Hedman was one of four Lightning players selected to participate in the 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Jan. 28 (3:30 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports), along with center Steven Stamkos, forward Nikita Kucherov and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Hedman will not be healthy in time to participate in All-Star Weekend, but with the Lightning beginning their mandated five-day break Friday and having four days off Jan. 26-29 for the All-Star Game, he would miss seven games if he returns Feb. 3 at the Vancouver Canucks after being out three weeks.
Stamkos, who missed 65 games last season with a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee, said Thursday that Hedman’s skill set cannot be replaced in the lineup.
“Unfortunately, I know better than most that stuff happens,” Stamkos said. “You can’t control it. You gave to deal with it. Can’t replace a guy like [Hedman], but we’ll see what happens when we get news.”
Hedman, 27, has 33 points (six goals, 27 assists) and is plus-24 in 44 games this season. The No. 2 pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, he has 334 points (71 goals, 263 assists) in 593 games over nine NHL seasons, all with the Lightning.
Hedman was a finalist for the Norris Trophy as the best defenseman in the NHL last season, when he was selected for the NHL Second All-Star Team.
His last significant injury was early in the 2014-15 season, when he missed more than a month with a fractured finger.
“We have some elite players on this team, but on the back end he’s kind of our rock back there,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “He plays nearly half the game in all situations. He can help dictate a lot of the play in how we’re doing things, but it’s not like we haven’t lost him before.
“But you can go to any team in the League — take [Erik] Karlsson off [the] Ottawa [Senators] or [Drew] Doughty off [the Los Angeles Kings], just go through the guys, and it would have an impact on any team if he’s out for a bit, it would probably have a little impact on our team, yeah.”
The Lightning’s next game is home against the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; SUN, ATTSN-RM, NHL.TV).