You could have made a case for Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, or Andrei Vasilevskiy for the Conn Smythe trophy. In the end, it was Victor Hedman who earned the award as the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup Finals over the Dallas Stars.
Hedman’s ten goals throughout this run were incredible – and always well timed. It was his power play goal that sent the Boston Bruins home and sent the Lightning to the Eastern Conference Finals.
The defensemen, drafted in 2009, has been through all the heartbreak the fans have over the last few years. This postseason was different – and he was thrust into a role that he wasn’t normally asked to fill. The role of captain in the absence of Steven Stamkos.
Hedman was the man that greeted every player on their way on and off the ice. With shoulder bumps, fist bumps, and helmet taps it was Hedman that was the emotional leader of this team. He was scoring on offense, not allowing opposing teams to score when on defense, and setting up his teammates for continued success game in and game out.
Point had a magical run, scoring a franchise record fourteen goals. Kucherov has the fifth most assists (27) in one playoff run in NHL history. Andrei Vasilevskiy logged the most minutes played by any player in NHL playoff history.
In the end, it was Victor Hedman that they all looked to in the big moments, for leadership, to create magic when they needed it most.
Stamkos, when addressing the media after the game, called Hedman one of his best friends. They came into the league together, they signed their eight year extensions together. They won a championship together. That was always the goal and it’s done.
Victor Hedman is not only just the tenth defenseman to win the Conn Smythe trophy in Stanley Cup Finals history, but he may be one of the most deserving winners we’ve ever seen.