The Department of Player Safety announced that San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson will have a hearing tomorrow for an illegal check to the head on the Los Angeles Kings’ Austin Wagner during the second period of Saturday’s game. Karlsson has never been suspended in his career and was fined just once for a slash in 2012.
While there was no penalty on the ice, Wagner was forced to leave the game and never returned. While there was some contact to the head, it might be more challenging for the Department of Player Safety to determine if the hit was intentional and meant for the head. Wagner and Karlsson also had an issue earlier in the shift, which could suggest that there may have been payback involved, something the league will factor into their decisions as well.
- As for Wagner, the 21-year-old left the game not long after the hit and a representative of the team referred to him out with an upper-body injury. The hope is that he isn’t out long, if at all. The team is already without a number of key players, including Trevor Lewis, Alec Martinez, Carl Hagelin, Jonny Brodzinski and Dion Phaneuf. However, Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times writes that Wagner is expected to join the team for their road trip to Las Vegas for Sunday’s game against the Golden Knights, although that doesn’t mean he will be cleared to play.
- Speaking of the Vegas Golden Knights, David Schoen of the Las Vegas Review-Journal writes that defenseman Colin Miller remains day-to-day with an upper-body injury after missing his second straight game. He, however, has not been placed on injured reserve. However, Miller is expected to be back soon. Miller has been critical to the team’s offense since the return of Nate Schmidt. Miller has two goals and six assists since Schmidt returned from a suspension in mid-November.
- Sportsnet’s Mark Spector writes that Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi has gotten a second life with new head coach Ken Hitchcock as the struggling 20-year-old has gone from a exiled player in the AHL to a first-line winger next to Connor McDavid. However, the scribe writes one of the biggest challenges that Puljujarvi has struggled with is the language barrier, considering he knew no English when he come over to North America two years ago. “It’s more challenging for a Euro player who’s played in Europe to just come over and play in the NHL,” said Hitchcock. “What happens is, when you’re not comfortable in the lifestyle, you kind of stay to yourself. So you’re worried about how you fit in, you’re worried about the length of the season, you’re worried about a lot of things. Now, we’re starting to see his natural personality.”