Hedman Inks Rookie Deal with Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning signed defenseman Victor Hedman to a standard three-year rookie contract today, Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced. Hedman was selected by the Lightning with the second overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, the first time in franchise history Tampa Bay has picked second overall. Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune is reporting that the contract has an annual salary of $900,000 (rookie max) with bonuses and incentives pushing the NHL cap hit of the contract to $3.75M annually. The NHL requires bonuses and incentives to count against the salary cap regardless of whether the team actually pays them out to the player.

"We are thrilled to be able to take this next step with Victor today,” said Lawton upon making the announcement. "He has a bright future and we intend on him being a member of the Lightning for a long time. We are excited to get his signing behind us so he can solely focus on hockey and the continued development of his game.”

At yesterday's press conference introducing Hedman to the media prior to the start of the Lightning prospects camp, Hedman elected to wear jersey #77 in honor of famed NHL defenseman Ray Bourque.

Hedman, 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, was rated as the top European player and one of the top two players overall available in the draft according to NHL Central Scouting. He spent the 2008-09 season with MoDo of the Swedish Elite League where he earned Rookie of the Year honors as an 18-year-old. Hedman recorded seven goals and 21 points for MoDo in 43 games. He ranked second on the team, first among defensemen, in plus/minus rating with a plus-21 and was second among defensemen in points (only behind former NHL player Mattias Timander).

A native of Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, Hedman represented his country in each of the previous two World Junior Championships, winning the Silver Medal twice. During the 2009 tournament he recorded two assists and had a plus-4 rating in six games as Sweden fell to Canada in the Gold Medal Game. In 2008, Hedman was named to the tournament all-star team after recording an assist and a plus-5 rating in six games. He also played for Sweden at the 2008 World Under-18 Championships, recording a goal and four points in four games.

Hedman has spent the majority of the previous two seasons with MoDo, playing in the Swedish Elite League. During his two-year professional career there he has amassed nine goals and 25 points with a plus-22 rating in 82 games. He also played in five post season games with MoDo in 2007-08, recording one goal.