Jordan Eberle has put in the time, passed the test and is ready to get back into the lineup.
The Edmonton Oilers rookie is expected to play when the team takes on the St. Louis Blues Friday, in the first of a three-game road trip.
They’ll move on to face the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday and Nashville Predators Monday.
“I feel ready, I felt good in practice (Thursday),” said Eberle. “It’s obviously the coach’s decision to see if he wants to put me in.”
Eberle, 20, has been out of the lineup since Jan. 1 when he rolled an ankle against the Calgary Flames. A few days later the rookie winger had to be rushed to hospital and was forced to undergo an appendectomy.
In total, Eberle has missed 13 games. It’s the first time in his career the Regina native has been out an extended period of time due to injury.
“It’s tough to have to watch and not contribute,” Eberle said. “I definitely think I’ll have a little more jump when I come back.
“The ankle was tougher to get over than the appendix. It was almost good that I got the appendix done when I was hurt. The ankle can be a nagging injury, but I think I’ve taken care of it enough that it’s not going to get re-injured.”
Eberle appeared ready to make his return Wednesday against the Los Angeles Kings, but head coach Tom Renney was not satisfied with the results of the fitness test he requires every player to go through when coming back from an injury.
The test essentially measures a player’s recovery rate and if it doesn’t measure up to the coach’s standard, the player is not allowed to return.
“We did another after and I passed it,” Eberle said. “I know he saw that and he saw me do a little bit in the practice. I know that he feels I’m ready now and hopefully I get in.”
Prior to getting hurt, Eberle was challenging for the league lead in rookie scoring with nine goals and 14 assists on the season.
He has since fallen off the pace.
“It’s really nice to see some of our guys coming back now, he’s my roommate and he’s been pretty down lately not being able to play the games,” said Oilers winger Taylor Hall. “You can see his spirits are a little bit lifted right now and he can’t wait to get back. I think the whole team can’t wait to have him back.”
The biggest concerns for Eberle coming back will be his timing and his game fitness.
“It’s funny how it works. Sometimes when you get injured all you’re doing is working out and skating, so sometimes you’re in better shape when you come back,” Eberle said. “It all depends on how you feel in the game, though. There’s a difference between workout shape and game shape. It’s a little different when you get on the ice. We’ll see what happens (Friday).”
The Oilers are hoping to turn their fortunes around on this latest road trip, having collected just four wins in their last 20 games.
They’re hoping Eberle is able to provide that bit of extra offence the team has been lacking.
“We’re a team that had a little bit of injury trouble this year, especially to some key guys,” Hall said. “Getting Ebs back is really going to be good for our offence, especially our power play. He’s a good guy around the room, the guys like him, he’s good to hang around with and he’ll really inject a little spark for us down the stretch.”