Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson has been offered an in-person disciplinary hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety regarding his controversial hit on St. Louis Blues center Oskar Sundqvist — which could land him a suspension of at least six games.
Wilson was ejected Sunday for delivering an illegal check to the Sundqvist’s head, and Blues coach Mike Yeo told reporters afterward he expected his player to miss “a decent amount of time.”
Though Wilson can deny the meeting, this is the latest troubling incident for the Capitals winger, who signed a new six-year, $31 million deal in the offseason. Last season, he was suspended three separate times — sitting out two games in the preseason, four to start the regular season and three in the playoffs.
Wilson has tried to find the balance between retaining his physicality — a signature of his game — and abiding by the rules. He even went as far as to meet with George Parros, who oversees the league’s Department of Player Safety, last October to review what types of hits were, and were not, legal.
But Wilson’s efforts haven’t stopped him from landing in hot water. He served a three-game suspension in the second round of the playoffs after delivering a blindside hit to Zach Aston-Reese, leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins forward concussed and with a broken jaw.
On Sunday, Wilson caught Sundqvist off guard — slamming his shoulder into the winger’s head after Sundqvist fired off a shot. Wilson was immediately thrown out of the game and did not speak to reporters afterward.
By requesting an in-person hearing, the NHL can now suspend Wilson more than five games, the maximum if they hadn’t. Wilson’s status as a repeat offender is also likely to be taken into account for punishment.
The NHL has yet to set the specifics for the meeting, but the Capitals open their season Wednesday against the Boston Bruins.
If he is suspended, the Capitals would have to replace Wilson on the top line and find another winger who can play with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin.
Wilson is coming off his best season as a pro, scoring a career-high 14 goals while adding 21 assists.