-- Tampa Bay Lightning
defenseman Victor Hedman
, sidelined with a head injury since being hit by Ottawa's Chris Neil
five days ago, has been cleared to play and should be in the lineup Thursday when the Lightning host Minnesota
"He's cleared to play, assuming nothing happens tomorrow at practice or anything," Lawton told NHL.com after breaking the news minutes earlier on NHL Live!'s broadcast from the General Managers Meeting at the Westin Harbour Castle hotel. "It's great news. We're excited about it and we're thankful, because you never know when players get hit in the head, what that means and how long it is going to be."
It looks it will be just one game missed for the rookie Hedman, who has been among the ice time leaders for the Lightning in the first quarter of the season. Hedman passed his baseline neurological exam and practiced with the team Monday.
Hedman, the No. 2 selection in the 2009 Entry Draft, is playing 24 minutes a game, the second-highest total on the team behind fellow defenseman Mattias Ohlund
, who averages 25 more seconds per game.
The 18-year-old defenseman, who is in the mix to play for Sweden in the Olympics, has 4 assists and a plus-1 rating in 14 games this season.