It was only a matter of days before the Tampa Bay Lightning would announce a contract extension for defensemen, Victor Hedman and according to multiple sources, deals between Hedman and the team were reached Wednesday afternoon.
Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman announced today that Hedman's contract will extend him through the 2016-2017 NHL season. The monetary terms of the deal are reportedly worth $4 million per year, according to Bob McKenzie of TSN.
Yzerman expressed his feelings towards the extension in the team's press release today.
"We are extremely pleased to announce that we have agreed to a five-year contract with Victor," Yzerman said. "He has shown tremendous growth as a player in just more than two seasons in the NHL while also becoming a key member of our team. We look forward to his continued development in a Lightning uniform."
Hedman, now 20 years old, has two goals and has a minus-5 rating through 20 games so far this season. He is averaging 22:55 in ice time so far this season and only Eric Brewer averages more, but by only five seconds (23:00). Hedman continues to show his defensive ability and it's evident, especially this season, that his mentality is defense first. He is second on the team with 40 blocked shots.
You know, Hedman might only be in his 20's and hasn't shown everyone what he is capable of yet, but this is a very good move for the Lightning to get him signed for five more years. Now, they have one of their most promised young defensemen signed to a long-term contract, giving Hedman the ability to develop into a prominent NHL defensemen.
Hedman might have had some bad games over the past three years and might not be the most physical defensemen on the team, but he continues to show improvement as each game goes by. Expect Hedman to only get stronger with the more experience he has.
I think Hedman has the capability of being a Mattias Ohlund type of player and he even has the ability to be a Niklas Lidstrom type of defensemen, who he was compared to prior to Tampa Bay drafting him in 2009. Yeah, those are big shoes to fill to match up to the caliber of either player but this kid has the chance to do just that, especially on a good team.
Since Hedman's rookie season in 2009-2010, he has tallied nine goals, 39 assists, and 48 points and no other defensemen on the team has had more than Hedman in either category since then. The No.2 draft pick in 2009-2010 has played 173 games with the Lightning since being drafted and no other defensemen on the team has played more games with the team.
Last season, Hedman led the team in 23 assists.
With Yzerman locking up Hedman to a contract now, Hedman avoids stepping into the free agency market as he would have this summer had not the Lightning signed him. It's possible Yzerman was anticipating another team offering him more than $4 million annually if Hedman tested the free-agency market. Some might think $4 million dollars is a little much for a defensemen that has only been in the league for three years, but be patient. Hedman is Tampa Bay's future franchise defensemen and just because he isn't racking up the points, means nothing. This move, in my opinion, is based purely off of potential from Hedman rather than his performance thus far. Just watch.
Right now, this is a steal for Tampa Bay. By the last year of Hedman's contract, he will have eight years of NHL experience under his belt and will still have the same cap hit for his team than he did when he had much less experience.
Well done Stevie Y.