND THE RINK: Aside from Arnott being close to returning, forwards Steve Sullivan, who tweaked a groin on the last road trip, and David Legwand, out with a hand injury, skated yesterday and could dress tonight ... After three games under glass, Oilers D Matt Greene yesterday shed the visor he's been wearing to protect the broken nose he suffered in a scrap with Vancouver's Tyler Bouck Dec. 4.


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