Tampa Bay’s Hedman aiming for Tuesday return

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Out with a concussion since Dec. 27, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman is hoping to return to the lineup on Tuesday when the Bolts face the Caps.

“I want to play games,” Hedman told the Tampa Tribune. “Being off the ice is the worst thing. I’m just trying to get back, and whether that is Tuesday or a couple of games after that, I don’t know. But my goal is to play in the next game.”

The 21-year-old rearguard has been participating in full workouts yet, prior to the All-Star break, was still wearing a red non-contact jersey during Lightning practices. There’s still no word on when he’ll receive official clearance for contact but with an extended rest period coming up, both Hedman and the organization are hopeful he’ll get it in time for next week.

“He’s been doing very, very well, and after all the time we’ve been waiting for him, it’s really nice to see him doing well,” head coach Guy Boucher said. “Everything he’s been doing, no setbacks, so that’s good.”

Getting Hedman back would be huge for the Bolts. He’s one of their top two defensemen, a key penalty killer and prior to getting hurt, second among all blueliners in minutes per game. With Tampa on a bit of a roll right now — currently riding a four-game winning streak — having the former second-overall pick back in the lineup could be a huge morale boost.