As I sat in Nationwide Arena on Monday night I noticed something of a domineering figure floating about the ice ever so nonchalantly, with a stoic look upon his face. This figure was none other than the 24-year old-defenseman, Victor Hedman, of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Swedish Stalwart: Victor Hedman
Almost in awe of this player, as my father says to me; “I bet number 77 doesn’t mind laying down a few big hits”.
His statement was proved fairly soon in a high paced game marked by many different stories to talk about. I could sit here and write about Steven Stamkos, what he does for the team and why. But something about Hedman took my attention entirely off of the big name of the team and led me to keep an eye on him every time he put in a shift.
Hedman is, by no stretch of the imagination, an average sized hockey player, as he stands at a massive 6’6″, and weighing in at a gigantic, and impressive, 232 pounds.
What’s the first quality you want from a defenseman? You could say discipline, defensive awareness, ability to assist and score goals. Really what you should be saying is that you want an enforcing figure to put the hurt on other teams and to protect your goalie at all costs. Hedman fits that description perfectly. Even though he’s a big man, it was impressive to see in person how well he could skate as compared to the much smaller, and typically more fit, forwards on the ice from both Columbus and Tampa Bay. Size and skating ability, two things that, when put together, can make for a dangerously good mixture of a potential All-Star defenseman.
When you hear about Tampa and their big names, you would typically hear about the likes of Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Ben Bishop, and maybe even Anton Stralman, with maybe just a hint of Hedman. Yet, despite not having the same exposure to the media outlets and definitely not receiving the same plaudits, Hedman has been able to put an impressive season together this year, with 2 goals, a plus/minus of 7, and a team-leading 14 assists. This is something worth taking notice of, especially since the All-Star game isn’t that far down the road.
Hedman, who the Tampa Bay Lightning took with the second overall pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, is from Ornskoldsvik, Sweden and he represented his country at the 2008 World Junior Championships, where Sweden got a silver medal. He was also one of the youngest ever players to represent his country on the Men’s National Team, making his debut at 17 years of age.
As it stands today, Hedman should be held in high regard, and might very well be putting his name in the argument for one of the best overall defenseman in the league. He’s a young man to keep an eye on, and one to underestimate at every teams own peril.