The Buffalo Sabres will be without Jack Eichel after the NHL Department of Player Saftey issued a suspension on Saturday. Eichel landed an illegal check to the head of Colorado Avalanche forward Carl Soderberg on Friday.
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Buffalo Sabres Jack Eichel Suspended
The Sabres met the Avalanche Friday night in an uncharacteristically physical game. Buffalo has been taking a beating lately. The two teams traded some big hits. In the end, Eichel’s garnered the attention of the Department of Player Safety.
After absorbing a late hit from Av’s defenceman Nikita Zadorov in the first period, Eichel responded. As the second period wrapped up, he connected with a hard hit to the head of Colorado’s Soderberg. Ultimately, he earned a two-minute minor penalty for his troubles.
Soderberg was reaching for a loose puck as Eichel skated toward him with full force. After seeing the replays, it appeared that Eichel intentionally lowered his shoulder to make contact with Soderberg’s jaw.
The play is reminiscent of the actions of Edmonton Oilers‘ captain Connor McDavid. McDavid was given a two-game suspension last month. He landed a hit to the head of New York Islanders‘ defenceman Nick Leddy.
Initially, Eichel stated he was not deliberately aiming for Soderberg’s head. However, the replay showed him shifting the position of his shoulder and altering the point of contact. Player Safety has notoriously been cracking down on hits where the main point of connection is the head. Eichel’s hit was deemed a clear violation of Rule 48 in the NHL’s playbook.
What This Means for the Future
This is Eichel’s first run-in with Player Safety. His suspension will last for two games. He will be eligible to return when the Sabres faceoff against the Carolina Hurricanes on March 16, 2019. During the suspension, he will forfeit $243,902.43. His salary is $10 million per season.
In 65 games this season, Eichel owns 25 goals and 47 assists for 72 total points.