Dmitry Kulikov facing suspension for hit on Conor Sheary.

Dmitry Kulikov facing suspension for hit on Conor Sheary.

Dmitry Kulikov finds himself on the wrong side of NHL Player Safety after a hit to Conor Sheary.

Jonathan Larivee

Florida Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov has found himself on the wrong side of the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety.

In an official announcement on Sunday, the league revealed that Kulikov is now facing a suspension for a hit he delivered to Tampa Bay Lightning forward Conor Sheary over the weekend. The league has deemed the hit an "illegal check to the head" and as a result it seems extremely likely that Kulikov will in fact be suspended for some length of time.

I suspect that the Panthers' veteran blue liner will be looking at a relatively mild punishment here given that this wasn't exactly a predatory hit. There's no question that there was head contact on the play, but Kulikov did appear to be trying to target Sheary's shoulder and did in fact make contact with the shoulder prior to the head contact.

Unfortunately Sheary was either reaching down for the puck or was falling at the time Kulikov moved in for the hit, resulting in a significant blow to Sheary's head.

I suspect as a result of these mitigating factors we are looking at something on the low end, perhaps in the range of 1-2 games, but when it comes to NHL Player Safety... your guess is as good as mine.