The Oilers captain requested his teammates return to Alberta two weeks before the start of training camp to participate in informal skates, according to NHL.com's Derek Van Diest.
“I think is says a lot about where our group is at, everybody is dialed in, everybody is super-motivated, everybody is determined and everybody is in it together,” McDavid said this week at Commonwealth Stadium.
“I think that's kind of the message I've been feeling just with guys wanting to come back and make sure we're all together for a couple of weeks before camp.”
The first skate took place on Wednesday at Rogers Place, and will continue until training camp officially begins. The Oilers open their preseason slate against the Winnipeg Jets on Sept. 24.
“I think it's always good to train and skate together,” McDavid continued. “I think just getting that camaraderie back is always a good thing; making sure everybody is in a good place come training camp is important. Just seeing a couple of guys here over the last couple of days, I think everybody's had a great summer, everybody looks great, and we came back ready to go.”
The Oilers have been knocking on the door the last two seasons; they were swept by the eventual champion Colorado Avalanche in the 2022 Western Conference Final, and were defeated by the Vegas Golden Knights in the second round last May.
The Knights went on to defeat the Dallas Stars in six games, and dispatched the Florida Panthers in five to win their first ever Stanley Cup championship.
But with most of the roster intact from last season, the Oilers are good enough to beat anyone in the Western Conference. The hard part is proving it come playoff time.
“I feel a sense of urgency every single year, it doesn't matter about contracts or anything like that,” McDavid asserted. “I feel like our opportunity is here now…I feel really good about our group.”
Connor McDavid and his Edmonton Oilers kick off the 2023-24 NHL season on Oct. 11.