Many so called NHL “experts” don’t tend to agree on much, but one thing I have seen vast agreement on, is that an NHL defenseman really doesn’t understand the NHL game until he has at least 300 games under his belt. For the record, Victor Hedman has now played 333 regular season NHL games.
But simply the number of games played isn’t going to win you consideration for the Norris Trophy, given to the top NHL Defenseman. To be considered among the elite defenseman in the league, you have to produce both ways. You need to be on the ice when your team scores and you need to be on the ice to prevent the other team from scoring.
Let’s look more closely at Victor Hedman. Last season, he set career marks in goals with 13. Those 13 goals put Hedman tied for ninth in the league for all defenseman. In fact, those 13 goals meant he scored more than twice of one of the 2014 Norris Trophy finalists, Duncan Keith who scored six goals. Not too shabby, especially when you keep in mind that Victor Hedman hit the mystical 300 games played mark last season, while the 13 goals equaled his total goals for the previous four seasons. In any league, that is an incredible jump.
Victor Hedman also had 42 assists. That put him seventh in the league among all blue liners. Those 42 assists also gave Hedman nine more than another Norris Trophy finalist – Shea Weber. Hedman also crushed the third Norris Trophy finalist, Zdeno Chara in assist by 19 assists. Clearly, from an offensive standpoint, Victor Hedman is holding his own with the best of the best.
In today’s NHL, there are quite a few advanced stats. More and more teams are utilizing these metrics to analyze players more closely. In an effort to be completely honest, I am still learning how to interpret these mathematical permutations. Let’s take a look at a few of these stats from last season to see where Victor Hedman scored among his peers in the NHL.
Keep in mind a couple of thngs: 1) I located these stats on the website www.stats.hockeyanalysis.com and 2) these stats are only for 5 on 5, power play and penalty kill stats are excluded. I did this to give as level a playing field to Hedman and his fellow NHL defenseman.
STAT HEDMAN RANK
Shots taken 7th
Goals/60 mins 5th
Assists/60 mins 2nd
Points/60 mins 1st
Let me explain what I understand Fenwick to be. A player receives a plus (or point) when his team directs a shot on opposing net when he’s on the ice but it excludes blocked shots. This statistical measure falls under the puck possession umbrella because obviously, the opposing team cannot score if you and your teammates are shooting the puck.
So, there you have it. Last season as he played his 300th game in the NHL and then some, Victor Hedman began to become one of the elite defenseman in the league. His offensive stats put him among the leaders and in a couple cases, he actually beat out the Norris Trophy finalists from 2014.
In other advanced stats measurements, Victor Hedman actually begins to show he is not only elite but a case can be made that he is the best. Granted, I am a Tampa Bay Lightning fan and make no attempt to hide that fact.
When top NHL Defenseman lists are being made, Victor Hedman must be on those lists. He is an elite D-man in the best hockey league in the world. This year, he is beginning his sixth NHL campaign and has played 333 games. Hard to believe that he is only 23 and won’t turn 24 until December. It is time for Victor Hedman’s name to be mentioned alongside of Duncan Keith, Drew Doughty, Shea Weber and Ryan Suter as the best defenseman in the NHL. My bold prediction for this year regarding the Tampa Bay Lightning is that Victor Hedman will be a Norris Trophy finalist and it should surprise nobody that he will win that trophy.