Tampa Bay Lightning: Victor Hedman Proves Success, Wins Norris Trophy

After a nomination last season, Victor Hedman wins the Norris Trophy for best defenseman.

At the 2018 NHL Awards in Las Vegas, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman won the Norris Trophy for best defenseman of the year. Hedman is the first defenseman in franchise history to be elected as the top defenseman.

Hedman was nominated last year for the Norris, finishing third behind Ottawa Senators’ Erik Karlsson and the winner San Jose Sharks’ Brent Burns. This year, it was no contest on who would win.

You can tell from the voting, Victor Hedman was (and still in) in a league of his own, having a 32 vote lead over his nearest competition, Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, in the first place votes.

“To the Lightning organization, Mr. Jeff Vinik, Steve Yzerman, and the coaching staff, thank you for believing in me and putting me in a position to succeed,” Hedman said in the acceptance speech.

The NHL’s top defenseman notched 63 points in 77 games played. Hedman tied for the most goals by a defenseman, with 17 goals. While a consistent part of the top pairing for the Lightning, Hedman also shined on offense. With 26 power play points, Hedman led all Lightning defenseman, only behind Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos.

The Bolts Nation has had the honor to watch Hedman play now for nine seasons. With this award, Hedman is now shown to be on a level with elite defensemen, just like Lightning fans have always seen him. As the years progress, Hedman has grown into his role as a leader on this team.

An assistant captain, Hedman led the Bolts to a 2.85 goals against average on the season. With Hedman’s consistent performance on the ice, the Lightning was successful in claiming the first playoff seed in the Eastern Conference, with 113 points.

There’s no doubt that Hedman performed above and beyond this season for the Bolts. Hedman contributed to a deep playoff run all the way to Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final against the Washington Capitals. Hedman scored a game-winning goal and 11 points in 17 games played in the postseason.

In 2016, Hedman signed an eight-year, 7.87 million dollar contract that runs through the 2024-25 season. It looks like Bolts Nation has many years of Norris trophy defensemen ahead.

Victor Hedman was not the only Lightning player to be nominated for an award at the NHL Awards. Andrei Vasilevskiy was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, as well as Steve Yzerman was a finalist for General Manager of the Year. Regrettably, neither of these two walked away with new hardware.