Heading into the All-Star break, I’ve decided to look back at the storylines that the Tampa Bay Lightning have had. I’ve already addressed the off-season and who they need to re-sign, so what else is there? His name is Victor Hedman.
Hedman leads all Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman in games played in franchise history, and this is how he got here.
In the 2007-2008 season, the 16 year old Hedman was playing for MODO Hockey Ornskoldsvik of the Swedish Elite League. He wound up playing 39 games, registering 2 goals, 2 assists for 4 points. He also played 5 playoff games, gaining just one point in that span. But that was just the beginning. In the following season for MODO, Hedman recorded 7 goals, 14 assists for 21 points in 43 games played. He also finished with a +/- of +21, which was 2nd on the team that year. Ahead of the draft, the 6’6”, 220 pound Swedish defenseman was a highly touted prospect.
Thehockeywriters.com, known for scouting and ranking up-and-coming players ahead of drafts, had this to say on the then 18 year old Hedman:
“A fast and smooth skating defenseman, offensively and defensively sound and is 6’6” 220lbs and only recently turned 18?!? Is he genetically engineered? Nope! It’s one Victor Hedman who’s a shoe in to go second overall in June, with more than a few GMs considering him at first overall. I was, in fact, contemplating ranking him at numero uno, given the rarity of such a combination in a defenseman of size, skill and skating ability. In the end, I had to give Tavares the slight edge.”
“Scouting Combine Performance: Eug Sorokin, my inside agent at the combine, had the opportunity to speak with Hedman while he was waiting for a laptop to do one of the tests. Eug was so impressed with Victor, he went so far as to say he was “one of the finest human beings he had the opportunity to meet.” While Hedman is not vying for a Nobel Peace Prize, Sorokin went on to report: “All in all, a good-hearted kid, very genuine, and an absolute physical freak.”
“Gare Joyce reported Hedman was one of only seven of all tested to score “AA” (above average) in both upper and lower body physical development. He measured in at 6’6”.”
quotes are from Christopher Ralph’s post, #2 Victor Hedman – The Hockey Spy’s 2009 NHL Entry Draft Rankings (The Hockey Writers)
HOW THE LIGHTNING FINISHED THAT SEASON
In 2008-2009, the Lightning finished 24-40-18, good for 66 points and grabbing the 2nd overall pick of the draft. 33 year old Martin St. Louis finished with a team leading 80 points that season, with then-rookie Steven Stamkos finishing with 46 points in 79 games, ranking third on the roster. But defensively, not a single defenseman who played at least 25 games, finished with a positive +/-. On top of that, not a single Lightning defenseman finished with more than 23 points, and the leading defenseman in points was Steve Eminger, who finished with a -4 and was out of the league by the 2012-13 season and never recorded more than the 23 points he had with Tampa Bay. So it made sense why the Lightning were interested, and Hedman was everything you would want in an NHL defenseman.
HIS FIRST 3 SEASONS IN THE NHL (2009-2012)
Immediately, Hedman made an impact, playing in 74 games his rookie year, recording 4 goals, 16 assists for 20 points. He followed that up the following season, playing 79 games, with 3 goals, 23 assists for 26 points and a +3 +/-, and helping to lead the team to the playoffs with a 46-25-11 record. In the 2011-2012 season, Hedman played in a career low (at that point in time) 61 games, but recorded a then-career high 5 goals, 18 assists for 23 points. He also had a poor +/- of -9 that season.
2012-2013 LOCKOUT SHORTENED SEASON
During the NHL lockout of 2012-2013, Hedman played 26 KHL games, recording one goal, 20 assists for 21 points. It seems as though that experience in the KHL helped speed up Hedman’s development, as he returned to the NHL to play 44 games and recording 4 goals, 16 assists for 20 points, good for a then-career high 0.45 points per game. From that point forward, Hedman never looked back.
In 2013-2014, Hedman played 75 games and recorded 55 points. The following season, Hedman played 59 games and recorded 38 points. His 2015-2016 season was much better. Hedman played in 78 games and recorded 47 points. In the season after that, Hedman played 79 games and recorded 72 points (career-high). In 2017-18, Hedman played 77 games and recorded 63 points, which was enough to win the Norris Trophy for the first time in his career. So far this season, Hedman has played 42 games, with 33 points. He has a Corsi % of 52.9%, and a Fenwick % of 53.7%.
THROUGH THE YEARS
Hedman has gone to the All-Star game once in 2017, but was voted into the 2018 roster, however, due to injuries, was replaced by teammate Brayden Point. He has played in 668 games in his 9 year career, and counting. In that time, he has recorded 89 goals, 308 assists for 397 points, which also leads all defenseman in Lightning franchise history. He has a career CF% of 52.9% and a career FF% of 52.2%. In the playoffs, Hedman has played 82 games, with 7 goals, 41 assists for 48 points, while averaging nearly 25 minutes a game in that span. It’s safe to say Hedman has been pretty good for the Lightning.
all stats from hockey-reference
scouting report from thehockeywriters.com
featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals