Whitney back on blades

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:04 AM ET

EDMONTON - Ryan Whitney may be itching to get back in the lineup, but he’s not willing to risk further injury to his foot by rushing it.

The Edmonton Oilers defenceman skated briefly on Saturday in the team’s first on-ice session of training camp before heading off to take part in some off-ice conditioning drills.

“That was the plan going in, it’ll probably be like that for a week, 30-40 minutes on the ice,” Whitney said. “They’d rather have me wishing I could stay out there longer than thinking I have to get off because it’s been too long.

“I could have stayed out there (Saturday), but for the first seven days it’ll be 30 to 40 minutes and then I’ll be ready to go.”

Whitney has not played since December, forced to undergo season-ending surgery on his right foot. At the time, he was having one of the best seasons of his career with two goals, 25 assists and a plus-13 rating.

“For the first 20-30 minutes it feels great, but then when it gets tired, it gets really sore,” he said. “It’s about strengthening it, endurance wise and making it stronger. The pain doesn’t come until it gets tired and worn down and right now, that’s 30-40 minutes in.”

There is no timeline on when Whitney will be 100% and when he’ll start logging the minutes of a No. 1 defenceman.

“My goal is to get two or three exhibition games,” Whitney said. “If it doesn’t happen, it’s not the end of the world, but that’s where I want to be.

“After not playing for half the season, it would be tough to hop into the first game of the regular season or a week into the regular season, you need some warm-up games.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

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