The turning of the calendar into July also means that players under contract for just one more season can officially negotiate contract extensions. We already saw it with Jake Allen earlier today, and now the top 2017 UFA defenseman is off the board.
For the Lightning, this is the second huge contract extension of the last few days, following the Steven Stamkos deal on Wednesday afternoon. They have now guaranteed that their two best players will be playing with each other until 2023. With both players under contract for less than $17MM combined, GM Steve Yzerman has set up his club for long term success.
In Hedman, the Lightning are re-signing one of the best defensmen in the league. Since going second overall in the 2009 draft, Hedman has been a mainstay on the blueline, logging over 20 minutes a night since he was 19. The last few years have seen an increase in offensive production as well, with his point totals climbing to 55, 38, 47 in the past three seasons.
Generally regarded as an elite possession defenseman, Hedman is still only 25 and is probably going to continue to improve. There may be Norris trophies in the future for this Swede, as he follows in countryman Nicklas Lidstrom’s footsteps as a positionally sound, physical-when-he-needs-to-be shutdown defenseman.