Seattle Kraken defenseman Jamie Oleksiak has been suspended three games for an illegal check to the head of Washington Capitals defenseman Alexander Alexeyev.
The hit came midway through the second period of Friday’s game in Washington. Oleksiak was issued a match penalty by referees Kevin Pollock and Jon McIsaac.
The referees reviewed the play, confirming the match penalty call on the ice and tossing Oleksiak.
Alexeyev did not return to the game.
From the NHL’s Department of Player Safety:
Alexeyev skates the puck down the wall in the offensive zone as Oleksiak approaches from the net front. As Alexeyev moves the puck, Oleksiak finishes a high, hard check that makes the head the main point of contact on a check where such head contact was avoidable. This is an illegal check to the head.
It is important to note that both elements of the illegal check to the head rule are satisfied on this play.
First, the head is the main point of contact on this hit as Oleksiak’s shoulder makes forceful and direct contact with Alexeyev’s head and it is the head that absorbs the majority of the force of the check.
Second, the head contact on this play is avoidable. Oleksiak chooses an angle of approach that cuts across the front of Alexeyev’s body, missing his core and picking the head. If Oleksiak act wants to deliver this hit, he must stay low and choose an angle that leads to a full body check rather than one that makes the head the main point of contact.
The Kraken blueliner has been suspended once previously – also for an illegal check to the head – then with the Dallas Stars.
Oleksiak forfeits $74,594.58 in salary as a result of the ban. He’s eligible to return to action on December 18, when the Kraken host the Winnipeg Jets.