The long road back took a positive twist on Friday, as Edmonton Oilers injured defenceman Andrej Sekera skated with his teammates before the Oilers game against New Jersey.

“It feels good to be out there with the guys, getting used to the rhythm again,” he said, leaking sweat after the workout. “Passing, shooting, skating-wise — it’s better with someone else than just the trainers.”

Sekera tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in Game 5 of Edmonton’s Round 2 series against Anaheim last spring. The injury came on a clean hit by Ryan Getzlaf just after Sekera had gained the centre line and dumped a puck into the Ducks zone.

“I just played the puck, got hit, and I felt a ‘snap.’ It wasn’t anything painful,” said the 31-year-old Slovak. “You dump the puck in, you get hit 100 times (like that). I guess my body was in a position where it couldn’t take the impact. It broke down.”

He had ACL surgery on May 18, so the fact Sekera got on the ice for a full practice before the six-month anniversary should be looked at as positive news.