Steve Yzerman is having himself quite the week.
Just days after preventing captain Steve Stamkos from leaving via free agency, the Lightning GM has orchestrated another vitally important deal — star defenseman Victor Hedman has agreed to an eight-year, $63 million deal.
“Victor has matured into one of the top defensemen in the NHL and coming off the recent re-signing of our captain, Steven Stamkos, we’ve secured another extremely important member of our team,” Yzerman said upon making the announcement. “I’m very appreciative of both Victor and [agent] Peter Wallen’s efforts to reach an agreement with us at this time.”
The contract comes with Hedman going into the final year of his current contract, meaning the extension kicks in for the 2017-18 campaign. It will carry a hefty $7.85M cap hit — up from his current $4M — but is still good value for a franchise-type defenseman that, in case you forgot, is still only 25 years old.
Hedman enjoyed another stellar campaign this season, finishing with 10 goals and 47 points in 78 games, and his highest-ever Norris finish (seventh in voting). He then stepped it up in the playoffs, scoring at a near point-per-game clip (14 in 17 contests) and saw his ice time skyrocket to 27:26 per night.
While the Stamkos and Hedman signings were both excellent pieces of business from Yzerman, there remains plenty of work to be done. The team is pushing closer and closer to the salary cap ceiling, and new deals still need to be reached for prized RFAs Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn, as well as a promising young prospect in Vladislav Namestnikov.
Next summer, more big deals need to get done — for Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Jonathan Drouin.
As such, it’s possible the club may have to part with Vezina finalist Ben Bishop. The NHL’s tallest netminder was terrific for the team last year, but carries a $5.9M cap hit and will be a UFA after next season.
What’s more, the Bolts have their goalie of the future already in the mix with Andrei Vasilevskiy (who, of course, will need a new contract next summer.)