Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman is taking care of business this summer. Not only has he had a couple RFAs put ink to paper, he has brought Steven Stamkos back on an eight-year deal and, according to reports Friday, he’s locked in defenseman Victor Hedman to an eight-year contract extension.
Hedman, the team’s top defender, was set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, making July 1 the first day the Lightning were able to put him to a new deal. The deal is reported to carry a $7.875 million AAV, which, like the deal Stamkos signed, is far less than was expected.
The basically non-existent Florida taxes may be lending Yzerman a hand, making these deals the equivalent of much more lucrative deal (in terms of AAV) in states with higher income tax.
The 25-year-old defender has been the lynchpin of the team’s blue line through their recent success and has been absolutely crucial to their postseason success. Though the team failed to win the Cup in the last two seasons, with a deep run, Hedman garnered praise as the team’s likely Conn Smythe candidate in both postseason appearances.
Getting a deal done early will help Hedman avoid a year of headaches and questions, which Stamkos dealt with until re-signing earlier in the week. Stamkos talked about those headaches earlier in the week and sent a strong message to the team that sacrifices will be necessary in order to win.
Hedman’s new contract will start in the 2017-18 season. They have a tough salary cap situation to navigate, particularly with a lot of young stars that are due new contracts this summer and next.