The Tampa Bay Lightning were dealt a devastating blow on Friday – one day after Victor Hedman left the team’s 5-1 loss to the Calgary Flames with an apparent injury – announcing that the all-star defenceman will be sidelined three to six weeks with a lower body injury.
The news comes just one day after the NHL named the rosters for the upcoming All-Star Game in Tampa Bay – a list that included four players from the Lightning including Hedman. It also comes on the back of another big year for the 27-year-old blueliner.
Hedman: The Injury
The Lightning defenceman left the game against Calgary on Thursday at the 6:13 mark of the second period. He was helped off the ice and went straight to the dressing room after he hit knees with Flames’ forward Garnet Hathaway.
While the injury will certainly hurt the team, it couldn’t come at a better time as the team starts their six-day bye week. The Lightning won’t be back in action until Jan. 18 when the host the Vegas Golden Knights.
Still, Hedman is likely to miss another few weeks following the bye week and the team knows what a big loss it will be.
“He’s arguable the best, or top three, whatever you want to call it, defenceman in the league,” said the team’s captain, Steven Stamkos, according to NHL.com. “He’s a huge part of this team, a huge part of this locker room. It’s unfortunate to see him go down like that. You can’t replace a guy like that, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens.”
Hedman: By the Numbers
In 44 games this season for the Lightning, Hedman has six goals and 33 points. His totals are good enough for third among NHL defensemen this season, trailing only John Carlson (34) of the Washington Capitals and John Klingberg (39) of the Dallas Stars.
The second overall pick from 2009 is also coming off his best year since joining the league where he had 16 goals and 72 points in 79 games for Tampa Bay.
He’s averaging nearly 26 minutes per game playing in all situations. On top of that, he’s a career 52.4 Corsi For Percentage (CF%) with his numbers slightly better this season at 53.2 CF%.
Career-wise, he’s been a stud on the Lightning blue line. He’s collected 71 goals and 334 points in 593 regular season games over his nine-year career. On top of that, Hedman’s tallied six goals and 37 points in 65 postseason contests for the Lightning.
He’s sixth all-time in franchise points and fifth in assists. He leads the team in both categories among defensemen and ranks second in goals, one behind Pavel Kubina for the all-time lead.
Needless to say, the team will miss his offence as they look to hold onto the Atlantic Division lead in his absence.
Possible All-Star Replacements
As for the upcoming All-Star Game, it’s unfortunate that Hedman won’t be able to enjoy the festivities in front of his home crowd at Amalie Arena, but the hole left by the two-time all-star will have to be filled.
With that said, there are a number of players who could take his place including Toronto’s Morgan Rielly who is sixth in defensive scoring, Tampa’s own Mikhail Sergachev who has 26 points in his first season with the club or Boston’s Charlie McAvoy who has impressed on both sides of the puck so far this season.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.