Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman not only completed his second NHL season this year but is now enjoying the frenetic pace that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
In two seasons playing for MODO Ornskoldsvik in the Swedish Elite League prior to joining the Lightning in 2009-10, Hedman racked up 9 goals, 25 points, 96 penalty minutes and a plus-22 rating in 82 games.
As a rookie, he had 4 goals, 20 points and a minus-3 rating in 74 games. This year, he produced 3 goals, 26 points and a plus-3 rating in 79 regular-season contests. He led all Tampa defensemen with 23 assists, was second in points and fourth in plus-minus rating this season. Hedman has also averaged 91 blocked shots in two seasons.
It's been a tough grind, but Hedman admits he continues to learn on the fly and is more comfortable now than when he first broke into the League.
Hedman was asked to offer some advice for fellow countryman and highly-regarded 2011 draft prospect Adam Larsson what he might be up against following the Entry Draft in June. Hedman was the second overall choice by the Lightning in the 2009 Entry Draft. Larsson is expected to go in a similar spot, if not earlier this June 24 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
"Obviously, I wanted to come over (to North America) as soon as possible," Hedman told NHL.com. "As soon as I got drafted I wanted to come over and learn the game fast and that's the big key. I think, coming over from Europe and learning how to play on the smaller rinks and getting used to playing a lot of games and try to be on a high level was important."
It appears as though Larsson, NHL Central Scouting's top-rated European player, will likely return to Sweden to play for Skelleftea in the Elitserien next season.
"I don't know him personally, don't know him as a guy, but he seems very calm and poised out there so I don't think it'll be a big problem for him playing hockey in North America," Hedman said. "He's very good with the puck too, can play at both ends of the ice. He has to listen to what the experienced guys have to say to him and get in as much as possible, but still not change his game and learn."