The NHL Depart of Player Safety announced Friday that Edmonton winger Zack Kassian has been suspended seven games for kicking Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak in the chest, blade first, during the first period of Thursday's game.
"While we agree with Kassian that this play is not malicious, any player that intentionally uses the blade of his skate to contact an opponent, no matter the amount of force used, is putting his opponent in immediate risk of serious injury," the NHL said.
As a repeat offender, Kassian's seven-game suspension will cost him $166,463.41 in salary. Since the suspension is longer than five games, Kassian is eligible to appeal it.
Cernak was briefly sitting on Kassian and Kassian's teammate Josh Archibald. But as Kassian pushed himself free, he aimed the kick at Cernak to get Cernak off his teammate.
"He was holding my leg, it was reactionary, I was just trying to get him off me, kick him off me. I was just trying to get my foot loose," Kassian told reporters after the Oilers' 3–1 loss to the Lightning. "If I kicked him hard, I think he would have flew back or the ref would have called a penalty."
"I asked what is wrong with him because that's not the right play, what you do on the ice," Cernak said. "He didn't say [anything]."
Kassian was already suspended for two games in January after engaging in a fight with Calgary's Matthew Tkachuk, who tried to skate away from the scuffle. On Friday, the NHL announced Kassian was offered an in-person hearing for kicking Cernak. The date and time for the hearing have not been decided yet.
He was also suspended three preseason games and five regular-season games for high sticking Sam Gagner in September 2013.
Kassian, the No. 13 pick in the 2009 NHL draft, has 14 goals and 16 assists this season. He's logged more than 170 points throughout his 10-year NHL career.