Victor Hedman a Norris Trophy finalist
The Lightning's Victor Hedman is one of three finalists for the Norris Trophy, awarded to the NHL's top defenseman.
Two-time Norris winner Erik Karlsson (Ottawa) and Brent Burns (Sharks) are the other candidates.
Hedman, 26, is coming off a career season, making his first All-Star appearance. He set highs for goals (16), assists (56) and points (72), which ranked second in the NHL among defenseman behind only Burns. In doing so, Hedman set a franchise record for assists by a Lightning defenseman (passing Roman Hamrlik's 49 in 1995-96.
"Just playing with good players," Hedman said. "I'm being put in situations to be successful. I've obviously felt more comfortable on the power play. I've felt more comfortable playing that offensive role. We had to be able to produce and that's been kind of what I expect of myself, to be one of the leaders, especially when we were in a big hole. We needed to climb out needed to take charge out there."
Hedman really took off in the second half of the season, sparking the Lightning's remarkable run from last in the Eastern Conference Feb. 4 to within one point of a playoff spot. Captain Steven Stamkos pointed out how much more of a leadership role Hedman took on this year. The award will be given June 21 at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas, votes tabulated by members of the Professional Hockey Writer's Association, including myself.
It'll be tough for Hedman to beat out Karlsson and Burns, each of whom are still in the playoffs. But Hedman is certainly deserving, as Stamkos says he's one of the best defensemen in the world. The rest of the league thinks so too, as detailed in our All-Star story on Hedman.
"He kind of drives the bus back there," coach Jon Cooper said. "And when he's on, usually or team is on. He has such an impact, especially someone that plays that 25, 30 minutes a night. He's a catalyst of the offense back there."