Tampa Bay Lightning Reasons For Concern: The Blue Line
After five straight seasons of being a Norris Trophy finalist for being the top defenseman in the NHL, Victor Hedman slipped down to 15th in the voting last season following his lowest goal total since 2012-13.
Now, obviously, there is more that goes into playing the blue line than scoring goals, but his plus/minus, while still +10, was his lowest for a full season since 2016-17. He had the most giveaways of his entire career in 2022-23. His on-ice corsi (shot attempts for vs. shot attempts against while on the ice) was the lowest he’s had since 2013-14.
This isn’t to say Victor Hedman is a bum. Far from it.
But his slow slip in play from elite to very good is a warning sign for the defensive group as a whole.
If healthy, Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak will be fine, but finding three more quality defensemen is a concern.
Calvin de Haan, acquired in free agency, will be serviceable. Nick Perbix took strides last season but still can’t be left as a stand-alone defenseman.
Haydn Fleury was -10 last season. Darren Raddysh was -3. Zach Bogosian was -4.
If Hedman or Cernak get hurt, which is prone to happen, the group gets really thin real quick.