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2018-2019 Tampa Bay Lightning Player Grades: Victor Hedman met but didn’t exceed expectations

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I gave Hedman a C, and I’ll tell you why.

Los Angeles Kings v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Lightning season is over. With a long summer ahead of us, we’re going to hand out grades to each player on the roster. You did your part submitting your grades via the reader survey, and they are presented along with our writers’ grades. All told, about 360 of you submitted grades, which is less than last season, but that’s understandable considering how the season went. Follow along with the series through the month of May and share your thoughts in the comments.

Every time we do player grades, the question always comes up of what do you use for the scale. The answer is always “it’s up to you.” So for me, I try to look at a player from what I expected of the player before the season and how they stacked up to that. It means that a player that did exactly what I expected them to do earns a C from me. And even then, I still admit some biases come into play when I’m writing down my grades for players.

But the reason I do that is that if I only based it on how good of a season the player had, then the best players should be getting As unless they greatly under-performed and the bottom of the line up players should always be getting Cs and Ds because it’s going to be hard for a Cedric Paquette to go out there and put up 30-40 points.

For me, I think it gives me more of a range to grade players and for me to grade it based on how they did compared to what I think they should have done. With that in mind, a C is the middle point for me. It’s still a passing grade and as the old adage goes... “Cs earn Degrees.”

When it came time for the writers to start picking up players, I felt that I should write about Victor Hedman. Why? I gave him a C. Almost all of the other writers here at Raw Charge gave him at least an A-, with the lowest grade coming from Matthew Esteves with a B+. Other than my C grade that is. The Readers agreed with Matt giving him a B+ overall, though he was less than a point away from finishing the reader voting with an A- grade. His overall grade ended up being an A-.

Check out the card below to see the breakdown of voting. Wins Above Replacement and the expected goal impacts come from Evolving Hockey. The xG impacts include all situations.

Hedman came into the 2018-19 season having won the Norris Trophy as the best defenseman in the NHL last season. Naturally, that created some increased expectations for me. He has been announced as a finalist for the Norris Trophy this season and we’ll find out in another month if he has won the second Norris Trophy of his career.

Hedman finished the season with 12 goals and 54 points in 70 games played. He failed to score in two playoff games and missed the last two games of the playoffs with injury. With the presence of Ryan McDonagh in the line up to eat up more minutes, Hedman averaged just 22:35 TOI, his lowest average since 2014-15. Even more so, his 17:20 even strength TOI dropped from 19:52 last year, which is tied for the second lowest of his career. His short handed time also dropped from 2:35 to 2:07, the fourth lowest of his career. His power play time remained pretty even though going from 3:24 to 3:19 as he continued to play the point for the first unit.

After five straight seasons of putting up at least 20 even strength assists, Hedman fell just short with 18 assists. His power play contributions remained in line as he put up his third straight season of at least 20 assists with the man advantage and also contributed two goals. Hedman also put up his fourth 10 even strength goal season in his career and now has six seasons in a row with 10 or more total goals. Hedman’s points per game fell from 0.82 PPG in 2017-18 and 0.91 PPG in 2016-17 to 0.77 PPG this season. He is averaging 0.75 PPG over the past six seasons.

From an advanced statistics perspective, Hedman had a solid year. He led the Lightning’s blue line in Goals per 60 minutes and was just behind Ryan McDonagh in Points per 60 Minutes. The Lightning’s offense had the best Goals For per 60 with Hedman on the ice, but defensively he had the second worst Goals Against per 60 with only his main partner Dan Girardi faring worse in that category. The Expected Goals For and Expected Goals Against also tell a similar story. The Lightning’s offense actually outperformed expectations with Hedman on the ice, but under-performed defensively.

So, why exactly did I give Hedman a C for a Norris Finalist season? Even with McDonagh on the roster, he’s still the number one defenseman. He’s still one of the five best defensemen in the NHL without question. With that, I also expect a lot from Hedman. I expect him to put up big offensive numbers. I expect him to be a strong defender and the anchor of the Lightning’s blue line. I expect him to be a contributor on the first power play unit. I expect him to be a factor in all phases of the game on both ends of the ice.

When I look back to what my expectations were at the beginning of the year, I was expecting him to put up 65-70 points which would be around 0.8-0.85 points per game. He fell a little short of that pace, despite the Lightning’s top three forwards putting up near historical numbers at even strength and on the power play. Despite the power play’s overwhelming success, his power play points per game ticked up only slightly. He fell a little short of my point production estimates, but I can also overlook some of that due to injuries and his lessened time on ice.

The reality for me was that he basically met my expectations. He didn’t over perform. He didn’t under perform. He was just an average Victor Hedman. And an average Victor Hedman is still one of the best defensemen in the NHL and the world.