Lightning lock down star defenseman Victor Hedman with 4-year, $32 million contract extension

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Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, left, and Detroit Red Wings left wing Tyler Bertuzzi chase the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, in Detroit.
(AP Photo/Al Goldis)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Two-time Stanley Cup champion defenseman Victor Hedman has signed a four-year, $32 million extension with the Tampa Bay Lightning, a deal that will keep him under contract with the team through the 2028-29 season.

General manager Julien BriseBois announced the move Tuesday, less than 24 hours after former team captain Steven Stamkos left the Lightning in free agency to sign a a four-year contract for the same amount of money with the Nashville Predators.

Stamkos, 34, departed after BriseBois cleared enough room under the salary cap to keep the long-time face of the franchise but declined to increase the club’s previous offer to the club’s all-time leading scorer.

With Stamkos set to test free agency, the Lightning used a big chunk of the salary cap created by trading defenseman Mikhail Sergachez and forward Tanner Jeannot to sign free agent forward Jake Guentzel to a seven-year, $63 million contract on Monday.

Hedman had one season remaining on his contract, however Brise Bois made it one of his top priorities to lock the four-time All-Star into a long-term deal this summer. The 33-year-old is coming off a season in which he ranked fourth among NHL defenseman in assists (63), fifth in points (76), sixth in power-play points (31) and eighth for average time on ice (24:48).

One of just 11 defensemen in league history to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the playoffs, Hedman has scored 156 goals and compiled 728 points over 1,052 career regular season games.

He helped Tamps Bay win consecutive Stanley Cup titles in 2020 and 2021 and has appeared in 165 playoff games overall, accumulating 165 points with 23 goals and 94 assists.

The native of Sweden entered the NHL with the Lightning as the second overall pick in the 2009 draft. He’s the only player in franchise history to win the Norris Memorial Trophy (2018) as the league’s best defenseman.