Victor Hedman – Nick Perbix
Analysis: Hedman might not be the perennial Norris candidate that he a few years ago, but the Lightning still need him performing at a high level if they are to be contenders. Part of maximizing his performance has been pairing him with the right defensive partner. He and Jan Rutta worked well together for the three consecutive Stanley Cup Final appearances, but after Rutta’s departure before last season, Hedman’s pairing partner was a revolving door for the early part of year. Perbix eventually began to consolidate the spot, and the two continued to build chemistry into the finish of last season. I expect that they will be back together again.
Mikhail Sergachev – Darren Raddysh
Analysis: Sergachev, 25, is entering the prime of his career, and the 64 points he recorded last season might only be a prelude to what is to come. He was paired with Erik Cernak in the past, but he and Raddysh were beginning to form a dynamic pairing at the end of last season as both are offensively talented defensemen.
Raddysh was one of the best stories on the team last season as the 27-year-old earned himself a regular role in the NHL for the first time in his career. That carried over into the playoffs as he scored one of the best goals of the series for the Lightning. Even though his sample size is small, there is enough to like about him to warrant him the opportunity to be one of the team’s top-four defensemen.
Calvin de Haan- Erik Cernak
Analysis:. Cernak locks down the bottom of the team’s defense pairings but will also be available to move up and down the pairings as needed. On the left side, the Lightning signed De Haan on the second day of free agency. De Haan, a 573-game veteran should provide the team with steady defensive play while maintaining his composure — he has historically not been a heavily penalized player.