One of the Tampa Bay Lightning's newest defensemen: Mattias Ohlund

Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, I would occasionally pop across the border for a bit NHL hockey. I watched the Vancouver Canucks for a number of years, and have seen Mattias Ohlund play on a regular basis. So believe me when I say that he is a very good defenseman and a fierce competitor.

Lawton on signing Mattias Ohlund (audio)

Ohlund is more of a stay-at-home defenseman than anything else - meaning he doesn't score many goals and does his job as a defenseman in front of his goaltender. He's good at moving the puck as well as dishing out the hits. He's physical, and he can be very mean when necessary. In that way his style is more like a North American player than the stereotypical European one - which isn't much of a stereotype, really.

Ohlund on signing with Tampa Bay: Part I and Part II (audio)

During the 1999-2000 season, he took a puck to his face (he didn't wear any face protection at the time) and literally almost lost an eye. That could've ended his NHL career, but he was determined to keep playing hockey and he did. He had successful corrective surgery and that injury has never caused him any problems with his game.

As a mentor to Victor Hedman, you probably couldn't find a better option than Ohlund. They are both from northern Sweden, so not only are they countrymen, but also come from similar areas. Ohlund, while not as tall as Hedman, is still a large man so he can help Hedman with the subtle adjustments that defensemen sometimes take a long time in learning. And since Ohlund plays a physical game, he can also help Hedman out in that way as well.

Ohlund on helping Hedman: Part I and Part II (audio)

Signing Ohlund was a great first step in solving the problems on defense. Now let's hope that the Lightning have learned their lessons. Last season, the team was too willing to move its defensemen in transactions - for usually little in return. Let's hope the defense, as well as the rest of the team, are given a bit more consideration before they consider opening that revolving door once again.

For a more details about Mattias Ohlund's decision to play for Tampa Bay, please read Damian Cristodero's post on his St. Petersburg Times-Lightning Strikes blog: Mattias Ohlund: "My best years are ahead of me"