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Lightning Round: Victor Hedman leading Norris Trophy race

and Phil Kessel leaves game for the birth of his first child

Tampa Bay Lightning v Chicago Blackhawks
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - MARCH 06: Victor Hedman #77 of the Tampa Bay Lightning reacts after scoring against the Chicago Blackhawks in the third period at United Center on March 06, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois.
Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

The Athletic posted another update in the Norris Trophy race. The list is sorted by Game Score Above Average, an all-encompassing stat developed by Dom Luszczyszyn that looks at all the fantasy stats, possession numbers, teammates, competition, and deployment. He has a post explaining his system if you search it.

At the moment, Victor Hedman is leading the way, with Colorado’s Cale Makar close behind with a couple games in hand. Aaron Ekblad, Roman Josei, and reigning winner Adam Fox round out the top five. While I think Makar will ultimately win it because of his insane offensive output, it’s still really good to know Heddy is still up there, and out-playing, the best defenders in the world. He doesn’t need any more trophies after the Cup and Conn Smythe, the real takeaway is knowing what kind of value he gives the Lightning every night.

Speaking of value every night, Hedman scored in last night’s 7-4 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Justin has the recap and all the analysis. [Raw Charge]

“Ryan McDonagh, Alex Killorn, Victor Hedman, and Ross Colton scored for the Lightning while Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 26 of 31. On the other side of the ice, Connor Hellebuyck rebounded from some rough starts to pick up the win with 20 saves on 24 shots. Paul Stastny scored twice while Adam Lowry, Mark Scheifele, Pierre Luc-Dubois, Kyle Connor, and Josh Morrissey scored. Two of those goals were scored into empty nets.”

Also yesterday, Andrej Sustr was claimed on waivers by the Anaheim Ducks. I have the analysis on that and the salary cap implications. [Raw Charge]

“That means for whatever trade JBB makes, it’s got to be money out, money in. Or they could waive two of their extras (these players being Boris Katchouk and Cal Foote), but doing so would very likely see them get claimed and the team’s injury depth completely empty. Currently there is no one on the roster that is waivers exempt, so if anyone is coming off the roster, it’ll either be through trade or through waivers.”

Tracey has the Orlando Solar Bears update for this week. [Raw Charge]

“After being shut out for 186 minutes and 18 seconds, Orlando finally found the back of the net, as Maxim Cajkovic scored his first ECHL goal 4:45 into the contest for a 1-0 lead.”

Around the League

Phil Kessel of the Arizona Coyotes played one shift last night before leaving the ice to fly home to his partner in Phoenix for the birth of their first child. Kessel did this in order to keep his Iron Man streak alive, which is 956 games. Hey, if it worked out and you got permission from your partner, all power to you, Phil! He’s a pretty quiet guy so I couldn’t actually find whether he’s married to his long-time girlfriend or not, so I’m sticking to partner here.

Wayne Simmonds was given his silver stick by the NHL for playing in his 1000th NHL game last night. He hit the milestone on Saturday on the same night as Mark Giordano, who was in attendance as Seattle were in town. The Kraken are on a road trip until next Wednesday when (hey!) the Tampa Bay Lightning are in town, so expect a ceremony for Giordano before puck drop that night.

Cap Friendly also gave an update on “Group 6 UFAs,” which are players under 27 who haven’t met a certain number of required games in the NHL by the age of 25. Players that do cross that threshold get their RFA rights retained by their club, whereas these players will become UFAs.

Calder Trophy leader Michael Bunting is one such player like this from last year. In the vast majority of cases, these players don’t become much — usually they get AHL contracts — but sometimes there’s a gem that can be found. The Lightning currently have Anthony Richard and Darren Raddysh on this list. Former Crunch players Mitchell Stephens and Devante Stephens are there too. Boston Bruins first round picks Zach Senyshyn and Jakub Zboril are on this list too from the famous 2015 “oh shit” draft.