Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Out "At Least Two Or Three Games", Gilbert Set To Return

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 02: Daniel Carcillo #13 of the Chicago Blackhawks boards Tom Gilbert #77 of the Edmonton Oilers at the United Center on January 2, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Tom Renney told the media yesterday that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is out of the lineup for "at least the next two or three games", but no other information is available for the short term. They are waiting on a further diagnosis to determine if Hopkins can play any additional games on the road trip, and will send him home if he doesn't improve. Rumors circulated that Hopkins was being sent back to Edmonton for evaluation by the Oilers' doctors, but that doesn't appear to be the case at this point.

Tom Gilbert, on the other hand, is set to return to the ice. Gilbert left the United Center in a large boot, but doesn't appear to be seriously injured as Renney indicated he would go for a light skate on Wednesday to see if he's ready to go. The "light skate" sounds suspiciously like Renney's fitness test, a test Ryan Whitney was able to pass.

Given the Oilers' history of rushing injured players back to the ice, there should be concern about Gilbert. He's been a rock on the top-pairing for four years now, and is their best defenseman by a wide margin. It would be a large mistake for management to risk his health on a lottery team they aren't willing to improve.

In other news, Daniel Carcillo will be suspended at least five games for his hit on Tom Gilbert, maybe more. The NHL announced today that Brendan Shanahan has offered an in-person hearing for Carcillo, which clears the way for a lengthy suspension, as Oilers' fans are well aware due to Andy Sutton's dirty play this season:

Chicago Blackhawks forward Dan Carcillo has been suspended indefinitely pending a hearing with the Department of Player Safety regarding his hit on Edmonton's Tom Gilbert on Monday night.

...

Carcillo, who was offered an in-person hearing, has already been suspended previously this season.

I'd like to see Carcillo get ten games or more for that hit, but I'm still betting on five.

One interesting note, brought up by Jonathan Willis, is that with Taylor Chorney serving a suspension for the Oklahoma City Barons, the Oilers have no defensemen under contract available to them if someone else is forced from the lineup.

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