Tampa Bay Lightning: 30 Best Draft Picks In Franchise History

28 of 31

Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

4. Victor Hedman

Draft Year: 2009

Position: Defense

A lot of strong defensive talent has made their ways through the doors of the now-named Amalie Arena over the course of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s history, but none of them have had quite the same impact as Swedish defenseman Victor Hedman has on the Bolts.

The six foot six inch tall Swedish defenseman would be drafted in the First Round (Second Overall) by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2009 National Hockey League Entry Draft. The Lightning wasted absolutely no time in debuting Hedman on the Lightning’s main roster.

In his inaugural season with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Hedman would show the potential needed in order to make it in the National Hockey League. He knew how to use his size to his advantage and lay some big hits on his opponents. In addition to his many defensive qualities, Hedman also had a knack for scoring points.

One season after debuting with the Bolts, Hedman would help lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to one of the most successful seasons they have experienced since winning the Stanley Cup back in 2004. In the 2010-11 season, the Tampa Bay Lightning would fall just one game shy of becoming the Eastern Conference Champions and playing for the Stanley Cup.

Just three seasons into his young career, Hedman was faced with one of the aspects of the game off the ice that no player ever really wants to see come to pass. The National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players Association could not come to a new agreement on their Collective Bargaining Agreement and the players found themselves on the business end of a lockout.

As crazy as this sounds, this may have been one of the best things that could have possibly happened to Victor Hedman. During the NHL Lockout, Hedman decided he didn’t want to sit on the sidelines and allow rust to build up and damage the well-oiled machine he had built. Why some players would stay behind to fight the good fight, Hedman would head to the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and play for Barys Astana in Kazakhstan.

When the lockout finally came to an end, and the Tampa Bay Lightning players all made their way back here to the Bolts Nation, Victor Hedman emerged a new man. Not only had he gained more toughness on the defense-aspect of his game, but Hedman had suddenly transformed into a much more offensively minded defenseman. This is something the Tampa Bay Lightning were in dire need of at the time.

In his first full post-lockout season, Victor Hedman would set a career high in all manners scoring. In the 75 games Hedman played in the 2013-14 season, Hedman would score 13 goals and a whopping 42 assists for a total of 55 points. This would place Hedman in 7th place among all defensemen in the league in terms of assists and 5th place in overall points.

Despite being struck down on multiple occasions by a variety of injuries, Hedman has always managed to come back better and stronger than he ever was before. Judging by his performance this season, Victor Hedman is on the fast track to another career-high season. Hedman has also been mentioned by numerous media outlets as a top contender for the Norris Trophy this season.

There is no denying that Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman has a long, and potentially very successful career in front of him in the National Hockey League, but his impact has already been felt here in Tampa Bay and all around the Bolts Nation. This is why Victor Hedman’s name appears in our list of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Best Draft Picks in Franchise History.

Next: One-Third of the Franchise Trio