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Poll: When Will Patrik Elias Play his First Game for the New Jersey Devils in 2009-10?

Today saw a bit of good news from both Gulitti and Chere. No, not that Mark Fraser was activated from IR and will play tomorrow night for the first time in the NHL since February 2007. Though I'm sure it's thrilling news for Fraser's family and friends (and perhaps the Pittsburgh offense). Today, Patrik Elias was evaluated on his recovery from preseason surgery to remove scar tissue from his groin. It went quite well. Per Chere, Lou has the word:

According to Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello, Elias won't have to return to the doctor again and should be on the ice practicing with the team soon.

"It's going to be very soon," Lamoriello said. "He went to Philadelphia, was examined and everything is on schedule. Everything is fine. He's going to be practicing with the team very soon."

So, Gulitti's speculating that Elias will return to practice on Monday and I'd have to think that would be the likely scenario. The Devils will have returned from Pittsburgh by then. Now, the next logical question is when will Elias return to play games for the Devils?

Keep in mind that Elias didn't go through training camp, he didn't go through preseason, and so he will be rusty when he does return. Yes, he's been skating for the past week or so, but that's not the same as a full practice or even remotely close to an actual game. Back when Elias had his surgery, he was listed to be out 3-6 weeks. The upcoming week would be the sixth week; however, I said then that expecting him back for Buffalo on Wednesday or Boston on Thursday wouldn't be likely. It definitely won't happen if he's just getting back to practice that week.

I doubt he takes the trip to Tampa Bay for next Saturday's game, but the week after may be more favorable. The Devils are off 3 days before playing Washington at the Rock that Wednesday (11/4) followed by the Islanders (11/6). Should Elias need even more time, three weeks from now is also a 3-game week with 2 home games (11/11 against Anaheim, 11/14 against Washington). That would fit in a lot better and be a lot more advantageous than practicing nearly a month and join the team in the midst of a road trip. Besides, practice alone won't eliminate all the rust in one's game. At some point, Elias just has to get back into action and get his groove back.

I'd like to know what your take on Elias' eventual return to the regular season. Do you think Elias will need a week of practice before getting into a game? Do you think he'll need 2 or 3 weeks of practice? Or do you think he can step right in? Feel free to vote in the poll, as well as leave additional comments about Elias.