Kurtis MacDermid has been suspended eight games for the Erie Otters as they head into game 2 against the London Knights on Friday.
Standing at six foot five, MacDermid is one of the allowed overagers on Erie’s OHL roster. Signed in 2012 as an undrafted free agent by the Los Angeles Kings, the 21-year old right shot defenseman split his major junior career between the Owen Sound Attack and the Otters (where he’s been for the last two seasons). He was suspended following this hit to London Knights forward and captain Max Domi, which held Domi out of a chunk of the game and will hold him out of Friday night’s tilt.
At the time of the hit, MacDermid was awarded a five minute major and game misconduct; the official ruling was an illegal check to the head. Erie will be ineligible to get him back in the lineup until at least the next round; if the loss of Domi and fellow injured forward Mitch Marner proves too much for London and results in an Erie sweep, he could be held out for the next two rounds.
In addition to MacDermid’s suspension, though, 19-year-old forward Mason Marchment has been suspended indefinitely following his collision with Marner, which occurred in the same game. Marchment is the cousin of fellow Otters skater Jake Marchment, who has eight points in five post-season games. Mason Marchment is draft eligible in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
MacDermid has been called for head collisions before — a casualty of being significantly taller than other on-ice opponents and not controlling hits accordingly — but more importantly, both he and Marchment have served to provide significant bulk (and, in MacDermid’s case, veteran experience) on an extremely promising but young Otters roster. Erie will be tasked with playing a much more fast-paced but unprotected game; as MacDermid has developed into a physical on-ice protector over his major junior career, the Otters will likely need a bit of adjusting at first.
For the Knights, though, they’ve lost their biggest one-two punch — both Domi and Marner were top scorers for London, both in the regular season and the playoffs so far (Marner leads the OHL in scoring with 16 points). The next few games will be a test to see if the team’s top secondary scorers — center Christian Dvorak and alternate captain Matt Rupert — are able to fill in the gaps and keep the team in it. Their biggest obstacle here could be Rupert’s temper — he’s a crash-and-bang player to start — but if these two and defenseman Julius Bergman are able to hold things together, the games without Domi or Marner won’t be complete blowouts.
It’s likely that tempers are already flaring; for draft eligibles like Connor McDavid and Dylan Strome and top rookie players like Nicolas DeBrincat, staying out of harm’s way is likely the best way to play.