Hedman Ready to Make Impact with Bolts
And it worked out just as they hoped it would.
Once the New York Islanders opened the proceedings by selecting John Tavares with the overall first pick, Lightning Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton, accompanied by owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie, stepped to the stage and called the name that will be the brick of the Lightning defense for years to come, Victor Hedman.
A native of Sweden, Hedman has spent the last two seasons playing in the Swedish Elite League and has been widely considered to be the most “NHL ready” of all the available top draft picks.
“I’m looking forward to helping the team next year,” Hedman said after being drafted. “I’m very happy to be part of the Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s a great town and a great arena.”
And the Lightning are equally happy.
“We’re very thrilled to have him as part of our organization,” Lawton said. “Victor’s addition to the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight immediately makes us a better team. He brightens up our weakest area and we look for him to be a defensive anchor for a long, long time.”
At 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds, Hedman, 18, brings a winning mentality to the Lightning.
“I do whatever it takes to win. I really hate to lose,” Hedman said. “I think of myself as an impact player.”
Hedman is the fifth defenseman the Lightning have selected in the first round of the draft since they first participated in 1992.
In his favor is his hometown, Ornskoldsvik, which has a population of less than 55,000 but has produced former and current NHL standouts such as Peter Forsberg, Markus Naslund, Daniel and Hentrik Sedin and Niklas Sundstrom.
Hedman will make his first appearance in a Lightning sweater at the 2009 Young Guns Camp on July 8-15 at the St. Pete Times Forum.